Classic Covers: New Year’s Resolutions

Dozens of Saturday Evening Post covers show that self-improvement — from reading more to saving money — has been a popular topic for decades. Do any of these look similar to your own New Year’s resolutions? Share your plans for self-improvement with us in the comments below.

Resolution No. 1: I Will Lose Weight

No Desserts
Constantin Alajolov
March 12, 1948

Probably the New Year’s resolution on everyone’s list is to lose weight. That’s what this lady is working on and she’s obviously none too happy about it. This is from 1948, but we’ll tell you something, lady: Dieting today is no more fun and — with all our pills, online programs and progress — no easier.

Reduce to Music
Frederic Stanley
August 2, 1924

The gentleman in the 1924 cover below is taking up an exercise program. It looks like early aerobics, before the days of “The Biggest Loser” and celebrity spokespeople looking svelte after losing weight due to the Brand “X” weight-loss program. With no such inspiration to spur him on, he’s trying it the roaring ’20s way.

Resolution No. 2: I Will Save More $

Saving for War Bonds
Preston Duncan
May 2, 1942

Saving money is always a big New Year’s resolution. This is a photographic cover, rather than an artist illustration, which was rare for the 1940s. But everyone was being encouraged to buy bonds for the war effort and this handsome young man was doing his part.

Resolution No. 3: I Will Read More. I Will Improve My Mind!

Mom’s Helper
Norman Rockwell
January 29, 1921

This 1921 cover by Norman Rockwell shows a young man with two resolutions: to help mom with the chores and to be well-read. Actually, peeling potatoes was probably mom’s idea. Combining the tasks, however, is not safe, as the bandaged thumb indicates. Sometimes a good story is hard to put down. But, dude, when the chore involves a knife…

Resolution No. 4: I Will Not Gossip

Fall Gab Session
Constantin Alajolov
November 7, 1953

Resolved. Did you see the way that Smith boy and that Jones girl were looking at each other? Why, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were wedding bells ahead. (This is strictly confidential, of course.)

Resolution No. 5: I Will Keep the House Clean

After Dinner Dishers
Stevan Dohanos
January 8, 1949

I will keep the house looking like something out of a magazine. Only not this magazine. What is more discouraging than a pile of dirty dishes? We’ll tell you what – a pile of dirty dishes and a husband who thinks it’s his time to relax with the papers. The editors thoughtfully suggested she close the door while she’s cleaning up so as not to disturb him. This was said tongue-in-cheek. We think.

Resolution No. 6: I Will Get More Sleep

Sleeping at the Opera
Charles A. MacCullan
March 24, 1923

Last, but not least: I resolve to get more rest. This is a noble goal, since experts tell us that most Americans don’t get enough sleep. But perhaps not at the theater, mister. Wives are known to have sharp elbows. It doesn’t look as if the glaring technique is going to work. This cover is from 1923.