Why do people make New Year's resolutions?


A Historical Look at New Year's Resolutions

When did ringing in the New Year become such a big deal? Turns out, it isn't just a construct of modern Americans. Some 4,000 years ago, Babylonians rang in their new year with an 11-day festival in March, and ancient Egyptians celebrated the advent of their new calendar during the Nile River's annual flood. By 46 B.C., Roman emperor Julius Caesar had moved the first day of the year to Jan. 1 in honor of the Roman god of beginnings, Janus, an idea that took some time to catch on. However, in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII brought the Jan. 1 New Year back in vogue with the Gregorian calendar -- a concept that persists today.

The origin of making New Year's resolutions rests with the Babylonians, who reportedly made promises to the gods in hopes they'd earn good favor in the coming year. They often resolved to get out of debt [source: History].

Sounds familiar? Many of us are still making that resolution today. So what's the secret to keeping it? Turns out, simply wanting to change is not enough; you need to make it stick. One way to do this is to share your resolution with others.

"When you keep resolutions a secret, no one is going to check up on you. You're only accountable to yourself," says Joe Ferrari, professor of psychology at DePaul University in Chicago. He says that a party to publicly share your resolutions is an admirable way to ring in the New Year. Social media offers another avenue to let others in on your goals.

Once you've involved others in your resolutions, what steps can you take to ensure that when they do check up on you, you have something positive to report? Here's some advice from the experts.


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