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The New Year’s party is over. Now what?

Did you know that the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions has ancient roots and can be traced back to various cultures throughout history? In this first post of the New Year, I wanted to break down the history from past to present, in the US and abroad, of making New Year’s resolutions.

Let’s start with Ancient Babylonians! One of the earliest recorded instances of New Year’s resolutions dates back to ancient Babylon around 4,000 years ago. The Babylonians celebrated the new year in mid-March during a festival called Akitu. As part of the festivities, they made promises to the gods to pay their debts and return borrowed items.

The Romans also celebrated the new year in March and had a tradition of making promises to the god Janus, whom the month of January is named after. Janus was believed to be a two-faced deity, symbolizing transitions and new beginnings. Romans would make resolutions to improve themselves morally and seek forgiveness for their wrongdoings.

In medieval times, the practice of making resolutions became intertwined with religious practices, particularly among Christians. For them, the new year was often seen as a time for reflection and repentance.

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Traditions from Around the World

So, you may wonder if this is a US only tradition. The answer is No. Many countries around the world have similar customs, often involving the setting of goals for the upcoming year, and the underlying theme of self-improvement and reflection.

Here are some examples:

  • In Scotland, the New Year celebration is known as Hogmanay. It involves various customs, including “first-footing,” where the first person to enter a home after midnight is considered a bringer of good luck.
  • In Japan, the New Year is celebrated with a traditional visit to a Shinto shrine or Buddhist temple during the first few days of January. This practice, known as Hatsumode, involves making wishes and setting intentions for the coming year.
  • In Spain, the New Year’s celebration, known as Nochevieja, includes the tradition of eating 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight—one for each chime of the clock. Each grape is associated with a month, and people make a wish for the corresponding month as they eat each grape. This custom is believed to bring good luck for the year ahead.
  • And lastly, in Denmark, it is common to celebrate the New Year by breaking dishes. The more broken dishes on your doorstep, the more friends you have. Additionally, Danes often make resolutions and enjoy a festive meal with family and friends.

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Are Resolutions a Good Idea?

Now, for the dooming question. Is it helpful to set new year’s resolutions or should we consider having them all year round?

Well, the answer is probably not too popular with societal norms, but new year’s resolutions are often not successful. Factors such as setting unrealistic goals, lacking a clear plan, and experiencing a loss of motivation over time are commonly cited reasons for ‘resolution abandonment’. However, I think it is because it is more about the excitement of January than personal improvement.

January is the month of fresh starts and getting excited about making positive changes. People hit the gym, read self-help books, and are full of hope. But the problem is, the enthusiasm often fades, and by February, most of those resolutions are forgotten.

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How to Maintain Momentum

The usual way of doing resolutions is like running a sprint. We start strong, but then it’s hard to keep up the pace.

I think a better alternative would be to break down the year into four parts.

  1. In the first part, look at your goals and adjust them based on what’s working and what’s not.
  2. In the second part, celebrate the little wins and make changes if needed.
  3. The third part is about staying focused.
  4. And the fourth part is for planning what comes next.

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Just think, you can avoid feeling overwhelmed in January by spreading out your goals over the year. This can help you keep a steady pace and avoid feeling burned out.


So, in summary, don’t take off running as soon as the gun goes off! Slow it down and pace yourself. Keeping a steady, slow pace will get you to the finish line successfully. And don’t forget to celebrate every win…you earned it!

Until next time…

About the Author

Cheryl Denise Bannerman is an award-winning, multi-genre author of ten published works of fiction. Even at the age of seven, she would sit for hours on end reading about faraway lands, intriguing characters, and intoxicating storylines. By a pre-teen, she was writing poetry for publication and short stories for school that moved the reader to laughter, tears, and sometimes anger.

When she is not writing for her next book, Ms. Bannerman is running her 27-year-old virtual B2B Training and Development company based out of her Orlando, Florida, home.