Blog 1 - New Year Resolutions?

It is now several days into 2017 and many resolutions will have been made and undoubtedly broken too.

This year there seems to be more media coverage than ever about New Year resolutions, what they might be, and how we achieve them and this prompted me to take a closer look at finding the answers starting with their likely origin which seems to be religious.

Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts.

The Romans began each year by making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named.

In the Medieval era, the knights took the "peacock vow" at the end of the Christmas season each year to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry.

At watchnight services, many Christians prepare for the year ahead by praying and making these resolutions.

Despite the tradition’s religious roots, New Year’s resolutions today are not so, and instead of making promises to the gods most people make resolutions only to themselves, focussing on self-improvement. According to recent research, while as many as 45 percent of Americans say they usually make New Year’s resolutions, only 8 percent are successful in achieving their goals. But that dismal record probably won’t stop people from making resolutions anytime soon—after all, we’ve had about 4,000 years of practice.

It seemed sensible to find a dictionary definition of “resolution” and the Oxford describes it as “A firm decision to do or not to do something” so no real surprise there and I am sure all of us would like to think we are decisive and can achieve.

I then looked for the definition of “goal” and interestingly it was its sport connection that took prominence but for personal purposes it was described as “The object of a person's ambition or effort; an aim or desired result” whereas the Business Directory describes “an observable and measurable end result having one or more objectives to be achieved within a more or less fixed timeframe”.

All very familiar and straightforward but nothing here to tell us why we don’t stick to New Year Resolutions or indeed to offer guidance to help us do so but maybe we should simply call them goals or objectives and apply the same effort, enthusiasm, and commitment but also use our normal criteria/ support mechanisms.

Thought for the day “I resolve to do whatever it takes to achieve my goal(s)

  • Your goal should be specific. Make your goal concrete, and if necessary, break it down into smaller steps. For example, if your resolution is to consume fewer carbohydrates, resolve to eat carbohydrates only at one meal per day rather than resolving to eliminate carbohydrates entirely initially.
  • Write it down and put it somewhere where you can see it on a daily basis. This will help you to stay focused.
  • Be accountable to yourself by letting others know about your resolution.
  • Have coping strategies in place to deal with obstacles that may arise along the way.  For example, if your goal is to drink less alcohol you may consider skipping parties or events that involve a lot of drinking or take a sober friend along to provide you with support and to help keep you on track.
  • Reward yourself at each milestone; if you resolve to spend less money; reward yourself by allowing yourself a treat. It is important to be conscious of the rewards you chose.
  • Ask for help. Try to be open to seeking support from friends, family or professionals when needed. Knowing when to ask for help takes a great deal of courage, strength and wisdom.

Have I convinced you that you CAN stick to your resolutions and so achieve your goals? I do hope so and let’s review this time next year.