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New Year Resolutions: Real Goals or Promises Made To Be Broken?

By Edited Jun 25, 2016 1 0

This year, I am going on a diet. 

This year, I will be more patient.

This year...

You get the drift. Every year, many of us go through the same routine during the magical time of December. We analyze the previous year, identify our flaws and missed opportunities and vow that everything will be better in the coming year. Why is this such a phenomenon?

Making resolutions for the new year may be culturally embedded in us. Beginning in ancient times with the Babylonians, self promises have been made for centuries and it is likely that they have been broken for just as long. According to a study conducted by Richard Wiseman from the Univeristy of Bristol in 2007, nearly 80% of resolution makers failed to accomplish the goals they set in place.

This high number should not be a deterrent for setting future goals. After all, there may be varying reasons for the high fail rate, such as the goals may have been a little too lofty for the individual. Or, it could be the most common (although probably not spoken) one: life just got in the way.

Stuff happens. It's great to have aha moments in life and a desire to strive for better. That's what living and growing is all about. Setting personal goals can be a litmus test for the willingness to enhance one's journey and seek to accomplish tasks either new or unresolved. However, if the majority of resolutions are broken, it may be time to step back and reevaluate the reason for setting them in the first place.

A goal is a targeted purpose, objective or intent. A resolution is a decision or determination. To set a goal means you have identified a purpose and have the intent to see it through. To set a resolution means you have made a decision about something and are determined (or resolute) to make it happen. On the surface, the two definitions equate to the same thing. However, the value placed on them may govern the outcome.

The key is to understand the need for making a resolution. If it is done out of a generic or habitual tone of promising one's self to do something with no real grounded sense of purpose, it will likely be broken. Take for example the promise to lose weight. If this promise is made because you want to get into those skinny jeans that look so good on the 0-6 size people, but have not dieted or exercised on a regular basis, this resolution may result in a fail.

If you are determined to make things happen and identify the steps necessary to see it through, as well as understand the reason why you are setting those particular goals, you are on your way to successfully accomplishing your resolutions. 

In 2012, I was determined to finish a book I had been writing for six years. With that goal in mind, I stepped up my writing schedule and made it a priority. Before I could put "The End" on the finale, I identified an editor, conducted research on publishing methods, and more important, set a date for completion. To further keep me on my toes, I announced to the world via social networking that completion date. Although I had to revise my timetable a couple of times, I nonetheless accomplished my goal and finished my book.

The difference between this time and the previous years (yes, I promised that I would finish the book in the previous years) was the determination I placed in my efforts, and I turned the promise of finishing the book into a personal goal.

If you've made countless resolutions at the end of the year only to find yourself coming around the bend of a new year without accomplishing what you set out to do, consider revising how you look at resolutions. There is absolutely nothing wrong with making promises to yourself. However, try to ensure you aren't making promises you can't keep. Set your goals, identify a timeline, and even try to evoke support from others. You may have to revise some things down the line, but that's okay too! 

Now, reach for the moon and grab the stars! Happy New Year!

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Bibliography

  1. "New Year's Resolution." Wikipedia. 27/12/2013 <Web >
  2. Bill Petro "History of New Year’s Resolutions: Where did they begin?." Bill Petro: Bridging The Gap from Strategy to Execution. 1/January/2013. 27/12/2013 <Web >

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