Welcome to 2018! I wanted to write a quick blog post to say hello and offer a few insights into why I’m fairly adamant about NOT following the hallowed tradition of setting New Year’s resolutions.
How many times have you promised to lose weight? Stop smoking? Stop drinking? Or even learn a new language? According to US News, over 80% of NYE resolutions fail by the second week in February. That’s a statistic that can’t be ignored.
I’ll get to that…but first, have you ever wondered who came up with this crazy concept of setting often unrealistic annual objectives?
Well, according to our friends at History.com, “The ancient Babylonians are said to have been the first people to make New Year’s resolutions, some 4,000 years ago. They were also the first to hold recorded celebrations in honor of the new year—though for them the year began not in January but in mid-March, when the crops were planted. During a massive 12-day religious festival known as Akitu, the Babylonians crowned a new king or reaffirmed their loyalty to the reigning king. They also made promises to the gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed. These promises could be considered the forerunners of our New Year’s resolutions. If the Babylonians kept to their word, their (pagan) gods would bestow favor on them for the coming year. If not, they would fall out of the gods’ favor—a place no one wanted to be.
A similar practice occurred in ancient Rome, after the reform-minded emperor Julius Caesar tinkered with the calendar and established January 1 as the beginning of the new year circa 46 B.C. Named for Janus, the two-faced god whose spirit inhabited doorways and arches, January had special significance for the Romans. Believing that Janus symbolically looked backwards into the previous year and ahead into the future, the Romans offered sacrifices to the deity and made promises of good conduct for the coming year.”
Ok… so, there is a symbolic (and historic) aspect of New Year’s resolutions. But… why do we continue to perpetuate these lofty promises knowing full well that we only have a 20% chance of success?
Consider why you haven’t changed jobs… fixed that squeaky door, or volunteered at your daughter’s school more.
Perhaps your goals and resolutions for the new year were based on the expectations of others…
Maybe you were too busy thinking about all of the wonderful positive changes that you wished to make that you didn’t get around to actually putting those plans into motion. Or maybe… just maybe… your heart simply wasn’t in it.
Actually, I’d be willing to bet that the biggest reason your resolutions fail year after year is that you haven’t really known what you want out of life. You are simply using it as a platform to maintain status quo. Going through the motions, but never 100% committed.
Subconsciously, this cycle of failure only serves to perpetuate and reinforce feelings of failure and inadequacy… which is obviously not conducive to achieving your goals.
Personally, change and self-improvement are an almost constant in my life. I’m always looking at ways to improve myself – internally and externally. I generally don’t need to set expectations or intentions, but rather only an end destination that I am fully invested in and committed to reaching. I then only need to “tune and improve” as I go. As I determine areas that I feel need to be adjusted or improved upon… I do it. No fanfare. No lists. No celebrations.
Once you take the pressure off you would be surprised how effective you can be.
So… how about making your one and only 2018 New Years resolutions to be that you simply allow you to be you?
No fancy lists. No broken promises. Just be yourself.
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Unknown