I told a friend the other day that I was planning to have the best 2021 ever! When he responded that he couldn’t wait to hear my plans, I realized that I didn’t actually have any plans. After a horrible 2020, I just planned to be happier. I’m not a big fan of new year’s resolutions because I believe they are doomed to guilt-inducing failures. So I say “no thanks” to New Year’s resolutions.
An interesting article by Sarah Pruitt, which I’ll summarize here, tells the history of New Year’s resolutions. 4,000 years ago the ancient Babylonians are said to have been the first people to make New Year’s resolutions. 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.
The ancient Romans offered sacrifices to the Gods and made promises of good conduct for the coming year. For early Christians, the first day of the new year became the traditional occasion for thinking about one’s past mistakes and resolving to do and be better in the future. Instead of making promises to the Gods, most people today make resolutions only to themselves, and focus solely on self-improvement.
From what I have read, the most common resolutions are the following:
- Exercise more
- Lose weight
- Get organized
- Learn a new skill or hobby
- Live life to the fullest
- Save more money / spend less money
- Quit smoking
- Spend more time with family and friends
- Travel more
- Read more
How many of those items have I failed??? All of them, except for smoking. I have never smoked.
Resolutions, no thanks!
Instead of major unachievable resolutions, I prefer to set small daily goals. Changing behavior is a difficult and complex task, and it’s most often successful when it’s done a little bit at a time. For example, years ago I vowed to make a “to do” list every day. I never vowed to complete the list in one day! Years later, I still make that list every day while I drink my morning coffee. If there is something left from the day before, I add it. Sometimes an item is on the list for a long time! It’s OK. At the end of the day, I feel such a sense of accomplishment for the items I did complete.
After spending a week or so of decadent eating and drinking, January 1 is a terrible day to start a program of self improvement. Is this the day I’m going to feel motivated to diet? Really? I don’t know about you, but I have trouble just getting through the long, cold, depressing month of January. For me, this is more a month to just take stock of my life.
The older I get, the harder I try to avoid setting myself up for failure. This isn’t a good feeling for me. This is not to say that I don’t try to implement healthy changes. I do. But I do it slowly and I try to remain positive. If I slip, I forgive myself and continue on. So, do I have any goals for 2021? Of course I do.
- Continue working on finishing my basement. I’ve been working on it for several years now and I want to keep going until it is finished.
- Start playing the piano again. Not to play for others, but for myself because I love it.
- Continue learning the technical side of computing. It’s good for my brain and, after all, I am trying to write a blog.
- Continue sorting and discarding my belongings. All this extra stuff is making me crazy.
- Be thankful for all that I have and for every day. I do realize how lucky I am.
Favorite New Year’s Quote
“Many years ago, I made a New Year’s resolution to never make new year’s resolutions. Hell, it’s been the only resolution I’ve ever kept!”
As we pick up the pieces and move on, may the gift of the New Year be filled with hope. Keep smiling, everyone, and have a wonderful, healthy year.