Come December 31st, you may feel inclined to pledge allegiance to a new way of life, a resolution to amend some perceived defect in your character. Faster than you can say epic fail, just remember that this is merely a trap, a perfect way to set yourself up for failure.
Where did this need to fix ourselves at the end of the calendar page come about? Why do we put ourselves through this year in and year out? What resolutions rate as the top of the heap? Here’s a look at what’s what.
The practice of making these promises to one’s self actually has its roots in ancient Babylon. The Babylonians would swear to their gods that they would pay their debts by returning objects that they had borrowed.
The Romans followed suit by avowing the practice of praying to the god Janus, for whom January is named after. The “peacock vow” was the way that knights during the Medieval age re-committed their work ethic of remaining chivalrous for the upcoming year.
During watch-night services, a late-night service held by the Christian church service, parishioners would prepare for the upcoming year in a combination of prayer, song, and confession.
On the other end of the religious spectrum, during Judaism’s New Year Rosh Hashanah that culminates with Yom Kippur - The Day of Atonement - members of the religion are asked to reflect upon the past year and seek forgiveness and offer up ways to right their wrongs.
The Top 5
Here are some helpful tips in attempting to keep your steely resolve during the cold winter months; the biggest one is to just choose one of these from the list and look at it as a goal. Goals seem to have a better connotation than the dreaded r word.
5. Volunteer to Help Others: Many of us are all about what we can do for ourselves, as charity starts at home as the saying goes. Maybe instead of vegging out in front of the TV, you can, gasp, go outside and volunteer at an animal shelter. Or maybe you are partial to one type of dog, a Labrador, for instance, then check out Labrador Rescuers. The organization rehabilitates the canines and aides in finding them their forever homes.
4. Save Money: Here’s a helpful tip…start saving money! Then you’ll have more mean green to accrue the financial security to blow it on a trip, home improvements, shopping your favorite boutiques (i.e. Junc) or my all-time favorite…gum. Piggybacking off that - no, not Juicy Fruit - you can manage your debt by actually paying attention to how much is going on versus how much is coming in. Just write in everything you spend into - say it with me - a ledger down to the penny; it really makes things so much easier than wondering where all that money went, unless you have a mouthful of Hubba Bubba, that is.
3. Get A Better Job: It’s called the classifieds section in your local paper, people, or online venues such as Craigslist…just make sure you click on the right section or you may get another kind of job. If you are the creative type, mediabistro.com
is a great place to look for gainful employment.
2. Cutting Back On Bad Habits: For some people, the necessity to get their swerve on can be problematic. The rooms of 12-step programs will invariably fill up with those who will introduce themselves as, “I’m blank and I’m an alcoholic” on New Year’s Day.
Everyone knows that smoking cigarettes makes you look cool; still some want to knock the Marlboro Man off his horse on January 1st. There’s a slew of ways to do this, including: going cold turkey and being hypnotized. Be careful in selecting a hypnotist, no one wants to end up clucking like a chicken, rather than not smoking like the proverbial chimney.
1. Getting Healthy: This Number One with a bullet game changer encompasses a number of ways to combat the battle of the bulge. Seeing as Americans are at their heaviest in recent history, the desire to slim down is at an all-time high.
Switching your diet from Big Mac’s and the like to healthier fare will undoubtedly reduce your spare tire. But you will need to employ training wheels in switching gears on how you view food. A really simple trick is to not wolf it down like some feral creature; instead take time to actually taste what is going into your gullet and slow the hell down, then you won’t want seconds, thirds or even fourths.
The number of gym memberships going up at the first part of the year is reflective in the wait time to get on machines that populate said gym. By February you will most likely be able to get your pump on in an environment that is not so crowded.
To quote U2, “nothing changes on New Year’s Day.” This is indicative of a 2007 study by one Richard Wiseman -so you know its true right there - of the University of Bristol. In the study, 88% of the 3,000 people poled coped to the fact that New Year’s resolutions crash and burn in the light of New Year’s Day.
However, 52% of participants were “confident of success at the beginning.” Males were able to achieve their resolutions when they practiced goal setting. This system of setting smaller goals is merely a simple way of changing one’s language. For example, instead of saying, “I’m going to lose weight,” changing it to losing a pound a week works for these fellas.
Women were prone to succeed by 10% more when they made their goals public and receiving support from their friends.
Frank Ra summed it up in his New Year’s resolution-centric tome, A Course in Happiness thusly:
“Resolutions are more sustainable when shared, both in terms of with whom you share the benefits of your resolution, and with whom you share the path of maintaining your resolution. Peer-support makes a difference in success rate with New Year’s Resolutions.”
Well, that’s all well and good…unless your resolution is to make more friends. ~Tim Parks