As long as I can remember, making New Year’s Resolutions has been an annual ritual with me. It all started at a very young age when my mother would ask me what my resolutions were for the New Year on New Year’s Eve. There was no indication from her words or tone of voice that would make me even think of saying anything but a detailed resolution. Quite commonly, the resolutions I’d make as a youngster would have to do with my school work or my clarinet playing. I could always say I would do better in school by studying more or spending more time on my homework, or I would resolve to spend more time practicing my clarinet – and those responses would, pretty much, satisfy the question.
My mother might suggest something like, “Why don’t you also make a resolution to take out the garbage every Sunday night before the garbage man comes on Monday – without me telling you to do it?” I’d grimace. I’d shrug and think: ‘that will be a hard one to keep.’
In time, the topic came up in school. To my surprise, I was one of the only students in the class who even knew what New Year’s Resolutions were. After the teacher explained it to the class, we were instructed to formally write our resolutions down on paper – starting with “I resolve to…”
It wasn’t until I was somewhat older that I would discuss New Year’s Resolutions with friends outside of school. I was shocked the first time someone told me, “I don’t make them.” After I said, “I thought everybody made them,” they said, “Not me. I’d only break them.” As time went on, I surprising discovered that a lot of people don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. I tried to promote the tradition when I taught school by making it a ‘back-to-school’ after the winter break activity, too.
To this day, I believe in making them and believe everybody should make them. The way the process works, it can’t be harmful to a person. First, as the end of the year approaches, it’s logical to think of January 1 as a new beginning. It’s also logical to think of the new beginning as a time to improve yourself in some way. That’s how I look at it. Resolutions, more or less, draw in the reigns from the wild ride I’d been taking during that holiday period from Thanksgiving to New Years in terms of possible overeating, overspending, and other things that can’t logically continue for health’s sake, for financial reasons, and more.
I must admit, however, that New Year’s Resolutions are difficult to keep. I’ve learned to keep the list short and detailed – to some extent. Also, I’ve learned to make the resolutions reasonable so there’s at least a prayer that I may successfully keep the resolution the entire year. Honestly, if I keep one or two of the resolutions all year, I feel that I have been successful. But, I don’t beat myself up over the resolutions I failed to keep. The reason is simple.
Let me explain with last year’s New Year’s Resolutions. I resolved to lose some weight, to take a lengthy walk every day, and read the entire Bible. I also resolved to conquer some undefined financial goals. Here’s the breakdown.
Every day of the year, I walked at least 15 minutes – most days more – without stopping. I walked either on a tread mill, in a mall or huge store, or outdoors – which is, by far, my favorite place to walk. Naturally, there were days I didn’t feel like walking because I just didn’t feel well. Yet, I made myself stick to the walking routine and am glad I did. My other success was in finding a Bible app which paced my reading of the Bible for 365 days. Throughout the year, there were times I was as much as two weeks ahead with my reading. A couple of times I got a couple of days behind. But, before year’s end, I read the entire Bible via the app. Of my resolutions, those are the ones I kept: walking every day and reading the entire Bible.
My loose financial goals were unfortunately not met. Next year, if I repeat that resolution, I’ll have to try harder on that one. But, I did curb my spending for about six months with the resolution in mind this past year. Therefore, the failed resolution was better than no such resolution because I stuck to it for half the year. That is obviously better than not watching my spending habits all 12 of the months in the past year. My resolution to lose weight failed for the most part. However, I managed to lose some weight in the first four months of the year before that resolution went belly-up, pun intended. Again, the failed resolution was better than no resolution because I stuck to a diet plan for four months which is better than not dieting all 12 months.
That bottom line: Make at least one resolution. Nobody has to know if you didn’t stick to it all year. And, even when you think you’ve failed, the time you’ve spent working on the resolution will have done you well. As I said, dieting several months was better than not having dieted at all in the past year.
Also, of the resolutions that you succeed at, you may want to repeat to continue improving yourself. For example, walking every day non-stop is a resolution I have enjoyed, for the most part – and I believe it has been good for me and time well-spent. Therefore, I’m going to do it again.
Here’s hoping one and all have a Happy New Year with an eye on making self-improvements in the New Year. Remember, for the period of time a resolution lasts, even a failed resolution is better than having had no resolution at all.