New Year’s Resolutions – Friend or Foe?

As that time is rolling around where people will be making resolutions for the coming year, I started wondering about it all. What is a resolution exactly? And how did that get started anyway?

The dictionary defines a resolution as a firm decision to do or not to do something. No big surprise there.

People have been making resolutions for probably 4,000 years. It was around 2,000 years ago, in Rome that resolutions became connected to, what is now, the New Year. At that time it was all about spirituality.

People would spend New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day in services reflecting on the past year and seeing how they could be more valuable people and treat others better. This idea spread throughout most of the Western cultures. Which is how we got here today.

It has only been in the past two hundred years that we started to make our resolutions more about self-improvement: more about external rather than internal work on ourselves.

The big ones are weight loss and going to the gym, followed by letting go of bad habits like smoking and things of that nature.

I think we set ourselves up for failure when we choose one day a year to make hard and unattainable goals, in order to try and correct all the things we want to be better at, and have for ourselves.

Then, when we cannot achieve these insanely strict rules we have put on ourselves we feel like failures; and shame and guilt set in.

Maybe instead, if throughout the year we were to look at who we want to be in the world and take baby steps to achieve those goals, we would have a better chance of attaining them.

Why not has this include both how we want to be as human beings and how we can improve ourselves? We can have that lean body and get rid of bad habits, while still working on being more loving and compassionate as well.

The idea of using New Year’s Day to reflect upon our lives, without being hard on ourselves is certainly wonderful. But there is no value in reflecting for a change if we judge ourselves.

Then we can start the process of defining what we would like to accomplish throughout the year and what it would take to get there.

Rome wasn’t built in a day!

© 2016 Alice Badler

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