New Year’s fireworks. Photograph: Sacha Fernandez

Men vs. Women: The Battle of the New Year’s Resolutions

The start of each new year is always an exciting time. With twelve unknown months ahead, each of us look forward to the future with a renewed sense of purpose and determination. This year, I will achieve this. This year, I will cut out that. This year, I will spend more time with those. And on and on it goes, year in, year out. As January approaches, lists are devised and promises are made, many of which go unfulfilled or are conveniently forgotten as the post-New Year blues kick in. Plenty of these resolutions are kept to ourselves (most likely to avoid embarrassment when we end up slipping back into our old ways) but some are bounded about within friendship groups and, increasingly, across social media websites. But, the interesting question is, with resolutions being a universal practice exhibited across all cultures and faiths, how similar are our promises, particularly when comparing the wants and wishes of the two sexes? Do men strive to achieve the same things as women, or are the differences between the two as different as many of us are led to believe?

With so many of us signed up to the plethora of social media websites available at our fingertips, they are more often than not the perfect place to go to when searching for an answer to questions involving the personal thoughts and feelings of the general public, and that is exactly what the San Francisco-based data mining company CrowdFlower did, analysing tweets from across the United States in an attempt to further understand the differences, and similarities, between male and female resolutions.

The results were incredibly interesting, exhibiting a clear difference between the various changes that the two sexes are looking to make in 2015. For example, on the issue of love and happiness, more often than not it proved to be women that had promises involving friends and prospective relationships at the forefront of their minds. Almost three times as many women as men had starting a family as one of their New Year’s resolutions, whilst 61 per cent had made promises to themselves to stay in touch with friends. Further to this, 60 per cent of women had resolutions involving making new friends, whilst women were also more likely to have made promises to themselves relating to health issues such as eating healthier and quitting smoking. This ties in with CrowdFlower’s other significant finding, which was that male resolutions tended to revolve around jobs and money. By quite a hefty margin, 65 per cent of those that had promised themselves to get a better job were men, whilst they also accounted for almost 70 per cent of all career-based resolutions.

A study published by the online publication The Huffington Post echoes CrowdFlower’s findings, showing that there are several clear differences between the male and female priorities when it comes to New Year’s resolutions. According to the survey, conducted in January 2012, women were more likely to want to have fun (69 per cent to 64 per cent) and spend more time with their friends (61 per cent to 49 per cent), whilst, as was the case with CrowdFlower’s analysis, men were found more likely to resolve to work harder at their jobs, with 73 per cent of those saying so being male.

However, whilst the findings from both surveys hint to the fact that there are still certain differences in the way in which men and women think — or at least their hopes and aspirations — what was interesting was the shared similarities between the two. Both shared an almost equal desire to lose weight over the coming year, whilst what was even more intriguing was the similarities shown on the subjects of romantic partners and, in particular, children. 59 per cent of women and 57 per cent of men spoke of a desire to spend more time with their kids, whilst 61 per cent of women and 60 per cent of men wanted to spend more time with their significant others, showing that, whilst the two sexes may differ slightly on certain social and health issues, both share similar concerns when it comes to their immediate family.

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