Let me start by wishing all the readers of One True Blue a Happy New Year, and share with you some historical facts about the origins of New Year’s resolutions, just in case you have prepared a list… or two!
It is believed that making New Year’s resolutions started some 4,000 years ago, when the ancient Babylonians made promises (such as returning borrowed farm equipment), in order to earn favors from the gods. But for them the year began not in January, but in mid-March, when the crops were planted.
As for Emperor Julius Cesar, he named the month of January after Janus, the Roman god of beginnings, and named January 1st New Year’s Day. Getting back to our century, I have a feeling that somehow the stress of making New Year’s resolutions and sticking to them (or not) wasn’t part of the Babylonians ritual.
Reset the button thoughtfully. Today, the New Year has become a time when we hit the reset button, we evaluate the year that has passed, and we set goals that will help us improve during the new coming year. And we begin -for most of us at least- setting unrealistic goals: “I am going to stop smoking come January 1st”, “I am going to drop 10 kilos by end of February (omitting that we all have probably just gained at least 2kgs during the holidays), “I promise I am going to become less anxious, save more money, workout 6 days a week, become vegetarian…” and the list goes on.
Research shows (www.smarterliving.com), that we usually set resolutions based on external factors that are telling us to change, such as society and/or peer pressure. But, our goals should come from our own will , from within us after some inward looking and self-reflection. Furthermore, most of the time we are unrealistic in our objectives. As a result, two weeks into the new year, we realize that indeed our so-called resolutions are hard to attain, as they weren’t thought of with defined markers of success in mind, and we end up giving up pretending like it never happened. Will try again next year.
It is still January 14th so please read on before you throw away that one list… or two.
Be “SMART” at planning your resolutions or goals
A popular goal setting structure called S.M.A.R.T can be used in helping you attain those New Year’s resolutions. The method stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound.
The difference then, between a resolution and a goal can be seen in the following classic New Year’s example:
1. New Year’s Resolution: “I’m going to lose weight in the new year.”
2. New Year’s Goal: “I will lose 15 pounds by spring, and I will do so by working out four days a week while also reducing my food intake to 1,500 calories per day.”
According to the S.M.A.R.T ‘s method, a goal is different than a resolution because it is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-limited (S.M.A.R.T.). Statistically speaking, one is far more likely to lose 15 pounds with the goal than he is to lose any weight with the resolution. “You can still call them New Year’s resolutions, but if you want resolutions with staying power, you’re going to have to set them as S.M.A.R.T. goals”.
So bring out the list, and work around your resolutions so you can make them workable and successful. Do not give them the power to become yet another cliché that will sound something like “It didn’t work this year, but I swear I will make it next year”. Make that reset button of January 1st a success.
Cheers and one step at a time…