Why Do People Make New Year's Resolutions?

On New Year’s Eve — or at least first thing New Year’s Day — most people write out a list of resolutions. Some are practical, while others are a bit of a stretch. These promise run the gamut — from physical to mental, possible to improbable — but all have one thing in common: They serve as a personal road map for the next 12 months. The concept of creating New Year's resolutions is so ingrained in U.S. culture that the government even has a list of popular resolutions and resources for achieving them. It's a baker's dozen of good intentions, including: drink less alcohol, eat healthy food, get a better education, get a better job, get fit, manage debt and manage stress. According to polls, “exercise more” topped the list for 50% of resolution-making Americans, closely followed by “save money,” “eat healthier,” “lose weight,” and “reduce stress.” So, is it true that most people don’t keep their resolutions? The answer is a resounding “yes!” A whopping 52% of people making New Year’s resolutions were confident they would stick it out, but only a scant 12% really did. Then why bother? New Year's resolutions are, as English writer Samuel Johnson said, "a triumph of hope over experience." They're a way to quantify what we wish for ourselves, a means of cataloging our personal dissatisfactions. Perhaps most importantly, they're a method of erasing errors of the past year. Yes, New Year's resolutions are all about hopefulness……and it's always been that way.