New Year’s Resolutions: new year = new me?

Coming towards the end of each year, we tend to reflect on the year’s main events – what we did well and what we did wrong to be able to learn from the lessons of the past and do some things better than we have before. The New Year is traditionally considered to be the time of new beginnings – a time for resolutions, embarking on the coming year with a “clean slate” with the hope of taking a step forward and having a better year in front of us. Over one-half of adults believe in New Year’s resolutions (Epcot Poll, 1985), these resolutions usually can be categorized into 3 bigger categories: (1) “physical health” (70%), (2) “self-improvement” (10%), followed by (3) “psychological health” (5%) category (Oscarsson et al., 2017). The younger generations tend to make several commitments each year (on average 3 – Marlatt & Kaplan, 1972); however, these personal promises are usually broken as time slips away – sometimes within weeks, sometimes even on the very second day. Within a week around 25%, meanwhile, throughout 2 years more than 80% of New Year’s resolutions are completely faded away (Connellan, 2011; Norcross & Vangarelli, 1988). Each year begins with heads held high, and people feeling energised and encouraged by good intentions to improve themselves and their environment… but how can we really make things last and make a lasting difference?

New Year's Resolution

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New Year’s resolutions and self-improvement 


“Resolutions are a declaration, a commitment that we make to ourselves. They allow us a chance to look at the past and the present and think about the future. Many of us focus on improving ourselves and the lives of those around us“

Halpern, 2001:1


In other words, a resolution is a firm decision to start out with a good new habit or to break a bad one to make a positive change. It usually begins with the freedom – the will to acknowledge that there is room (a need?) for growth and involves looking back, reflecting on the past, and then looking forward by deciding on how to move ahead. We all look for some particular and easy-to-remember dates to start something new. All this is encouraged by a hidden attraction, a desire and/or curiosity whispering from inside – Where could I improve myself, who else am I destined to be? From ancient times New Year’s Day was labelled as an important day (Norcross & Vangarelli, 1988), a special date that might bring drastic changes to our lives:

– Drink less

– Quit smoking

– Study well – stop procrastinating

– Work harder

– Sleep more

– Exercise at least 3 days a week

– Eat healthier

– Save money – make wiser financial decisions

– Find a balance between work life and personal life

– Improve the relationships (colleagues, family, friends)

– Read min. a book a month

– Learn a new language

– Explore a new country

– Live greener – reduce, reuse and recycle

– Volunteer – help others

Does any of the most popular resolutions listed above sound familiar? What is your progress so far?

Making any positive lifestyle changes can be challenging, yet something about the start of a new year, a fresh slate with 365(6) brand-new days, makes all wonders seem possible. While it may seem easy to make resolutions, it can be far more difficult to keep them, especially now that we are experiencing a whole new world by still suffering the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic (see also our previous article). 


In the following section, we will go through some of the biggest mistakes and best solutions to be able to make long-lasting and life-changing New Year’s resolutions. 

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Griszbacher Norbert

Article Writer & Content Contributor

Norbert Griszbacher article writer at GiLE

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The opinions expressed in this article/publication are those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of GiLE or its members.

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