No one knows when New Year’s resolutions began, but we do know that the annual practice of renewing one’s better goals is ancient. Of course, it did not happen on January 1 as we might do today. It may have been related to the planting of crops, or in Egypt, the Nile floods.
St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622) says this about resolutions and refers to a fourth century practice around the date of the baptism of Christ: “The first point in these exercises is to appreciate their importance. You need frequently to reiterate the good resolutions you have made to serve God, for fear that, failing to do so, you fall away, not only to your former condition, but lower still; since it is a characteristic of all spiritual falls that they invariably throw us lower than we were at the beginning.