What’s in a resolution? And why do we make them?
Another year is over and another set of new year resolutions are quickly being contemplated. The only way we can successfully enter the new year is if we admit we will correct bad habits from the previous one. We scurry to form a list before the ball drops to have these indecencies in writing as if they weren’t already at the forefront of our thoughts and behaviors. But why? We know they’re bad habits and choices, we live with them. So why wait until the first day of a new year to do something about them? Why not set a theme for your year going forward?
The Almanac dates the start of new year resolutions back to 2000 B.C. Then the Babylonians celebrated a 12-day festival called Akitu at the start of the vernal equinox (or the first day of spring). To welcome the new farming season, farmers would mend ties and pay back debts before planning their next harvest.
I can see going into a new season without debt a beneficial way to start on the right foot. My biggest debt of the year has to be the countless times I backed out of social events and special occasions because of my Covid paranoia. With the start of preschool, new germs, new variants, and another year in a “new normal” those debts will, unfortunately, go unpaid. However, they will not follow me into the new year because they will not be apart of my new season. I will also, not resolve to let this paranoia keep me from being present at future gatherings because I can’t honestly say that will be true. So I suppose I could be better at explaining myself to those I could potentially owe an explanation to in the new year. Although, how much of myself, at 35 years of age, needs to be changed or explained? Instead I can resolve to show a better side of me.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of things I’d like to change about myself, but is that truly the right way to go into the new year? Highlighting our flaws and debts. Is looking at what needs to be fixed the best perspective? Probably not. At least not for me.
Merriam-Webster says resolutions are meant to be broken and it’s no wonder they have that tendency. The whole premise goes hand in hand with failure. “You’ve failed to keep this out of your life, you now have this new year to fix the failure and never, ever, fail again”.
The New York Post says a global online study of 31.5 million people found new year resolutions do not live past January 12th. Can you make it past January 12th with your current list of resolutions? Or should you simply put a theme to your new year?
Make healthier choices is at the top of nearly 50% of each list of resolutions. I could narrow making healthier choices down to STOP EATING SO MUCH SUGAR. I, myself, allow the start of the Halloween season through the day after Christmas to be the period of time I over indulge in sugary treats with little to no guilt. Chocolate covered mini candy bars, pumpkin pie, and decorated Christmas sugar cookies to be exact. I know once December 26th hits my appetite for all things sugary will be exhausted and I can detox for five days before the new year starts and I say to myself, ‘I will let go of this bad habit’.
In reality, I do so until the start of the very next Halloween. It is a cycle that new year resolutions have gifted me in my adult years. Suppose I chose to be better at understanding what draws me to this habit instead? Whether it be the need to pack on the inevitable winter pounds before my friends do, or it be how I subconsciously deal with the change of seasons, dissecting this behavior might just be a better way as opposed to changing who I am to get to those healthier choices.
Some would argue setting short term and long term goals is a sure fire way to keep successful resolutions in the new year. I set a goal to deadlift 185 lbs by the end of the year. I made it to 140 lbs. What limited me reaching this goals? Likely dedicating time to practice and being bogged down with too many other fitness goals. It could have also been the lengthy list of resolutions I tried to keep up with. I also said I would read one book a month. Man does a month go by fast!
Would it have been easier to resolve to be better at committing to a goal or to be better at seeing it through. For me, all the above and being better at knowing my limits could lead me to success. It is more rewarding to add to a list than to have an incomplete one sit at your bedside.
Making a list is always a great way to remember to get things done. Don’t stop making your list of resolutions just be honest and more thoughtful about where you are right now and where you want to be, not just in the new year.
Are short term goals more achievable? Or should goals be more progressive?
Rather than resolve to two weeks of punishment and cruelty toward yourself over this list, try setting a theme. Might it be more self compassion? Or honesty? Perhaps loyalty to yourself and others is goal that can be included in all that you strive for. Or maybe appreciation and gratitude. Can you guess what my theme is?
To simply be better.
Sounds easy but we can get off track with something so simple just like we do with that simple list of new year resolutions. Focus on questioning the moments that define your day to live your theme to the fullest.
I want to be a better mom because I know I am a good mom. I want to be better at accepting the mistakes I’ve made because those mistakes, while some may say they don’t define me, I allow them to grow on me so I can be made better from them. I want to be a better listener and a better reader. To listen to the entire conversation and be better at finishing and understanding the next book I read. Better and better as these 35 years grow.
I want to be a better leader, a better writer, a better communicator, a better wife, a better person. I want to be a better version of me. The one that I have been designed to be with the debts and flaws and failures, just better.