New Year’s Resolutions: An Ancient Tradition Faulted by Modern Errors

Ryan Adler, Staff Writer

It’s a phrase people spend days, months and sometimes the year mulling over: “New year, new you.” 

This four-word expression, however, has achieved just the opposite of its intended purpose, and has led to the emergence of unrealistic social standards. 

Originating 4,000 years ago, the Babylonians were the first group to be recorded celebrating the new year.  

Babylonians made promises to gods about paying their debts and returning objects they may have borrowed. 

If Babylonians kept their promises, the gods would “reward” them the following year. Repetition of promises and gratification is believed to be what sparked our version of New Year’s resolutions. 

By the 20th century, resolutions became focused on religion and spirit. People wished to exhibit greater moral character and stronger work ethics.  

However, resolutions today have a different meaning.  

They are an individual’s promise to themselves. 

“I want to get skinnier and more ripped,” said sophomore Santiago Boulton. 

They are an outcome rather than a plan of action. 

Sophomore John Farris said he “wanted to lose a lot of weight and make a lot more money” in 2022. 

Resolutions are easily said, but hard to fulfill. 

“I want to try and spend less time on my phone,” math teacher Debra Tropauer said. 

According to Forbes, approximately 25% of people fail to follow through with their resolutions within the first thirty days of making them, and only 8% of people accomplish them.  

In making resolutions, individuals often assume change happens overnight. As a result, people make vague and impractical goals.  

Ultimately, we disregard the effort and commitment that is needed, and are therefore unsuccessful.  

Resolutions were a promise that could once be kept, and although numbers don’t show it, they still can be successful.  

It’s simply a matter of how they are made and then carried out. 

First, accomplishable goals focus on the activities that bring a person closer to an outcome, rather than the outcome itself. 

Dani Amos is a 25-year-old student at The University of Oklahoma’s sonography school. Working long days in classes, and nights drowned in textbooks, she said she finds minimal time to get outside or have time to focus on herself.  

She made a resolution to join a tennis team and journal daily and has followed through with both. 

“Not only is playing tennis super fun, but I have met a ton of people, and practices have given me a reason to get myself outdoors more often,” said Amos. 

Amos at the tennis court. (Dani Amos)

Amos said she has found that journaling re-focuses her mind and provides her with time to think. 

Additionally, sophomore Lauren Brown has set a goal to contribute more to her friendships.  

“In support of this, I have consistently checked in with my friends, whether that be facetiming or texting. I have taken the initiative when making plans and have just tried to be a kind person in general,” she said.  

Brown with her friend, sophomore Raygen Lewis, at the movies. (Raygen Lewis)


Also, successful goals have something of value to a person. 

For science teacher Gena Barnhardt, this is her children.  

“I’m away from my family, so I would really like to make an effort to talk to each of my kids at least once or twice a week,” she said. 

Having recently moved from Hickory, North Carolina, Barnhardt is trying to think past her personal agenda and start prioritizing her family. 

This week she is traveling to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, which is the first time she and all her kids will be together in over a year. 

“You just kind of get reminded that life’s short, and you just never know what’s going to happen next,” Barnhardt said. 

Additionally, feasible goals are realistic. 

“One resolution I set was to not eat sweets, but I broke that probably within a few days,” math teacher Anu Krishna said.  

The problem here lies within the goal itself. A person restricting themselves from foods they eat on a regular basis is almost impossible because it’s a natural habit.  

Krishna said past failed New Year’s resolutions have taught her about balance and reasonability, which she also plans to apply to school, work and life as a mom. 

She has begun taking an hour a day for personal development as part of her life-specific strategies.  

“The wheels on a truck are similar to the pieces on my life, as long as they all work, that’s all that matters,” she said.  

Lastly, obtainable goals are specific.  

Tom Blum, a member of the 55-plus community in Halycon, is hoping to achieve three things: continuing his silver sneakers class (a total-body workout for aging adults) three times a week, to start a yoga class and to stop buttering bread.  

As human beings, we are gifted with many imperfections, but as Krishna said, “life sometimes gets in the way” when we look to fix them.  

When people set reasonable resolutions, they set themselves up for improvement rather than complete change. 

In the words of Mark Twain, “Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time.”