Nearly 60% of the population chooses to set a New Year’s resolution. And the discussions surrounding the actual setting of these resolutions are so familiar to us that you probably don’t put too much thought into the history behind the tradition.
Ringing in the new year with celebrations has been part of humanity’s shared experience since the dawn of time, but New Year’s resolutions are a little newer, first documented around 2,000 years ago. The Babylonians were the first resolution setters, beginning every new year with the practice of paying back debts and returning borrowed goods. The practice carried over into Roman times with worshippers offering “resolutions” of good conduct to a double-faced deity named Janus, the god of beginnings and endings.
When the Roman calendar was reformed, the first month of the year was renamed January in honor of Janus, establishing January 1st as the Day of New Beginnings. While resolutions were once intended to start the year off by doing good deeds and helping others, they have since morphed into the modern-day variety that focuses more on breaking bad habits and establishing new and improved ones, whether that means financially, socially, or with your health.
If you’re anything like us here at Dr. Marchbanks’ office, you’re probably shocked that we are already staring down 2020! Doesn’t it seem like 2010 that was half a second ago? The 2010 the Winter Olympics were held in Vancouver, and the country was still grappling with the effects of the recession. And yet, with all that was going on 10 years ago, the most popular resolutions in 2020 haven’t changed much.
Here are the top 10 resolutions from 2010:
- Stop smoking
- Get fit
- Lose weight
- Enjoy life more
- Quit drinking
- Get organized
- Learn something new
- Get out of debt
- Spend more time with the family
- Help others
If you are still considering what resolutions to set as we enter the next decade, we have some ideas for you below.
Here are the top resolutions (so far) reported for 2020:
- Manage finances better
- Eat healthier
- Be more active
- Lose weight
- Improve mental well-being
- Improve social connections
- Learn a new skill
- Be more eco-friendly
As you can see, there’s a lot of overlap between the lists. You can still see, though, how changing times have added some new things to think about.
If you are still wracking your brain for a New Year’s resolution you can stick to, as your local dentist here in our Arlington office we have a few suggestions. If there’s one thing we cannot stress enough, it’s the importance of quitting smoking (for anyone who smokes, of course). Not only will this be good for your lungs, it can save you devastating damage to your teeth.
The effect of smoking and your teeth goes beyond just the yellowing of your smile, too. It can cause serious oral complications, like increasing your risk of oral cancer. Oral cancer can be aggressive and spread quickly due to the number of blood vessels in your mouth and head plus the proximity to the lymph nodes. While the use of tobacco has been on the decline, approximately 15% of all Americans still smoke.
How to make your resolutions stick
If you are ready to set any goal, we have some tips that will help you be successful. Remember, achieving goals is hard—it’s estimated that only 8% of people see their resolution through to the end of the year. Here are a handful of tips to fall in that 8% instead of the bigger majority:
- Don’t set too many goals. Choose one or two goals that you can really set your mind to. If you set too many goals, you’ll lost track of what’s most important. You’ll start to neglect one of your goals, for instance, and then you’ll feel guilty about it. Soon, you’ll start to lose confidence in yourself—and risk failing at all your goals.
- Write your resolutions down and don’t be shy about sharing them with people. Post these goals around your house, office, even in your car. The more reminders, the better.
- Turn each resolution into a habit. Now that you’ve chosen a goal, find something small that you can do every day to work toward it. Working on your resolutions every single day is very, very effective. If you do something every day, it becomes a habit. Soon, you won’t even think about it; you’ll do it naturally, just like brushing your teeth.
- Mark your progress on a calendar. Literally, get a calendar and put in on the wall. Every day that you keep up your good habit, mark the day with an “X” on the calendar. Then try not to miss any days. Seeing all the hard work marked on the calendar will motivate you to continue working hard every day.
Next time you are visiting Dr. Marchbanks, make sure to tell us about your 2020 resolutions. We are here to cheer you on!