Once the ball has dropped, the confetti has fallen and the champagne flutes have been vigorously clinked, the New Year becomes a time for reflection and improvement. New Year’s resolutions are a way to learn from the past and plan for the future—whether we want to quit old habits or take up new hobbies. Cheers! Here’s to 11 things you didn’t know about the intentions we set every January 1.
11. BEAT THE ODDS
According to a study done at the University of Scranton, lots of people drop the ball after New Year’s—and we’re not talking about the big shiny one in Times Square. Out of the 45% of Americans who make New Year’s resolutions, only 8% are successful in achieving them.
10. AROUND THE WORLD
The most common resolutions in North America, Europe and the Middle East are health-related. Latin Americans typically have travel-centric resolutions, and people in Asian countries are focused on finances.
9. BATTLE OF THE SEXES
Studies show that while women are more likely to make a resolution in the first place, men are more successful at carrying them out.
8. THE ORIGINAL OATH
People have been making and breaking resolutions since 2600 B.C. The ancient Babylonians are considered the first people in history to make resolutions for the New Year, during a massive 12-day religious ceremony called Akitu. During the festivities, they would make promises to their gods to pay debts and return borrowed items.
7. WHEN IN ROME
The ancient Romans started each year by making promises to Janus, the god of beginnings, endings and transitions. The month of January is named after the deity, who is typically depicted as having two faces—one to look forward and one to look to the past.
6. REMEMBER, REMEMBER, THE 31ST OF DECEMBER
The most common reasons that people don’t achieve their resolutions are because they’re unrealistic or they don’t keep track of their progress. Nearly a quarter of people who make resolutions simply forget about them.
5. A BIRD IN THE HAND
During the Middle Ages, knights took a “peacock vow” after Christmas celebrations to recommit themselves to a chivalrous lifestyle. They would place their hands on the plumage of a peacock and make a promise for the next 12 months.
4. HOLY NEW YEAR
The Covenant Renewal Service was created in 1740 as a spiritual alternative to the boisterous traditions typically celebrated on New Year’s Eve. Also referred to as Watch Night, these late-night Christian church services include praying, singing and making resolutions for the coming year.
3. CAN’T STOP, WON’T STOP
A whopping 84% of people make resolutions to start or increase behavior, as opposed to 16% of resolution-makers who vow to stop or decrease something.
2. MENTION YOUR INTENTION
According to psychologists, the more specific a resolution is, the more likely it is to be achieved. Those who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to reach their goals than those who don’t. If a resolution is measurable, it is more likely make the long haul.
1. STAY STOKED
According to a survey taken at the beginning of 2016, the most popular resolution of the year was to “Enjoy life to the fullest.” Only time will tell what’s in store for 2017, but let’s hope this year’s annual vows are just as optimistic.