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Have technological pursuits replaced more traditional virtuous intentions? We take a look at what inspiration can be found for this year‘s resolutions in our collection.

According to recent polls, our New Year’s resolutions have very much reached the digital age. But can ‘buy a tablet’, ‘connect my computer to my TV’ and ‘learn how to use Twitter’ really be considered resolutions, and are they anywhere near as important as spending more time with friends and family, taking better care of ourselves, helping others, and getting out of debt?

I thought resolutions were supposed to be a commitment to lifestyle change and personal goals, all in the name of new beginnings. Don’t get me wrong—I love technology, but ‘doing more social networking’ is hardly going to enrich your life. Or perhaps it is. We’ve reached a point in the digital age where we either need to get into modern technology, or get left behind. Just watch this video in which internet technologist, strategist, and journalist Ben Hammersley talks about how to face the digital future without fear.

Our virtuous intentions to better our natures and improve the lives of others have been appended by our desire to ‘improve’ our physical appearance (‘get a new haircut’, ‘get a six-pack’, ‘totally revamp my wardrobe’), and, well, acquire more stuff.

For some of you, the opposite will be true. The most popular New Year’s resolutions lists are full of plans to ‘meet up in real life instead of texting’, ‘do work for charity’, ‘socialise more in real life’, ‘watch less reality TV’, ‘read more’, ‘go travelling’, ‘spend more time with the kids’ and ‘leave work on time’. It seems there’s hope for us yet…

I’ve put together a set of photographs from our collection to illustrate this year’s most popular New Year’s resolutions. Here are just a few.

Get a six-pack: Artist’s Study, c. 1857, Oscar Gustav Rejlander, The Royal Photographic Society Collection
Get to work on time: A worker clocking on at the start of his shift, 1955, David Salt, Science Museum Group collection
Move house: Family of nine travel New York to California in a mobile home, 1937, Unknown, Science Museum Group collection
Take a staycation: Broadstairs, 1967, Tony Ray-Jones, Science Museum Group collection
Do more for charity: Sick tenement dwellers, New York, 1910, Lewis W Hine, Science Museum Group collection
Get better at social networking: Television telephone, Unknown, Science Museum Group collection
Organise your photographs: The Herschel Album, 1864-1867, Julia Margaret Cameron, Science Museum Group collection
Go travelling: Leaving for South Africa, 1947, Baker, Science Museum Group collection
Eat more healthily: Woman pictured for Daily Herald slimming feature, 1957, Unknown, Science Museum Group collection
Do more exercise: Men exercising with rifles, date unknown, Horace W Nicholls, The Royal Photographic Society Collection
Stop smoking: Lighting a cigarette, c. 1930, Science Museum Group collection
Save money: Woman taking a banknote from her handbag, 1949, Unknown, Science Museum Group collection
Watch less TV: Family seated around a television set, 1957, Ralph, Science Museum Group collection
Drink less coffee: Beatnik coffee bar, 1960, David Salt, Science Museum Group collection
Call people instead of texting: Baby playing with a telephone, 1950, Unknown, Science Museum Group collection
Lose weight: Weighing the Mayor, High Wycombe, 1969, Tony Ray-Jones, Science Museum Group collection
Buy a Sunday paper: Bus passengers reading the Daily Herald newspaper, 1933, George Woodbine, Science Museum Group collection
Socialise more often: Woman demonstrating products at a Tupperware party, 1963, Unknown, Science Museum Group collection
Take better photographs: Press photographers, 1938, Edward George Malindine, Science Museum Group collection
Start a business: Market salesmen, 1940, Harold Tomlin, Science Museum Group collection
Revamp your wardrobe: Models display latest military-style fashion at parade ground, 1967, Roland Hicklin, Science Museum Group collection
Get a promotion: Woman using an adding machine, 1950, Unknown, Science Museum Group collection
Spend more time with friends: Children’s garden party, 1933, Edward George Malindine, Science Museum Group collection
Get a haircut: Woman sitting under a hairdryer, 1934, Edward George Malindine, Science Museum Group collection
Read more books: Woman reading a book, c. 1935, Unknown, Science Museum Group collection
Confess your feelings: She Never Told Her Love, Henry Peach Robinson, 1857, The Royal Photographic Society Collection
Work harder: Two women in an office, 1952, Unknown, Science Museum Group collection
Drink less: Two mountaineers, c. 1910, Unknown, Science Museum Group collection

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