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What are New Year's Resolutions?

Michael Pollick
Updated May 17, 2024
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There is an old saying that a new broom sweeps clean. The first day of a new year also seems like an ideal time to sweep away one's past and start fresh. Many people form New Year's resolutions as part of their New Year's Day holiday ritual. These resolutions are usually vows or promises made on 1 January that address a number of goals for personal improvement. They often run the gamut from health issues to professional development to social improvements.

One of the most common New Year's resolutions is a vow to lose weight. Gyms and fitness centers across the world anticipate a surge in membership during the months of January and February, as millions of people make honest efforts to honor their pledges. Along with weight loss and body resculpting, many people also vow to improve their eating habits. Sales of whole or health foods tend to spike during the first few months of the year as diet trends shift. Many gym and health food store owners realize, however, that some resolutions may not survive until June.

Other New Year's resolutions address professional or financial goals. Some people vow to search for a better job or improve the conditions of the one they already have. Many people make resolutions to be more diligent about their personal bookkeeping, or to find additional sources of income during the upcoming year. Some may resolve to form a budget and live within their means instead of adding more debt.

People also set goals around social or spiritual improvements. Many people resolve to treat their spouses with more respect, or to be more sociable around others. Some promise to become more involved in their religious expressions or to become more tolerant of others. Those involving personal or spiritual growth can often be shared with spouses or other family members as a way to boost each other's level of commitment.

Some New Year's resolutions concern the elimination or acknowledgment of bad personal habits. Many people vow to quit smoking cigarettes or consuming alcohol in the new year. Others may attempt to control their tempers or curb their use of foul language. Making resolutions is a way for people to acknowledge some negative aspects of their lives and make a concrete promise to address those issues during the upcoming year.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to WiseGeek, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.
Discussion Comments
By anon58764 — On Jan 04, 2010

i wonder if making a resolution at new year's keeps a man improving himself in career or jobs.

once a person identifies his mistakes or imperfections then and there itself, he must correct it. if he does this, there is no need of making resolution on a particular day.

this making resolution on new year shows how they are weak in getting rid of their bad habits or mistakes.

By anon58478 — On Jan 02, 2010

I have never made New Years' resolutions. If I were doing something I thought I shouldn't, I would have done it sooner. If I had not done something that I thought I should have done, I would already have been doing it. I suspect that such are a snare and a delusion-like so much of human behavior-and I would bet that the percentage of those who actually carry out their resolve is very low.

Donald W. Bales, M.D. retired

By anon58474 — On Jan 02, 2010

On the first day of the year, one should meat each others personally if possible, otherwise it is very necessary to talk over the phone at least. If one is not caring for the talking or meeting, it means both are keeping ego too much. Instead, one should create love with each others .


By anon58468 — On Jan 02, 2010

To answer your question, I don't think so because I have made my New Year's resolution but I'm not American.

By anon58460 — On Jan 02, 2010

I think New Year resolutions are universal with like minded people.I live in Australia and I have made many New Year resolutions throughout my life. Its a way of starting new. An opportunity to work on yourself and improve your relationships, jobs, money, etc.

By anon58458 — On Jan 02, 2010

making New Year's resolution is universal.

it doesn't depend on origin and beliefs.

By mentirosa — On Dec 21, 2009

I wonder if making New Year's resolution is a universal concept, or it is done only in America?

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to WiseGeek, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range...
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