The tradition of starting the new year by making New Year’s resolutions is an ancient one. The Babylonians used to promise their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed goods and pay their debts, while the Romans began each year by making promises to the god Janus, after whom the month of January is named. Over the last hundred years or so, it’s become increasingly common for people in the UK to decide that from New Year’s Day – January the First – they’ll try their best to change their lives in some positive way.
Given that Christmas is often a time of over-indulgence, when people eat and drink way more than they probably should, it’s no surprise that the most common New Year’s resolutions involve losing weight, stopping smoking, getting fitter or cutting down on how much red meat or chocolate you eat, or on how much you drink! Gym membership soars in the first few weeks of the year, but lots of people only go once or twice before slacking off and eventually giving up. In the same way, by spring, lots of people are back on the fags – they’re smoking again – and if anyone asks them what happened to their New Year’s resolution, they’ll trot out the annual joke about how giving up is easy – they’ve done it hundreds of times!
The truth is, it can be hard to stick to our diets or exercise regimes. We often set ourselves unrealistic goals that we can never hope to meet, or else we start off really well, but then get complacent – we feel so pleased with what we’ve achieved that we stop trying and before we know it, we’ve lapsed back into bad habits.
However, this isn’t to say that we shouldn’t make resolutions. Studies have shown that we’re up to ten times more likely to have at least some degree of success if we set goals for ourselves than if we don’t make any resolutions at all!
I guess you might be wondering about me, right? Well, having spent time back in Indonesia over Christmas and being shocked and slightly depressed by how much I’ve forgotten over the years, I’ve resolved to spend at least fifteen minutes a day brushing up on my Indonesian! And, of course, I’m going to lose weight and stop smoking and get healthy again. As usual!
- Have you made any New Year’s resolutions this year? If yes, what have you resolved to do? If not, why not?
- Do you ever find it hard to stick to plans you’ve made? Can you give examples?
- Is there anything you’d like to cut down on? Why?
- Do you have any skills you’d like to brush up on?