As the gentle harp strings of holiday euphonies fade into the background and days of observance come to pass, the celebration of the New Year looms on the horizon. With it, the annual practice of deciding on a New Years’ resolution becomes the foremost task for many Americans.
Surprisingly, the seemingly haphazard convention actually has a long and varied history amongst mankind. New Year’s resolutions reportedly date back to the Ancient Babylonians, albeit in a bit different form. The 4,000-year-old society’s New Year resolutions were actually in mid-March when new crops were being planted. Their resolutions were mostly promises to repay debts to elders or return borrowed items.
Thousands of years later, when Roman Emperor Julius Caesar reformed the calendar and made the beginning of the year January 1, the Romans would make promises to the god Janus (for whom January was named) that they would behave better in the coming year. By the 18th century, resolutions were at the center of Christian practices in the West for New Year’s Eve and New Years Day Renewal Services.
Despite resolutions’ long-intertwined history with religion, the practice is currently regarded almost entirely as secular.
Most Americans are either stark supporters or outspoken critics of setting these year-long intentions (the U.S. is split about 50/50 on this), with the latter arguing a calendar date is simply an arbitrary time to “decide” to change your life while the former use this practice to start the next 365-day journey with positive momentum and an optimistic poise. Regardless, mental health professionals say that similar to setting other goals in life; resolutions are a great way to live smarter so long as you don’t go overboard.
Although the choice to make a resolution is a personal one that varies widely in practice and seriousness, many people still enjoy looking forward to what the year may bring. To give a bit of inspiration for intention-setting this year, we’ve compiled a few of our team’s resolutions:
Kristina, Digital Strategy Director: In 2021, I gotta lighten up! This year was so heavy and hard; I want to work on shaking it off and having a sunnier new year.
Greg, Content Producer: I need to drink more water. I’m dehydrated constantly. That was also my resolution for 2020, but I got sidetracked with more important things, like not getting coronavirus.
Antonio, Editorial Coordinator: Looking back on 2020, I may have made a few too many trips to Culvers Frozen Custard. In 2021 I need to get back to my workout routine so that I can enjoy those Culver’s French Fries guilt-free.
Kate, Senior Content Producer: I feel like I wake up with new resolutions every morning, but this year I want to look out for love and let my heart lead.
Jake, Junior Content Producer: I want to reconnect with friends and loved ones that I’ve lost touch with this year in all the craziness. Hopefully, it will soon be possible to (safely) see people in-person. I also hope to spend more time with my grandparents and extended family.
Sam, Product Manager: I want to focus more on my health, whether that be with deep breathing, exercise, progressive muscle relaxation, or therapy.
Holden, Digital Project Manager: I’m going to brush up on my foreign language skills (likely with popular language learning apps) that I haven’t tapped into in far too long! In preparation for what could be the largest leisure travel boom since the invention of the commercial airliner.
No matter how big or small, try setting an intention for 2021. While there’s no reason to obsess over it, setting goals is a practice all successful people undertake. So, here’s to a new year and success for all!