With a hand full of days until Christmas, the pressure is on. As people dash to make last-minute purchases, get those greeting cards out before the big day and (not so) anxiously anticipate Aunt Harriet’s yearly fruit cake, there is an even more daunting task looming… The New Year’s Resolution.
With millions of New Year’s resolutions claimed every 31 Dec/1 Jan of every year, the origins of the practice date back to Medieval times, the Romans and even the Babylonian empires. The resolution concept can often be thought of as secular, however there are similar practices of reflecting upon wrong-doings during the year and seeking and offering forgiveness during the Jewish seasons of Rosh Hashanah, High Holidays and Yom Kippur as well as the Roman Catholic season of Lent.
So, why do we make resolutions?
* We take advantage of the popular opportunity to start from scratch as we look back on the past year and strive for something better.
* There is never a bad time for self improvement. Improvement is improvement, right?
* It sparks hope.
* This saying:
Why do we fail?
* We set unrealistic goals and time frames for ourselves.
* There is lack of a workable plan.
* Often people don’t allow mistakes. You are human. You will err, you will learn and you will continue.
* Many don’t team up with a friend or family member for encouragement. The idiom ‘There is safety in numbers’ fits perfectly here.
* Resolutions often mean a change in life style and behaviors, sometimes very large behaviors. Being truly honest with yourself can be extremely difficult at times. Often people aren’t ready or willing to make those stressful observations.
What’s an improved plan?
* Be realistic in your goals. No more resolving you’ll run a marathon in 3 months. Take your time and make small changes.
* Create a plan and stick with it. Impulsive resolutions are often disastrous. Address problems and setbacks, track your progress and praise yourself (even if it’s getting out of bed in the morning).
* Give yourself a break. No one is perfect and no one should try to be.
* Put the song, ‘Lean on Me’ on your play list. Invite your friends, family or even the dog to join you in making changes. We’re all in this together and encouraging others will rub off on you!
* Honestly is the best policy. Examine the reasons you have created poor or harmful habits for yourself. Identifying the root of bad habits and knowing what needs to change can turn them into strengths.
We often hear friends, family and neighbors state they don’t believe in or make resolutions around the New Year or ever. Of course, with everything, everyone is entitled to their own opinions and path in life. But, here’s something to consider: think about making a resolution at other times of the year. It’s never a bad day to make a good change. Break the thought that 1 January is the only (or best) time of year to start a new chapter. Making a personal choice such as this may be better served on June 15th or October 4th or your birthday or anniversary (provided they don’t fall around the December/January mark) without the added stress of the holiday hubbub.
Above all, remember to be kind to yourself. Relax and drink some tea, go for a walk, meditate, pray or indulge in a slice of Aunt Harriet’s fruit cake. Happy New Year!