Reading Comprehension | New Year Resolutions and How to Make Them

Develop your reading skills. Read the following text about the New Year resolutions and do the comprehension questions

New Year Resolutions

New Year’s resolutions are the perfect opportunity for the people who have failed to start making the changes that they have always wanted to make. Some of the most popular resolutions are to be a better person, to lose weight, to exercise more, to eat healthy food, to quit a bad habit such as smoking, to watch less TV, and to make more money. The problem with the New Year resolutions is that most of the time people fail to fulfill their resolutions because they don't follow specific steps in choosing and formulating achievable goals.

History: the origin of New Year resolutions

The first record of New Year's resolutions dates back to the Babylonians. According to Wikipedia, the Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts.

In Ancient Rome, the Romans practiced a similar ritual. The Romans offered sacrifices and made promises of good conduct for the coming year to Janus, a god with two heads and who symbolically looked back into the previous year and ahead into the future. The name of the month January takes its name from Janus.

With the advent of Christianity, some religious practices involved making resolutions. For instance, in the medieval era, the knights took the "peacock vow" at the end of the Christmas season each year to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry. Also, in some Christian traditions, at watch night services held on New Year’s Eve, many Christians prepare for the year ahead by praying and making these resolutions.

In the Jewish traditions, during Judaism's New Year, jews reflect upon one's wrongdoings over the year and both seek and offer forgiveness.

Nowadays the practice of making New Year resolutions has become more secular. Instead of making promises to the gods, most people make resolutions only to themselves. The aim is to reflect upon themselves and seek self-improvement.

New year resolutions facts

Although many people are motivated to make resolutions to become better people, most of them fail to achieve their goals. In a 2014 report, 35% of participants who failed their New Year's Resolutions admitted they had unrealistic goals, 33% of participants didn't keep track of their progress, and 23% forgot about them; about one in 10 respondents claimed they made too many resolutions.

Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol conducted research involving 3,000 people. It demonstrated that 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail, although 52% of the study's participants were confident of success at the beginning. Men achieved their goal 22% more often when they engaged in goal setting, wherein resolutions are made in terms of small and measurable goals (e.g., "lose a pound a week" rather than "lose weight").

How to make better New Year resolutions?

Most people fail to achieve their resolutions because they haven't chosen the right goals. These goals are either too vague or unrealistic. Researchers claim that to have favorable chances of success, goals should follow the SMART tool. That’s an acronym coined in the journal Management Review in 1981 for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. It is very helpful to set your resolutions according to this tool.

1. Specific. Resolutions have to be clear. Instead of saying I want to make more money, it would be better to precise how much money you want to make. It is more effective to be concrete in setting goals.

2. Measurable. A measurable goal is one that has a very clear definition of success. It has a target you can measure. That is there should be concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of the goal. If you want to save money, you should ask yourself the following question: how much money exactly I want to save each month? For example, you can start with saving 100$ or 150$ and scale your savings according to your income.

3. Achievable. Trying to take unrealistic steps can be detrimental. For instance, deciding to save enough money to retire in five years when you’re 20 years old is probably not realistic, but saving an extra $100 a month may be.

4. Relevant. When setting objectives for yourself, consider whether they are relevant to you. Every one of your goals ought to align with your values, qualities, and bigger objectives. Questions you may ask yourself are: is this goal worthwhile? Does it go hand in hand with our other efforts and needs? For example, if you have to pay off a large amount of debt and you have a low income is the right time to start saving money?

5. Time-bound. Time-bound goals mean that they are completed within a very specific time frame. This provides some pressure to consistently work on a goal

Goals are not enough

Goals are not excellent to give a sense of direction, but they're definitely not enough. In his book Atomic Habits, James clear stresses the importance of creating systems. For example, if you’re a coach, your goal might be to win a championship. Your system is the way you recruit players, manage your assistant coaches, and conduct practice. For a person who wants to become a musician. his goal might be to play a new piece. His system is how often he practices, how he breaks down and tackle difficult measures.

According to James clear, if you simply overlooked your goals and directed your attention only on your system, would you still make it? For example, if you were a basketball coach and you ignored your goal to win a championship and focused only on what your team does to practice each day, would you still get positive outcomes? The answer is yes. Focusing on what you have to do each day can lead you to success. That is why systems are important to develop good habits.


  1. Making New Year's resolutions is an old practice
    a. True
    b. False
  2. Most people manage to fulifill their New Year's resolutions.
    a. True
    b. False
  3. SMART in the text means clever.
    a. True
    b. False
  4. Systems are more iportant than goals according to James Clear.
    a. True
    b. False

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