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The Power of the New Year's Resolution

The New Year is slowly nearing, and with the holiday season already upon us many people are indulging in retrospection and reevaluating some of their life choices. New Year’s resolutions are the perfect opportunity for all those who have failed to start making the changes that they said they would make next week, next month, or perhaps when winter starts. In this article, we will share with you the interesting facts about this resolution and give practical advice on creating an effective list of goals for the next year.

4000 years ago the ancient Babylonians celebrated the New Year on the first new moon after the spring equinox. They called it Akitu, and it was a major festival that lasted 11 days. During the festival, the Babylonians made New Year’s resolutions to keep themselves in good standing with the gods. Then the Romans also began each year by making promises to their gods.

Nowadays 45% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. While nearly half of all Americans make resolutions, 25% of them give up on their resolutions by the second week of January.

New Year’s resolutions vary around the world

Or at least, that’s the conclusion you could draw from a 2013 Google Maps project called Zeitgeist. Internet users from around the world were invited to share their resolutions. Then, Google mapped them and analyzed them, breaking them down into the following categories:  health, love, career, finance, and education.

Looking at the map, health-related resolutions predominated in the US and Egypt. Visitors from Australia and Japan were looking for love. In Russia, meanwhile, education was the top priority. And in India, career goals were dominant.

Of course, this is far from a scientific study, but it’s still interesting.

So, what were the top New Year’s resolutions? Twitter attempted to answer that question based on users’ tweets. Here are the results:

  • Diet, exercise, and weight loss
  • Read more
  • Learn something new
  • Save money
  • Be a nicer human
  • Get a new job
  • Give more time and money to charity
  • Drink less
  • Sleep more
  • Make new friends

How to create an effective New Year's resolution that will work?

Almost 30% of people never make New Year's resolutions because they know they will not be able to keep it. However, people who make New Year’s resolution are ten times more likely to achieve their goals than the ones who don’t.

A good plan could help you in solving many problems. It can also help make your life exactly the way you want it to be. But making a plan is not always an easy task. Therefore, we have prepared some detailed tips for you.

1. Summarize the past year

The first rule of successful planning is the right mindset. Sit down, take your favorite notebook, pen, and analyze your past year in terms of your achievements, failures, and new acquaintances.

If you made a New Year`s resolution last year as well, be sure to summarize it. How many goals have you reached? Why haven`t you been able to implement other goals? If you have been setting the same goal for yourself for a few years, but still cannot make it come true - perhaps you don't really need it, and the goal is imposed by the environment or advertising.

2. Define the concept of the year

It is great if you can articulate the ONE main goal of the year before the start of the detailed planning. Also, before setting any goal, make sure that this is exactly what you really want. It corresponds to your interests and desires.

3. Break down goals into small tasks

Try to test every goal with the questions. Below you can find the examples:

  • What will happen if the goal is not achieved?
  • What am I willing to pay to fulfill it (time, effort)?
  • What am I improving in myself and in the world by achieving this goal?

If the goal is really crucial, then break it down into specific tasks. For convenience, you can divide them into conditional 6 lists: "work", "family", "relationships", "money", "interests", "personal development".

To make sure your goals are clear and reachable, you can use the methodology SMART. According to it, each one should be:

  1. Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
  2. Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
  3. Achievable (agreed, attainable).
  4. Relevant (reasonable, realistic, and resourced, results-based).
  5. Time-bound (time-based, time-limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive)

4. Make a plan for a plan

The first step to starting execution is to distribute the subtasks in time. We suggest you making lists of tasks for the month, week, day with periodic reminders. You can use planner apps for smartphones, google calendar, paper lists, etc.

Of course, you won't be able to plan the whole year by the hour, but it is a feasible task to outline a general plan and periodically return to it for clarifications.

5. Believe in yourself

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't - you're right.” - Henry Ford

Belief in yourself and your capabilities is one of the main secrets of success. Take another look at your list of future accomplishments this year. Do you really believe you can do it?