New year, new start, new goals! 2013 is just around the corner, and a popular American New Year’s Eve tradition is to make a resolution to change something about yourself in the new year. Will you make a resolution this year?

The Popularity of New Year’s Resolutions

According to psychologist Dr. Stephen Kraus, author of Psychological Foundations of Success, only about 25% of Americans made New Year’s Resolutions around 1940. By the beginning of the 21st century, over 40% of Americans made resolutions. This growing part of American culture makes January a very interesting month as many Americans attempt to change a part of their lives.

Examples of Resolutions

Most New Year’s resolutions involve very large life goals. Common resolutions include losing weight, exercising more, eating better, quitting smoking, improving one’s finances, saving money, learn something new (for example, speaking a foreign language or playing a musical instrument), or to become more organized, less messy, or a better time manager. Other popular resolutions involve helping others by donating to charities, volunteering, or being more environmentally friendly.


The Success Rate of New Year’s Resolutions

An interesting question regarding New Year’s Resolutions is not how many people make resolutions or what the resolutions are about, but how many KEEP them! In 2007, University of Bristol’s Richard Wisemen conducted a study of 3,000 people and determined that 88% of people who set New Year resolutions fail. Why do so many people fail? Many make very big (sometimes unattainable) goals. According to Frank Ra, author of a book on resolutions called “A Course in Happiness”, those who set smaller goals and those who make their friends and family a part of their goal are more likely to keep their resolution.

If your goal is to continue learning English this year, we are happy to help! Contact CISL for information on our classes and pricing and make sure to check our blog for posts on grammar lessons and vocabulary. Happy 2013!










At the end of the Great Depression, about a quarter of American adults formed New Year’s resolutions. At the start of the 21st century, about 40% did.[4]


The nature of New Year’s resolutions has changed during the last decades, with many resolutions being more superficial and appearance-oriented than in previous times. At the end of the 19th century, a typical teenage girl’s New Year’s resolution was focused on good works: she resolved to become less self-centered, more helpful, a more diligent worker, and to improve her internal character. Body image, health, diet, and desired possessions were rarely mentioned. At the end of the 20th century, the typical teenage girl’s resolution is focused on good looks: she wants to improve her body, hairstyle, makeup, and clothing.[7]