Did you know that only 20% people achieve their New Year’s resolutions? Concordia University, St. Paul takes a deep dive into the science behind achieving and maintaining goals. From keeping yourself accountable to defining the motivation behind your goals, you can use these tactics to make your resolutions actionable. Read on to learn about:

  • History and cultures behind New Year’s celebrations
  • Common resolution goals and who sets them
  • Six steps to finally achieve your New Year’s resolutions

New Year’s resolutions are an incredible tradition, designed to challenge you to do better in the future, set goals, and strive for more. However, it’s not always so easy. Sticking to resolutions can be a difficult and overwhelming process. In fact, 80% of people fail to accomplish New Year’s resolutions (inc.com).

Concordia University, St. Paul is dedicated to helping students accomplish your goals and strongly believes in the optimistic and motivating powers of New Year’s resolutions. To help you succeed this year and next, we compiled all the information you need to take full advantage of the New Year. Read on to learn the ins and outs of resolutions, as well as six steps to transform your goals into reality.

New Year’s Resolutions: Ancient Egypt to Current Day

New Year’s celebrations existed long before our current traditions. 5,000 years ago, Egyptians celebrated a festival called Wepet Renpet, which meant “opening of the year” (cnet.com). 1000 years later, Ancient Babylonians also honored a new year with a 12-day celebrations called Akitu. Even in 2000, the start of a year sparked ambition for the future. The Babylonians promised to pay their debts and return borrowed items from the year before. If they kept this promise, their pagan gods would grant them a favor (History.com). Neither civilization recognized the new year at the same time. For Egyptians, it was whenever the Nile flooded, which it did once every summer. The Babylonians celebrated around March.

Julius Caesar changed the calendar in 46 BC to move the beginning of the year to January.

Julius Caesar changed all that in 46 B.C. by rearranging the calendar. He made the beginning of the year January, a month named after the two-faced Roman God, Janus. One of the god’s face looked back into the year prior, acknowledging the past, and the other looked forward to the possibility of the future. Romans offered sacrifices to Janus during the New Years and promised they would be better people in the coming year (History.com).

The vast majority of New Year’s resolutions today are secular, but they come a long history and multiple cultures. Instead of making promises to deities, however, you make resolutions for yourself. What’s amazing is that throughout the history, whether in March, January, or at the whim of a river, the New Year has always inspired people. Across the world, people felt the coming year as an opportunity for a fresh start, where you could challenge yourself to be a better person. A Finder survey found that 141.1 million adult American set resolutions for 2021, whether it’s learning a new skill, making a lifestyle change, or accomplishing a short or long-term, personal goal. This season of opportunity and optimism is an incredible motivator to make lifestyle changes that seemed too hard or distant before. It’s important to take advantage of this.

Common Resolutions

What goals do people set for the Next Year? Resolutions can be long-term habits or something off a bucket-list, tailored for your life. Still, there is a lot of overlap in basic areas people want to improve.


Many new year's resolutions are financial in nature.

Saving money, creating a budget, paying down debt, and optimizing finance is another common resolution for Americans. Almost 86 million Americans make resolutions about money (Finder).

One method you can use to improve your financial situation is to change or advance your career, which is where Concordia-St. Paul comes in.

Our online doctoral degree in Kinesiology is full of health professionals, sports coaches, trainers, and more who know they can expand their knowledge and business to improve their financial situation. With this in mind, Concordia offers a variety of sources to help you pay for your education, including state and federal loans, payment plans and scholarships for those who qualify.


10% of gym memberships are sold in January, thanks in part to new year's resolutions to get fit.

Health is the top category for New Year’s resolutions, which is Concordia- St. Paul’s area of expertise. Throughout the years, people set goals to achieve heightened fitness, increased exercise, cleaner diet, and overall better health. For students, this indicates a surge in motivated clients. A survey of almost 6,400 fitness clubs in the U.S. determined at 10.8% of all gym membership sales take place in January (Bloomberg).

However, New Year’s clients offer a unique set of challenges. Trainers can use specific techniques for these motivated groups, such as readjusting expectations, setting long-term habits, and aiming for sustainability over rapid change (trainerize.com). Concordia-St. Paul’s curriculum prepares you for these challenges, and far more.


Self-improvement is the goal of many New Year's resolutions. Is it one of yours?Self-improvement is an extremely rewarding category of resolutions. There are hundreds of ways you can become a healthier, happier person. You can commit to waking up an hour earlier, getting more organized, giving your closets the Marie Kondo treatment, reading a book, or attending a workshop or conference.

Or maybe your goal is bigger, like going back to school and earning your terminal degree.

That’s a major life decision. But if you choose the doctoral program in kinesiology at Concordia, St. Paul, you’ll find that you’ll be surrounded by a community of engaged, enthusiastic, and motivated students that is looking to achieve the ultimate goal of earning their doctoral degree.

