A new year is a new beginning. We set resolutions that we aim to accomplish, but this tradition may seem illogical to those who don’t follow it. Why do we set high expectations on ourselves to “improve” our lives as we flip the page to a new calendar?

Recent psychology research reveals that “starting fresh” has numerous benefits. Our penchant towards New Year’s resolutions isn’t entirely explained by the “purity principle.” After all, many of us may make pledges after pretty sober celebrations. And most of our goals are unrelated to spiritual or physical atonement, such as jobs or personal hobbies. Is there something particular about the day that makes any kind of personal transformation appealing? Psychology professor Katy Milkman explains that we think about lives as though we’re characters in a book. We like to think of different stages in our life as “chapters”, with each turning of the “pages” providing a fresh start. According to Milkman, this allows us to build psychological distance from previous failures. It leads us to believe that our “old selves” made the mistakes and that we promise to do better. Some may still question whether the practice does have a success rate. Surprisingly, it’s higher than what people believe. A recent YouGov poll shows that 35% of those who set resolutions kept all their goals, while 50% kept part of their promises.

Any worthwhile journey will have a few setbacks along the way. But if you’re determined to change, you may greatly improve your odds of succeeding.