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New Year's Resolutions
It’s Resolution Season
It is that time of year again when people all over the country set new, well-intended goals for the year ahead. This is also the time of year that many people enjoy making fun of those well-intended goals. However, New Year resolutions have a long history and are serious business, sort of.
The History of Making New Year Resolutions
You might think making resolutions each year is a modern tradition, but you would be wrong. According to sources such as the Grant Tribune way back in ancient Rome, around 153 B.C, ancient Romans celebrated their new year by trying to mend ties with friends they may have upset and to clear up bad feelings. The word, “resolution,” of course comes from “resolve” which can mean either to settle or solve some issue, in the case of ancient Romans it was usually issues between persons, or to make a serious, determined decision. The latter is what we in the modern age usually mean when we talk about making our New Year resolutions, but the sentiment of making a fresh start is the same.
To represent the process of resolving the past and looking towards the future year, the ancient Romans used their mythological figure, Janus, who was two-faced -- but not in the unkind, backstabbing way. Instead, the two faces represented his convenient ability to look forward and backward without having to turn his head. Many years later, the name of Janus became the name of the first month of a new Calendar developed by Julius Caesar. Now, we call it January and, similar to the ancient Romans, we spend the eve before and the first day of January celebrating and resolving.
The Most Common New Year Resolutions
According to the folks over at the U.S. government, the most popular resolutions include eating healthier, losing weight and quitting smoking. The theme of the most common resolutions is, unsurprisingly, to increase physical health and general well-being.
Ways to Keep Your Resolutions
Owners of health clubs and gyms probably look forward with glee to the New Year. They know that multitudes will make fitness goals and that means more gym memberships. In January, most of those people probably make a good effort to stick to those goals, motivated a bit more by the extra inches that appear on the waistline from holiday feasting. Keeping resolutions of any kind requires changing habits however, and this means work and discipline, which doesn’t feel very fun most of the time. So, how can you push through this tendency to break your resolutions? Here are a few tips:
1. Have an accountability buddy. Pick a friend who isn’t intimidated by you if you get angry, and will ignore your excuses or pleas when you decide you don't want to continue with your plan to become as fit as Hercules or giving up delicious things that are bad for you.
2. Break up the big resolution into tiny goals. This helps most if you are resistant to big lifestyle changes, as many are. For example, if your goal is fitness, pick one new exercise to add to your routine each week instead of trying to workout two hours per day every day.
3. Post reminders to yourself and motivational quotes. This keeps your mind on track. Just know that on bad days even the motivational quotes might want you to throw things across the room. Ignore the bad days and move on.
4. Combine your resolutions. A long list of resolutions can feel intimidating. If you fall into this category, combine them. Be specific about changes you want to make, but add them to categories. For example, if two of your resolutions are to exercise more and eat healthier foods, combine these under a fitness category. It sounds odd, perhaps, but it is just a sneaky way to convince the inner lazy side that there is less work to do.
Less Common Resolutions to Consider
Many perfectly good resolutions were missing from the list of common resolutions. Here are a few to consider:
1. Have more fun! The goal of many common resolutions is to look better or feel better because in the end, that makes life easier and more enjoyable. You could bypass much of that, especially if you don’t think you would keep those resolutions, and just strive to have more fun.
2. Be kinder! Kindness towards others lifts everyone up, including the person being kind. It costs little to nothing and is easy once you turn it into a habit.
3. Do something fun, yet out of character each month. This could be attending something interesting you’ve never had the nerve to go to, or it could be wearing a different style, or anything else that adds a little excitement or safe weirdness to life.
4. Learn one new skill. This one is good because you can choose an easy skill or difficult one and you have all year to do it.
No matter which resolutions you choose to inflict upon yourself this year, remember that it matters. Even if you do join the multitudes that break their resolutions, you made an attempt and that counts for something. For that, remember to reward yourself instead of grumbling at yourself.