Sticking to your New Year’s resolutions

When 2020 started over a month ago, did you make any promises to yourself? Maybe you said that this year you would quit smoking, start exercising, or (our favorite) learn a foreign language.

If you told yourself anything like that, you made what English speakers call a “New Year’s resolution.” A resolution is a promise to do something.

What’s interesting about New Year’s resolutions is that humans have been making them for thousands of years, but we’ve never been very good at keeping them. In fact, statistics suggest that if you made a resolution for 2020, you’ve already given up on it by now.

Luckily, we’re here to reenergize your enthusiasm for self-improvement. After we tell you a little bit about the history of New Year’s resolutions, we’ll explain some methods that could give you a good chance of turning your resolutions into reality.


New Year’s resolutions go way back

For the first known New Year’s resolutions, we need to travel back in time 4,000 years to ancient Babylon. According to, Babylonians “made promises to the gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed” each new year. Keeping these promises would make the Babylonian gods happy, increasing a person’s chances of having a good year.

The religious connection of resolutions continued for a long time. Records show that the Romans made religious-based resolutions in the time of Julius Caesar and that, later, many Christians began using the New Year as a time to rededicate themselves to God and promise to make up for the past year’s sins.

However, by the 1800s it had become common in the Western world for people to make resolutions that weren’t just about religion. Then, just like today, people wanted to use the changing of the year as a chance to leave behind old, unwanted behaviors and to have a fresh start.


How to keep your resolutions

For as long as there have been New Year’s resolutions, there have been a huge number of people who fail at them. The most accessible modern data showing this comes from fitness app and website Strava.

Strava analyzed data on user activity and calculated that by mid-January over 80% of people give up on their resolutions to stay fit. Given that Strava’s data comes from over 31 million users, it’s a safe assumption that even if their data only came from people making resolutions about fitness, the timeline likely applies to many other resolutions as well.

There are many theories about how to avoid becoming part of the majority of people who don’t follow through with resolutions. One of the suggestions experts most often give is to join or make a group that has your same goals. The support and accountability a group can provide is excellent motivation to see something through to the end.

Along with finding a group, it’s also important that you think hard about what resolutions you make. In an article in the New York Times’ Smarter Living series, editor Tim Herrera suggests people make S.M.A.R.T. goals. Here’s what each letter in S.M.A.R.T. stands for:

“Specific: Set concrete, clearly defined goals with specific points of success.

Measurable: Whatever the goal is, find ways to measure progress.

Achievable: Aim high, but within reason. Your goal should be a stretch, but something you could actually achieve.

Relevant: Find a goal that matters enough to you that you’ll be motivated to stick with it.

Time-bound: Set a reasonable timeline for your goal, and focus on the small wins along the way.”

By considering these ideas when you make resolutions, you create achievable goals that actually matter to you and have progress checkpoints to meet along the way.


We can help!

If one of your resolutions this year was to improve your English, but you’ve already stopped using the app you downloaded or haven’t opened that workbook you bought, TIP TOP is here to help! Our new set of online course offerings will give you both a group and trainer to help with your motivation to keep going.

Also, our courses are professionally planned to help you improve, so all you’ll need to do to get better is make sure you come to classes and actively participate. And participating shouldn’t be difficult because we make lessons as fun and interactive as possible.

If you’d like more information about our online courses, go to, and you can also feel free to send us an e-mail at if you have a question not answered there.

We look forward to working with all those interested, and to anyone who made other resolutions this year, we wish you good luck!



New Year’s resolution – Neujahrsvorsatz
good at keeping – gut darin sein etwas einzuhalten
to give up on sth. – etwas aufgeben
self-improvement – Weiterbildung, Selbstentwicklung
to turn sth. into reality – etwas in die Tat umsetzen
go way back – geht weit zurück
pay their debts – seine Schulden begleichen
had borrowed – hatten etwas ausgeliehen
rededicate themselves to – sich etwas anderem widmen
to make up for sins – seine Sünden wiedergutmachen
become common – üblich werden
unwanted behaviors – ungewollte Verhaltensweisen
to fail at – an etwas scheitern
accessible – zugänglich
safe assumption – sichere Annahme
join or make a group – einer Gruppe beitreten oder gründen
accountability – Rechenschaftspflicht, Verantwortung
measurable – messbar
achievable – erreichbar
time-bound – befristet, zeitgebunden
participating – beteiligt, partizipierend

Excite Your Senses

On our YouTube channel, you can follow along as a native speaker reads this month’s Learning Nugget accompanied by music and pictures.

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