by Ivan Anthony A. Adaro | January 30, 2022
It is typical for humans to have this strong desire to start over with a clean slate, and what better moment than the start of something new to kick it off with a bang? New Year’s Day — a day that eloquently symbolizes the start of a new chapter in life, allowing people to pledge or recommit to their aspirations — is the most popular time of the year for people to press the life-changing “reset button”.
Some people make resolutions to reduce weight and eat a healthier diet, while others hope to spend more time with their families and friends. But what is it about the New Year that inspires such optimism for change? Now that the first month of the year is coming to an end, how are you coping with your New Year’s resolution? Is it still a fine work in progress or will it be just another one of those unfulfilled goals?
Why People Make New Year’s Resolutions
As the new year begins, most people enjoy the thought of change prompted by the start of a new calendar because it is an opportunity for us to reevaluate and take inventory of our lives. The start of a new chapter in life, along with the excitement that courses through one’s adrenaline during the New Year celebrations, gives us this sense of renewal that motivates us to think about the areas in our lives that we want to improve and work on in the future.
According to a December 2019 National Survey published in the Fourth Quarter Social Weather Station (SWS), three out of ten stated that they make New Year’s resolutions at the start of the year. But out of that group, only 10% successfully fulfilled their resolutions. So, why make them to begin with?
“Because I want to live a better life in the present and in the future” is the standard answer for why most people make New Year’s resolutions. But while that may sound bold and daring, that is not the whole truth.
Katherine Schafler, Google’s in-house therapist in New York City, believes that the real answer is a little grittier. She claims that people make New Year’s resolutions because people are in pain. “The pain might not be acute or felt in a conscious, daily way, but on some level, people know that their current habits are denying them the quality of life they deserve,” she added to her report.
With that, it is justifiable that resolutions are not just about our future, but more importantly, it is spurred from our past lives. When we reflect and become more mindful of the unhealthy past habits we had in the previous years, such as not getting enough exercise and sleep, it is easier to assess which aspects of our lives we most need to improve. That is why people make resolutions — to correct unwanted habits and traits of the past to live a better and healthier life in the future.
But why on January 1st? Why not on other days of the year? It is because New Year is the perfect opportunity to turn a new leaf in life. The changing of the year represents the end of one thing and the start of another — it feels wholesome and rejuvenating. The desire to change is a powerful force, and momentous times such as the New Year and the level of excitement it brings are opportunities to step into a meaningful change.
Common Resolutions in the Philippines
One of the most unique resolutions and traditions in the Philippines is the focus on settling one’s debts. Phrases such as “Bayaran najud nako akong utang karong New Year.” [I will finally pay my debt this New Year.] or “Di na jud ko mangutang usob karong tuiga.” [I will never take loans again this year.] are among the common phrases that you will hear every day towards the end of the year. It is because of the belief that any financial habit or debt a person had in the previous year will carry over into the new year, something nobody wants. As the year draws to a close, it’s common to see Filipinos rushing to complete their debt repayment plans in the hope of starting the new year with a fresh, debt-free start.
Another resolution Filipinos often make is losing weight and being more fit. You’ll commonly hear people say “Magpaniwang nako karong tuiga!” [I will lose weight this year!] at the start of the year. Along with eating healthy, drinking less, and exercising regularly, it is a great start to kick off the year with a healthy lifestyle. Not only is it physically good for the body, but also very beneficial to the holistic aspect of life, especially in boosting one’s self-esteem and confidence.
Almost all Filipinos make it a resolution to spend more time with their family and friends. Considering that Filipino cultures and traditions are very tight and serious with family-oriented matters, spending more time with the family can allow one to establish a healthy relationship with their parents, siblings, and relatives. While it is true that we have been exposed to a variety of perceived standards that our parents and relatives have shaped since birth, we have always made it a habit to respect and be kind to them.
Everyone has distinct objectives and resolutions, just as everyone’s story is unique. Some may have simple goals, such as avoiding excessive amounts of food, and some may have unhealthy ones, such as prioritizing outcomes over values. Still, resolutions are made with the goal to fill in the gap between what is (past to present) and what should be (future).
But that standard is also part of the problem because people often focus on the specific outcomes, rather than the achievement process itself, making it much more difficult to stick to those resolutions.
Why People Break Their New Year’s Resolution
People love to set objectives, and setting objectives can lead to meaningful and fruitful change. But let’s face reality: we aren’t necessarily great at sticking to those goals, especially New Year’s resolutions. It is because most resolutions are about changing habits and improving lifestyle, and it is very easy to slip up or quit altogether when things do not go well according to how you want things to be.
In our efforts to wipe the slate clean and start over, we often get too detailed and goal-oriented to the extent that we focus more on the end goal (e.g., specific body weight) over the progress and values (e.g., being healthy and practical). When you put emphasis on the specific outcome, it can be difficult to stick with your resolutions if you do not see instant results. Goals require time to achieve, and the absence of a quick achievement is the common reason why many people feel discouraged and will eventually give up before completing them.
Perhaps this is why only a few can actually succeed in fulfilling their resolutions. We tend to choose readily quantified goals that we can only either achieve or fail, with no credit for the progress that happens in between the process. Another problem is that people frequently do not plan or consider what it will take to achieve a goal or keep a commitment. Instead, people rely on the excitement of the new year to motivate them to achieve their goals and rush through things. Then, after a few weeks, the buzz and excitement wear off, along with whatever motivation is left.
What Can Be Done
The prospect of sticking to a New Year’s resolution throughout the year can be intimidating, but it is not impossible. Making and breaking resolutions comes down to one key component, and that component is commitment. People often rush to set resolutions for the future without deeply assessing what they want to change within themselves and how those goals can be achieved. And that is the most common mistake resolution makers often make. Know what it is you want and make sure that your resolutions are specific, attainable, and realistic.
As humans, we continually strive to look for ways to become better versions of ourselves. Not just at the beginning of the year, but every day as the clock runs.
Maloney, K. (2021). The Psychology Behind New Year’s Resolutions and How to Keep Them. Retrieved
January 27, 2022 from https://blog.fitbit.com/psychology-of-new-years-resolutions/
Marquez, C. (2022). 10% of Filipinos fulfilled 2019 New Year’s resolution — SWS. Inquirer.Net. Retrieved
Webster, E. (2019). Making and Breaking New Year’s Resolutions. Teen Vogue. Retrieved
January 27, 2022 from https://www.teenvogue.com/story/making-breaking-new-years-resolutions