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How Did New Year's Resolutions Start?

Have you ever wondered where the tradition of setting a New Year's resolution came from? I did too, so I did some digging. According to an excellent article on, the practice started some 4,000 years ago with the ancient Babylonians. In addition to pledging continuing loyalty to their king, they made promises to the gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed. If the Babylonians kept to their word, their (pagan) gods would bestow favor on them for the coming year. If not, they would fall out of the gods’ favor—a place no one wanted to be.

Today, most New Year’s resolutions have little to do with religion. Instead of making promises to the gods, most of us make resolutions to ourselves to do better or be better. While as many as 45 percent of Americans say they usually make New Year’s resolutions, only 8 percent are successful in achieving their goals. That's a pretty terrible track record when you think about it. Maybe that's why some of us resolve NOT to make a New Year's resolution. I'm guessing that the success rate for resolving not to make a resolution is much higher!

Do you make a New Year's resolution? I don't. I swore off the practice years ago. I asked around the office and it turns out that most of the staff is on the same page as I am. Janice doesn't do New Year's resolutions and neither does Elizabeth. Dylan is the lone holdout in the office. His resolution is to read two books per month in 2022. My guess is that he will be part of the 8 percent!

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