Don’t Make a New Year’s Resolution
I was curious — when did New Year’s resolutions become a “thing?” According to Wikipedia, the custom has religious origins:
The people made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts.
The Romans began each year by making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named.
In the medieval era, the knights took the "peacock vow" at the end of the Christmas season each year to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry.
At watchnight services, many Christians prepare for the year ahead by praying and making these resolutions. In Methodist Christianity, the liturgy used for the watchnight service for the New Year is the Covenant Renewal Service; in addition to being traditionally held on New Year's Eve, many churches offer the Convenant Renewal Service on both New Year's Eve and on the morning of New Year's Day.
This tradition has many other religious parallels. During Judaism's New Year, Rosh Hashanah, through the High Holidays and culminating in Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), one is to reflect upon one's wrongdoings over the year and both seek and offer forgiveness. People can act similarly during the Christian liturgical season of Lent, although the motive behind this holiday is more of sacrifice than of responsibility. The concept, regardless of creed, is to reflect upon self-improvement annually.
Many people make New Year’s Resolutions each year. Quitting smoking, getting in shape and losing weight are some of the most popular ones. Unfortunately, many well-intended New Year’s Resolutions fail. Why? Probably because people make goals that are not SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely).
Instead of setting ourselves up for failure by setting goals that are not SMART, why don’t we just make efforts to be mindful and improve ourselves? How about we Be Here Now? Let’s not dwell on what happened last year. Let’s not stress out over things that might happen. Let’s Be Here Now! Being grateful for the things we have and the people in our lives positively affects our attitudes. It can also lead us to change bad habits that distract from being here now. The result — continuous self-improvement without obsessing about resolutions!
However, if you are determined to set a resulution for yourself, here are a few tips on setting SMART goals from Mindtools.com:
Your goal must be clear and well defined. Vague or generalized goals are unhelpful because they don’t provide sufficient direction. Remember, you need goals to show you the way. Make it as easy as you can to get where you want to go by defining precisely where you want to end up.
Include precise amounts, dates, and so on in your goals so you can measure your degree of success. Without a way to measure your success you miss out on the celebration that comes with knowing you have actually achieved something.
Make sure that it’s possible to achieve the goals you set. If you set a goal that you have no hope of achieving, you will only demoralize yourself and erode your confidence.
However, resist the urge to set goals that are too easy. Accomplishing a goal that you didn’t have to work hard for can be anticlimactic at best and can also make you fear setting future goals that carry a risk of non-achievement. By setting realistic yet challenging goals, you hit the balance you need. These are the types of goals that require you to “raise the bar” and they bring the greatest personal satisfaction.
Goals should be relevant to the direction you want your life and career to take. By keeping goals aligned with this, you’ll develop the focus you need to get ahead and do what you want. Set widely scattered and inconsistent goals, and you’ll fritter your time – and your life – away.
Your goals must have a deadline. Again, this means that you know when you can celebrate success. When you are working on a deadline, your sense of urgency increases, and achievement will come that much quicker.
Thanks for reading!