New Year Resolutions

Every year, for most of my life someone would always ask, “Hey, what’s your resolution for the new year?” I would always have a blank look on my face like I had fallen down a rabbit hole. Almost everyone shares the same resolution that no one seems to plan on keeping long after January 1st. Most people will say my resolution for 2022 is to lose weight, exercise every day, walk more for exercise, find a better job, stop smoking cigarettes, meet the perfect partner, or start to eat better and live a healthier life. These usually never take place. Gyms around the world got wise and started offering discounted prices for anyone signing up for a year-long membership during the month of December. Why? Because they know that most people rushing to lay their money down probably won’t last two weeks and they have collected money for memberships that will never be used. I have to admit that it’s good marketing.

For several years, my partner and I would engage our true friends in an intimate party around the new year where we would all write our resolutions for the next year, seal them in an envelope and not share them with anyone in our circle of friends. Then we would proceed to enjoy each other’s company, pop the champagne, share fresh oysters and other nibbles that were combined with lots of fun laughter. The next year we would all come together again around the same date and the sealed envelope that had been locked away was returned to each person to review. Everyone was asked what they had written and if they had achieved their new year resolution. Without fail, we all laughed our heads off because no one remembered what had been written down the previous year.

After laughing until tears ran down our faces and legs, we slowly started to open the letters in silence. Can you guess what happened next? We all raised our heads up from reading our resolutions, looked at each other, and smiled before laughter started again. To our surprise, we had all achieved our goals without knowing it. There is something about writing a resolution down, locking it away in your brain or treasure chest, and forgetting all about it as your mind moves to make it happen. Some of the resolutions written down were:

  • I will sell my condo this year
  • I will complete my master’s degree by a certain date
  • I will start a new job at one of my chosen organizations
  • I will move to a new country
  • I will retire in 9 to 12 months
  • I will open a Thai Restaurant
  • I will get a job working for the Obama Administration

And they all came true, even though we didn’t remember actually writing them down. Maybe it was the champagne that helped us to forget, or it got engraved in our minds as we moved throughout the year, not knowing we were on track.

To be honest, I never thought much about making resolutions and connected it with just being a fun party game. So, I became interested in how and when this strange custom began and why is it such a big deal. According to How Stuff Works, it isn’t just a construct of modern societies. Some 4,000 years ago, Babylonians rang in their new year with an 11-day festival in March, and ancient Egyptians celebrated the advent of their new calendar during the Nile River’s annual flood. By 46 B.C., Roman emperor Julius Caesar had moved the first day of the year to January 1st in honour of the Roman god of beginnings, Janus, an idea that took some time to catch on. However, in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII brought the January 1st New Year back in vogue with the Gregorian calendar — a concept that persists today. The origin of making New Year’s resolutions rests with the Babylonians, who reportedly made promises to the gods in hopes they’d earn good favour in the coming year. They often resolved to get out of debt like many of us.

So why do we fail to keep resolutions that we make in good faith every year? According to research, 80% or more of people usually fail to keep their resolution. So why is the quitting percentage so high? One of the most common reasons people break their New Year’s resolutions is they get overzealous when creating them and often will over-commit. Many of us will blame our busy work schedules or busy home life for our lack of follow through. It may be easier to keep just one resolution rather than several.

One problem may be that we make the resolution too fast without taking the time to think about it. It’s essential when making any decision or planning a goal to not be in a rush. Lessons in life have taught me to always think about goals and how to reach them successfully. Being committed to one’s resolution creates enough motivation to maintain the focus. It’s never easy to commit to a resolution, especially during difficult times, like living through the COVID pandemic. With practice, we all can change our mindset, it just takes time. When one commits to taking the stairs more, it gets difficult when you are running late and the elevator is available and faster, but we must stay motivated in order to reach our goals. Remember to create a resolution for the new year that may be challenging but is reachable.

So, have you decided on your resolution for the new year? Write it down, place it in an envelope, and tuck it away somewhere safe where you will remember to find it next year. Happy New Year!

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Mikael Wagner is a communications project manager with focus on health promotion, public relations , marketing and focus group facilitation.

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Mikael Wagner

Mikael Wagner

Mikael Wagner is a communications project manager with focus on health promotion, public relations , marketing and focus group facilitation.

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