If your New Years Resolutions involve paying off your credit card or finally returning that thing you keep forgetting, you’re right on track with the ancient Babylonians, the first recorded people to hold celebrations in honor of the New Year and to make resolutions. If they didn’t pay their debts and returned all their borrowed objects, the gods would revoke their favor. Nowadays, we just stop going to the gym when that muscle-y meathead tries to cut in on our machine too many times.
“Too hard!” we cry. “I don’t have the time, money, willpower” — if we’re really willing to be introspective.
When Julius Caesar established the beginning of the New Year on January 1, ancient Romans named the first month after the god Janus, who symbolically looked backwards into the previous year and ahead into the future.
Nowadays, New Years Resolutions are primarily focused on self-improvement. About 45% of Americans say they make them, but only 8% say their experience any sort of success.
But here’s where I get real — I think resolutions are supposed to be fun, and the beginning of another year gives us the perfect opportunity to start something new. It provides us with a definite beginning and end, and marker to tell if we’ve been successful or not.
My resolutions this year include being a better listener (put down the phone while someone is talking to me!) and being more aware of my time management. I can get so much more done if I just wake up a little earlier and plan my day more carefully. My phone and other devices (while I love ‘em) provide so much opportunity for distraction from people I care about.
I think the key to making a successful resolution is to pick something challenging but doable, and keep it small. I recently spoke with a friend (while not looking at my phone, thank you very much) who says he always makes two resolutions a year — one focusing on internal change (his own thoughts, attitudes, etc), and one external (his actions, habits, etc). Two seems simple enough while still providing a challenge, and you’ll have more success if you focus making changes you can actually achieve instead of attempting to control the strange forces of the world around you.
What are your resolutions? Leave a comment and tell us what steps you’re taking to achieve them! And don’t forget to add stopping by Clementine’s and saying hi to your list!