We tend to think of New Year’s resolutions as a modern concept, but in reality they go all the way back to the Babylonians, who held a vast empire some 4000 years ago. They promised their gods that they would repay all of their debts and return tools they had borrowed. The Romans adopted this practice, promising the god Janus the same thing. Janus is the god after whom January is named, and hence our NYE resolutions.
Some of the most common New Year’s resolutions include losing weight, eating better, getting in shape, and getting more exercise. This healthy bundle is understandable when you consider all of the good, but often rich and calorie-laden food eaten during the holidays, sometimes in larger quantities than we usually consume. One of the best ways to succeed at this is to set concrete goals, like “lose 20 pounds”, instead of vague ones like “lose some weight”. By having a target, it gives you something to focus on, and you are less likely to give up.
Another New Years resolution people often set is to think less of themselves and more about others, to help balance life a bit better. This can take the form of giving more to charity, being more positive and exerting less of a draining negative impact on friends and family, and pledging to go to church more often. Some churches hold a service on New Year’s Eve that gives parishioners a chance to give thanks for all of the good things that happened in the last year, and to pray for the upcoming year to be filled with rich blessings. These services are often called watch night services.
Volunteering can help with this last group of New Year’s resolutions – or as the Danish call them gruppe af nytårsforsætter, and also helps with clearing out the house, by donating goods to charity. Many people want to clear out clutter and start fresh. Beginning the New Year with a clean house is a custom found worldwide. Many cultures believe that cleaning rids the home of any problems from the old year, and leaves us ready to receive the hope of the new. It also ties in to the wishes of many to reduce what we in Femina.dk use and be kinder to the environment in return.
Another common category of New Year’s resolutions is a different way of improving oneself – going back to school to get an improved skill set and/or get a new job. By adding more skills, you make yourself more promotable, and you will likely get a raise to go with that new position. A better source of income means we can clear up some old debts or even that we can start to save for the future. More income can also help us fulfill our dreams of travelling or starting a new hobby.
Sadly, though about 40% of people will set New Year’s resolutions, 88% of them will not succeed in keeping them. One way to help improve the success rate is to tell others about your resolution. Having a support group provides you with cheerleaders and people who will hold you accountable.
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