Why is there so much attention on resolutions at the beginning of the year? It may have something to do with tradition. According to Margarita Tartakovsky at Psych Central, setting New Year’s resolutions is believed to date back to Babylonian times. Julius Caesar started the tradition of making resolutions on January 1 as a way to honor the Roman mythical god Janus, whose two faces allowed him to look back into the past year and forward to the new year.
The start of a new calendar year gets us thinking about change. We reminisce over the year that has passed and our thoughts wander to what we could have done better. The New Year always feels like we’re starting from scratch and there’s excitement in making a fresh start with a clean slate. Another motivator is the desire to improve ourselves. With all the focus on goals and resolutions at this time of year we’ve become conditioned to think about making self-improvements.
My husband and I have shared our New Year’s Eve “review and renew” ritual for years. We get out our calendars and reminisce over the year that has passed and then think about what we’d like to do more of that we didn’t do this year. Then I go off on my own and think about ways to challenge myself with some goals for the New Year.
I write down the eight categories I learned during my training as a life coach with the Coaches Training Institute:
- significant other/romance
- personal growth
- physical environment
I don’t feel compelled to come up with a goal for each category—just the ones that bring me the greatest joy and satisfaction. For example, this spring I want to plan a birthday celebration with my three friends from elementary school.
I’ve found the most important steps for accomplishing my goals are to:
- Write them down and review them once a month.
- Make them realistic and satisfying so I’ll want to accomplish them.
- Make sure they align with my values.
- Create a plan of action.
- Share my goals with others for support and encouragement.
Unfortunately, the same factors that make us creatures of habit in setting resolutions also keep us from achieving them. It’s hard to change something about ourselves that we’ve been doing for years. Make sure your expectations are realistic and just set one or two goals that will bring you the greatest reward for your efforts.
Have you made any New Year’s resolutions? Please share yours.