They know they are gaining the tools and resources they need to improve their personal or professional situation. You can too.

Steps to Achieve Your New Year’s Resolutions

Despite so many Americans setting resolutions, only a small fraction can accomplish them. A Strava study found that most people are likely to give up on New Year’s resolution activities on January 19th (Inc.com). This is for many reasons, including lack of long-term motivation, misguided expectations for results, and not enough planning (lifehack.com). At Concordia-St. Paul, we are less interested in the reasons you CAN’T do something and more interested in the steps that make you successful. Here are 6 ways to turn your resolutions into reality.

1. Make Your Goals Specific

Sharpening or focusing your resolution helps in a number of ways. It’s harder to define success with a broad goal like “get in shape.” You could burn yourself out striving to reach a goal with no finish line. Focus your goal into actionable steps. “Lose 30 pound in the next five months” is more approachable than “lose weight.” Your resolution becomes clearer and more action-oriented (inc.com), and you are more prepared to take effective measure to obtain your resolution.

2. Plan the ‘How’

It’s not enough to know the ‘what,’ you must plan how you’re going to execute your resolutions (lifehack.com). Now that you’ve focused your goal, what steps do you take next? What resources do you need to accomplish those steps? If your resolution is to be in a more fulfilling job in a year, your steps include polishing a resume, taking classes, and networking. Working backwards from your goal and accounting for the bumps in the road will prevent falling behind or getting overwhelmed.

3. Be Patience With Yourself

Dump the idea of perfection. You are not a machine, and that’s a good thing! Demanding too much from yourself can summon negative feelings, which are proven to be bad motivators. Creating new habits can be a challenging process. Accepting minor set backs and keeping your eye on the horizon will minimizes mistakes. Forgive yourself for missteps.

4. Measure Your Progress

If you’ve set specific resolutions, it will be easy to track the progress you’re making! Which is an essential part of goal-setting, for a number of reasons. Recording your progress can help you adjust for efficiency. If you notice you’re more productive in the morning, or that you’re more interested in your Advanced Exercise and Sports Nutrition class than the others, you can turn patterns into practice and attack your routine with more intention. Tracking progress also keeps you accountable, making sure you’ve paid the right bills, kept up with appointments, or done 15 minutes of mediation every day. Finally, tracking progress can keep you motivated in the long-run. Amy Morin, LCSW, suggests keeping a weekly log and setting benchmarks (verywellmind.com). This way, you’re excited for the milestone a couple days from now rather than the end goal in five months.

5. Tell People Your Plans

Sharing your goals with someone, whether inviting them to work with you or explaining your own plans, can hold you accountable to your resolutions. In exercise, workout body will help get you to the gym even on the days you really don’t want to get out of bed (betterhealth.com). It’s why people like group workouts, running with friends, or finding a lifting buddy. Outside of exercise, telling someone you admire about your goals can push you to achieve them (dataquest.com). This way, you don’t want to let down another person’s expectations. Self-improvement doesn’t have to be a solo-journey.

6. Define Your Why

Defining the reason behind your goals keeps you motivated. Are you changing careers to follow your passion? Are you working out to set an example for your kids? At Concordia-St. Paul, we see students with so many different ‘whys,’ and they all follow the spirit of New Year’s resolutions. A fresh start, self-improvement, or making the world a healthier place. It keeps them motivated, and inspires us every day. Whatever your ‘why’ is, write it down and don’t let it go.

In 2021, make the sky the limit and commit to your goals today.

Stay tuned for a resolutions-to-reality infographic.

Concordia University St. Paul has been educating students for over 150 years. When you enroll in our online programs you earn the same campus quality degree. Ready to advance your career in health and fitness with an Online Doctorate in Kinesiology (EdD)? Visit our website and download a program guide. More questions? Reach out. We’re here to help.


  • https://www.cnet.com/health/the-history-of-new-years-resolutions-and-celebrations/
  • https://www.history.com/news/the-history-of-new-years-resolutions
  • https://www.finder.com/new-years-resolution-statistics
  • https://www.trainerize.com/blog/how-new-years-resolutioners-are-different-from-other-personal-training-clients/
  • https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-16/here-s-how-quickly-people-ditch-weight-loss-resolutions
  • https://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/10-reasons-why-new-years-resolutions-fail.html
  • https://www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/10-tips-for-making-new-years-resolutions-come-true.html
  • https://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/a-study-of-800-million-activities-predicts-most-new-years-resolutions-will-be-abandoned-on-january-19-how-you-cancreate-new-habits-that-actually-stick.html#:~:text=You’re probably painfully familiar,Year’s resolutions have dropped them
  • https://www.verywellmind.com/reader-survey-new-years-resolutions-5093510
  • https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/Exercise-with-a-friend#:~:text=When you exercise with a,side and spur you on.
  • https://www.dataquest.io/blog/does-sharing-goals-help-or-hurt-your-chances-of-success/

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