What Is A New Year's Resolution? Meaning, Origin And 4 Ideas For 2022

New Year's Eve is the climax of the holiday season and a moment best savored when surrounded by friends, family and festivity.

But when the party ends and the dust settles, the days following January 1 can be a jarring experience, with an entire year's yawning possibilities leading some people to reappraise their life.

But although New Year's resolutions can be notoriously fickle and prone to failure, there are thought to be certain steps to successfully sticking to goals.

Newsweek presents a guide to everything you need to know about New Year's resolutions—from their origins to how best to achieve your aims in 2022.

New Year's Resolutions' Origins

New Year's Resolutions
Although New Year's resolutions can be notoriously fickle and prone to failure, there are thought to be certain steps to successfully sticking to goal Alvaro Moreno Perez/Getty Images

The New Year's resolution is commonly thought to have begun in ancient Babylon more than 4,000 years ago in an attempt to appease their gods.

Barbara Santini, psychologist, sex and relationship adviser, believes the Babylonians went before their gods with promises expecting favors in the New Year.

She told Newsweek: "A New Year for Babylonians started in mid-March, after planting their crops. During this time, they held Akitu, a 12-day religious festival to reaffirm their loyalty to the existing king or bring on a new one.

"They also went before their gods with promises to pay off the debts and return borrowed objects.

"Babylonians believed If they kept the promises, the gods would grant them favors in the New Year. Similarly, they believed they would not get the favors of the pagan gods if their promises were empty."

New Year's Resolutions
Many people across the world make New Year's resolutions, such as committing to lose weight, but they are notoriously hard to keep. Delpixart/Getty Images

Laura Steele of education resource experts PlanBee has outlined the numerous eccentric ways the new year is celebrated in other countries.

She said: "Many people across the world make New Year's resolutions, or promises to themselves to achieve certain goals in the coming year."

In Spain, on each of the twelve strokes of the clock at midnight, a grape is eaten. This is thought to bring good luck for the coming months.

Just before midnight, people in Denmark stand on chairs, ready to jump off them at midnight and 'leap' into January.

In Switzerland, it is traditional to drop a dollop of cream on the floor to bring a prosperous new year.

On New Year's Eve in Greece, an onion is hung on the front door as a symbol of rebirth. On New Year's Day, parents wake their children up by tapping them on the head with the onion.

In Brazil, people dress in white clothes to symbolise their hopes for good luck and peace for the new year. If you live near a beach, it is tradition to jump over seven waves—for each wave, you receive a wish.

Doughnuts are eaten in Germany. These Pfannkuchensare are filled with jam or liquor. As a practical joke, some may contain mustard or other unsavoury fillings—if you are unfortunate enough to choose one of these, this is seen as bad luck.

On the last day of the year, people in Columbia carry an empty suitcase around with them in the hope of a travel-filled 12 months to come.

In Estonia, on New Year's Day, people attempt to eat either seven, nine or 12 times throughout the day. These are all lucky numbers, and it is believed that the more they eat, the more plentiful the food will be in the coming year.

How to Make A New Year's Resolution

New Year's Resolution
It is important to be conscious of the psychology behind the urge to make New Year's resolutions in the modern age Wand_Prapan/Getty Images

Hilda Burke, psychotherapist, couples counselor and author, suggests it is important to be conscious of the psychology behind the urge to make New Year's resolutions in the modern age.

She said: "From my experience working with clients—most of us make resolutions that are 'action'-based, ie: I want to learn a new language, meet a partner, lose 10 pounds, get a new job.

"While it can be gratifying (particularly) for our egos to make good on our intentions, they often fall short in making us feel truly fulfilled.

"We imagine that the new 2.0 'resolved' version of ourselves will be someone that we actually like and that others will find more attractive/intelligent/interesting.

"When I work with a client and we explore what's behind a resolution, it's often the desire to feel a certain way—to feel more accepting of oneself, to feel loved/admired by others.

"While, it's certainly no bad thing to have the intention of becoming stronger/fitter/healthier or to exercise our brains and creativity, what invariably lurks beneath resolutions is the belief that in our current state, we're somehow not OK."

Look Back To Look Forward

Career coach Liz Sebag‑Montefiore​ suggests reviewing the last 12 months can help decide what you most enjoyed doing so that you can arrange to do more of the same.

She said: "Look at what caused you frustration and irritation to see if you can minimise those aspects of your work.

"Revisit your career plan and if you don't have one then write a plan for the next 12-18 months."

"If you do have a plan, then take a good look at how close you are to achieving your objectives and set some targets for the year."

Harness Social Media

Sebag‑Montefiore​ believes segmenting your LinkedIn network can result in targeting networking activities more efficiently.

She said: "Next, ensure that your 50 key contacts are on message with your plans, send them all a New Year email with best wishes and arrange to meet up with each of them in the first quarter of 2022.

"Identify someone who looks like you on LinkedIn, someone in a similar job to you, either in the same or a different industry and reach out to them; see if you can arrange to do some peer-to-peer mentoring.

"Review your LinkedIn profile, revisit your skills endorsements, make sure they are appropriate and align with what you are telling your network about your plans and aspirations. Ask for endorsements."

Resolve To Be 'Nice' in 2022

She added helping others whenever possible, looking out for your contacts and passing on news or information that will be useful to them can be mutually beneficial.

She said: "Say thank you to people and let them know that you appreciate them."

Invest Time On Yourself

Sebag‑Montefiore​ suggests devoting two hours a week is a productive route to personal development.

She said: "It can be work-related or personal time, but it should be downtime, when you relax and do something you enjoy."

How To Keep A New Year's Resolution

New Year's Resolution
You can tip the chances of successfully sticking to a resolution by practising “processes and behaviours” to help you make these long-lasting changes during the New Year Ong-ad Nuseewor/Getty Images

Madeleine Gauffin, psychologist at digital healthcare provide Livi, told Newsweek you can tip the chances of successfully sticking to a resolution by practising "processes and behaviours" to help you make these long-lasting changes.

'Stack' Your Habits

Gauffin said: "Stacking means tying your new habit to an existing one. Researchers have found that it can take an average of 66 days before habits become automatic, so start a new habit by adding it to something you already do every day.

"For example, after you've brushed your teeth, add a 3-minute meditation. It's crucial to create some space for your new healthy habits and allow them to become part of your daily life."

Choose Behaviors That Feel Good

Discovering base motivations can involve serious introspection and asking what do you want from life and whether you are living the way you want.

Gauffin said: "The motivation for personal and deeper change can be found in asking these kinds of questions.

"Are you creating new habits because you want to, or are you trying to please someone by changing things in your life? The motivation has to come from you—otherwise, it's not sustainable.

"Choosing to do something because we enjoy it is called intrinsic motivation, as opposed to extrinsic motivation, where we're motivated to perform a behaviour to earn a reward or avoid punishment.

"Plan an exercise date with a friend because it makes you feel good, or choose healthy meals because you enjoy the process of finding new recipes."

Be Flexible With Yourself

Introducing new habits should not have to be a struggle, with Gauffin suggesting it is "okay" if things in life can get in the way of immediately achieving your goals.

She said: "If your new habit isn't realistic, set a new one. Nothing good comes from pushing or punishing. Give yourself credit with rewards instead, and encourage yourself."

Stick With Small Habits

The psychologist added starting with small, specific and concrete habits can be key to keeping a New Year's resolution.

She said: "Set yourself up for success with realistic goals. That way, you're more likely to be able to sustain them."