At the beginning of the year, many of us make promises to ourselves or make decisions to do or not do something. These promises or decisions are usually to do (or stop doing) something to improve behaviour or lifestyle in some way.
The practice of making New Year's resolutions is worldwide and its origins go far back in history. The basic premise is a generally a negative one. The assumption is that there is something wrong with our habits, behaviours, etc. that needs to be remedied by a change. These resolutions are often not related to all the other goal setting we do throughout the year.
As far back as ancient Babylon, at the beginning of the new year, people made promises to their gods to pay their debts and return things they had borrowed. The Romans made a variety of promises to the god, Janus (January is named after him). In medieval times, knights made a "peacock vow" to uphold chivalry. It sounds pretty similar to what many of us do now.
Why do we do this? What are the roots to our underlying dissatisfaction with ourselves and our lives? Are we really as messed up, out of shape, and in need of repair as the vast array of resolutions would seem to indicate? I don't think so.
I believe that we are all busy with both life and working on improving ourselves and that life sometimes gets in the way of keeping up with all the commitments we have made. If our home life is great, work might not be. If our work is great, our health might not be an area of focus. It's often a graduated, and uneven path.
A number of studies have shown that nearly 90% of people who set resolutions are not successful. Why? Do we set unrealistic goals, lack follow through, try to do too much, get frustrated with not getting results. or just plain forget and go back to our "old" ways?
It's likely a combination of some or maybe even all of the above. Add in all our other commitments and it's pretty easy to see that resolutions, in and of themselves, are probably not the best thing that we could do for ourselves.
Many of us are on a path of self improvement, personal growth, and improved fitness all while working, maintaining our relationships, and doing life maintenance things such as grocery shopping.
If we make a commitment to change and set specific, measurable goals, we are much more likely to succeed than if we make fluffy, non-specific goals. If we set a goal of "walk 20 minutes every day" we are more likely to succeed than if we say "walk more often".
The downside of making a New Year's Resolution is, quite possibly, the fact that we may feel obligated to make one. Combined with a memory of the failed resolution from last year, we may even believe that we are setting ourselves up for failure.
So, what do we do, in our quest for growth and self improvement?
Perhaps the most effective course we could take would to be to not make a New Year's Resolution this year.
I'm not saying to throw caution to the wind and disregard diet, exercise, spiritual, or other goals. Set a goal, instead. Don’t call it a New Year’s Resolution. You don’t even have to call it anything.
My simple suggestion is to pick one small, doable thing and make an actual plan to accomplish that thing. I would suggest that we use the "S.M.A.R.T." method (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based) as an effective strategy. Just as we would with any other goal setting at any other time of the year.
My goal for starting out this year is to be more kind to myself and do my self care.
Have fun and celebrate your success!
Remember, I’m here for you on your path and would be happy to help you set your goal and success plan for the year.
Rev. Shirlee Rankin has been a therapist, educator, and speaker for over 30 years and is an Advanced Soul Realignment Practitioner, Ohana Generational Healing Practitioner, Reiki Master, Crystal Practitioner, Animal Communicator, and is an Ordained Metaphysical Minister. Through years of dedication and study in various physical and metaphysical streams, she is dedicated t o helping people discover t heir Divine Life Purpose and assist s couples and families wit h Soul Realignment , Relationship Readings, Healing family traumas, and perform s crystal and reiki treatments for both people and animals. Shirlee is now called to help in a new way by becoming a metaphysical minister and offering her services as a counselor, wedding officiant , and celebrates life transitions. 416-434-1066