Why do people make New Year's resolutions?

As the year comes to an end, each one of us starts to look back on the past twelve months. Mixed feelings will appear; sadness, anger, happiness or satisfaction, among others. While some might consider their year rewarding, others think of their achievements as a series of failures. This is when they decide to write a list of resolutions on New Year’s Eve.

A New Year’s Eve resolution is a decision to do or stop doing something, it is a choice to become a better version of oneself. By writing down resolutions, people set goals for their coming year to try and accomplish what they couldn't the previous year.

Photo credit: Tweakyourbiz.com

Photo credit: Tweakyourbiz.com

This tradition has become known worldwide, and one might consider it as a motivation to start the year with a positive mindset. A few resolutions tend to make it on the list of many, like losing weight, eating healthy, working out more, quitting smoking, making more money and becoming a better person. According to a 2011 Marist University poll, “losing weight” topped the list for one in five resolution-making Americans, closely followed by “exercising more” and “spending less and saving more.”

It is easy to come up with a list of resolutions, like choosing what to do to improve or quitting bad habits. But the controversial question lies in whether or not resolutions are achieved.

Richard Wiseman, a psychologist and author, discovered that 52 percent of people making New Year’s resolutions were confident they’d achieve them, yet only 12 percent really did.

But in spite of all the failed experiences in sticking to resolutions, people still write that list every year. Why? Because it is reassuring, it is hopeful, it is a strong belief that they can really change. The beginning of the year is considered as a fresh start, an opportunity to better ourselves and finally live up to our own expectations.

All the hard times, the failures and the disappointments of the past year weaken the ability of a person to be optimistic. After setting goals and resolutions, the same person that was once feeling down will have enough reasons to stand up for themself and improve on a daily basis.

Not everyone will be able to check all the resolutions on their list, but it is a risk worth taking.

Cover photo credit: People.howstuffworks.com