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The New Year’s resolution

Getting to the gym, getting a healthy meal plan and getting financially sound, stopping smoking, weight loss and getting organized traditionally are among the top New Year’s resolutions.

Every January, millions of people vow to make positive changes, but as February and March approach, quite often those promises are broken. According to Statistic Brain, out of the 45 percent of those who make resolutions, only 8 percent achieve their goals. Where did this tradition come from?

The first recorded New Year’s resolutions were made by the Babylonians around 4,000 years ago. Most commonly, it revolved around returning any borrowed farm equipment, as their New Year coincided with the start of their farming season.

Not long after, the Romans would start the New Year by counting the stock of the previous year and setting a goal to accomplish more in the coming year.

The Chinese set a special New Year’s resolution – house cleaning. Most people nowadays would relate this to spring cleaning. At the coming of the New Year, the Chinese would clean their house from top to bottom.

Today, many of us set New Year’s resolutions and try to achieve them. They are almost always based around self-improvement resolutions and goals. They are a way to mark the beginning of changes in our habits and lifestyle.

As mentioned earlier, millions of people make these resolutions, but unfortunately only 8 percent ever manage to achieve them. It is a sad fact, but many of these resolutions do not even last longer than a few weeks. By July, most have been completely forgotten and no real progress against the resolution has been made.

Clinical psychologist and parenting coach Dr. Kate Roberts says the key to success is making small changes.

“The most successful resolutions to change happen every day when a person decides that they are ready to make a change,” said Dr. Roberts. “Change requires motivation, commitment and circumstances to support the challenges of the change process, because change is hard!”

Roberts also suggests choosing one single resolution, and perhaps finding a supportive partner that has the same goal or will help keep you on track.

For more than 25 years, Roberts has helped children and families navigate through the ever-evolving world of relationships. As a licensed psychologist, family therapist and couples counselor, and wife and mother of two, she offers a unique and highly qualified perspective in her practice, in the media and in her “Savvy Parenting” blog on Psychology Today and her blog on Nobullying.com.

Roberts completed her undergraduate degree in psychology from Boston University and her doctorate in clinical psychology from University of Rhode Island. She completed her pre- and post-doctoral training at Brown University and Butler and Bradley hospitals.

It is amazing what such a long history the New Year’s resolution has had. You may be thinking of creating one yourself this coming New Year. And why not? It is a tradition practiced around the entire globe. Above all though, we should remember that the most important aspect of a New Year’s resolution is to take action and stick to it. Following Roberts’ idea, keep it simple and perhaps focus on just one aspect of your life.

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