• History behind New Year’s goals
  • Who sets resolutions
  • What type of goals are most popular
  • Five ways to maintain your New Year’s resolutions

white ceramic mug on table

New Year’s Resolutions are far easier to plan than to actually execute. The first week of January is easy. You still feel bright and optimistic after New Year’s Eve and you’re convinced that this year is going to be your best year yet! You’re finally going to get in shape, be productive, and call your mom more often. So you wake up energized — ready to go for a jog, make a smoothie, and get your work projects done early.

Then, the second week of January begins. Your alarm clock seems louder than usual, your legs are sore from jogging, and work hasn’t rewarded you for the five days of laser-focus. How is that fair? One by one, your goals start to slip. You’re not alone in your frustration. According to U.S. News & World Report, the failure rate for New Year’s resolutions is about 80% (inc.com). But this isn’t for lack of effort! People don’t know how to plan their resolutions in an effective and achievable way.

Here at St. Francis College, we aren’t interested in the reasons that New Year’s resolutions fail, rather the many methods you can use to succeed. We gathered all the information you need to know about resolutions and came up with five tips to help you reach them.

History of New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s celebrations existed long before New York’s Time Square ball drop. Ancient Babylonians celebrated 4,000 years ago by promising to pay their debts from the previous year. In return, their pagan gods would grant them a favor (History.com). Ancient Egyptians had a very similar ritual, marked by the annual flooding of the Nile (cnet).

https://images.unsplash.com/photo-1526161202719-67a7615a3979?ixlib=rb-1.2.1&q=85&fm=jpg&crop=entropy&cs=srgbIn 46 B.C., Julius Caesar switched up the calendar and moved the beginning of the year to January 1 instead of March. Romans offered sacrifices to the two-faced god Janus during the New Year. With two faces, this god looked back into the previous year, but also forward to a bright future. Romans celebrated and promised they would be better people in the coming year (History.com).

Today’s New Year’s resolutions are mostly secular, but they are crafted by a rich history from multiple cultures. Instead of making promises to deities, however, we make promises to ourselves. This provides an issue with accountability, since it’s harder to break your diet when a vengeful god is prepared to smite you. It also shapes the kind of resolutions we have. Instead of community-based goals, current New Year’s resolutions revolve around self-improvement.

Resolutions of a Young Generation

A Finder survey found that 141 million adult American set resolutions for 2021. The study found that Gen Z is most likely to set New Year’s resolutions, with 92% of respondents saying they had set a challenge for themselves. The newest generation has taken it upon themselves to lead the charge of New Year’s resolutions.

More than 60% of Gen Z say their resolutions are related to self-improvement, which mirrors the level of dedication, passion, and engagement we see in our bachelor’s students all the time.

Common Resolutions

What goals do people have? Resolutions are often tailored for each person’s unique needs and desires. Still, there is overlap in basic areas people want to improve.



Health is the top category for New Year’s resolutions. Throughout the years, people cite heightened fitness, increased exercise, cleaner diet, and overall better health as a priority for improvement.

A survey of almost 6,400 fitness clubs in the U.S. determined that 11% of all gym membership sales take place in January (Bloomberg).

If you’re looking to help people achieve these resolutions as a trainer, coach, or health-professional, learn more about our Bachelor of Science in Exercise and Movement Science. We help prepare students for careers in health, wellness and fitness.


Saving money, creating a budget, minimizing student debt, and optimizing finance are common resolutions. Almost 86 million Americans make resolutions about money (Finder). Finance is a good topic to think about!

It’s always beneficial to make sure your budget is balanced. But we believe finance shouldn’t be everything — especially when it comes to your education.

St. Francis accepts up to 98 transfer credit hours so you can save while you earn your degree. Our admissions experts will also work with you to find the best payment plan possible. We understand why finance is on your resolutions list, and we’re ready to help you cross it off!


Self-improvement is a broad but rewarding subject of resolutions. Whether it’s waking up an hour earlier, turning your phone off at night, taking advantage of your professor’s office hours, or reading more books, there are hundreds of personal goals you can set to reach your ideals of a happy and healthy person.

These challenges help push you closer to the person you want to be, either professionally, academically, or personally. We find that many students choose our program because of a goal related to self-improvement.

In our Exercise and Movement Science program, we see countless students who are dedicated to self-improvement by earning a degree in the field they’re passionate about. It’s inspiring to see people living out their resolutions, which is why we are so dedicated to helping you achieve yours.

How to Achieve New Year’s Resolutions

A Strava study found that most people are likely to give up on New Year’s resolution activities on January 19 (Inc.com). Our goal at St. Francis is to give you the tools to achieve your goals despite the odds, so you can succeed through January 19, through the end of this year, and far into your future. Here are six ways to optimize your resolutions.

1. Make Your Goals Specific

If your resolution is vague, it’s hard to define what success or failure looks like. It’s more difficult to achieve broad goals such as “be more productive,” or “get healthier” than focused goals like “complete three assignments a week” or “cut out junk food snacks.” Being specific allows you to work backwards, then your resolution becomes clearer and more action-oriented (inc.com).

2. Plan Your ‘How’

It’s not enough to know the ‘what,’ you have to know how you’re going to execute your resolutions (lifehack.com). If your goal is to finish three assignments a week, the ‘how’ of your plan might include buying a planner, scheduling study groups ahead of time, and communicating with your teachers. Defining the details will help with motivation, as your goal seems more obtainable.

3. Practice Patience

With long-term goals, perfection is nearly impossible. Creating new habits can be a challenging process. Accepting minor set backs and keeping your eye on the horizon will minimize mistakes. Forgive yourself for missteps, so you can thrive on your larger journey.

4. Share Your Resolutions

Sharing your goals with someone, whether they also want to exercise in the new year, or just telling another person your plans, can hold you accountable to your resolutions. Studies show that sharing your plans with someone you admire can boost your long-term motivation (dataquest.com). So if you’re planning to follow your passion for fitness, tell a teacher, a coach, a parent, or family friend. Self-improvement doesn’t have to be a solo journey.

5. Define Your Why

Defining the reason behind your goals keeps you motivated long-term. Are you losing weight to boost confidence? Are you choosing a degree that ignites passion? Are you budgeting to afford a car? Whatever your ‘why’ is, write it down and don’t let it go.


Stay tuned for a New Year’s resolution infographic guide!

For 160 years, St. Francis has provided an affordable and quality education to all students. We strongly believe that the quest for knowledge was not to be an end in itself, but a quest to live more authentically within oneself and morally within the world community.

When you enroll in our online program, you receive the same level of commitment and quality of education. If you’re interested in pursuing exercise and health with a bachelor’s degree in Exercise and Movement Science, contact one of our Admissions Experts to learn more.