A New Year = A New You?
We are now a week into 2017 and how many of us made New Year Resolutions that we are struggling to keep? A New Year’s resolution is a promise we make for the New Year and the goal is to improve our lives in the year ahead. Resolutions take many forms but are usually to change a bad habit such as smoking, excessive drinking or eating junk food, or to develop a positive habit such as exercising more, volunteering for a worthwhile cause or looking after ourselves more.
As the clock strikes midnight on 31st December we make decisions to improve our lives in the year ahead but how did this custom originate?
The tradition started in 153 B.C. January is named after a mythical god of early Rome, Janus. Janus had two faces, which allowed him to look back on the past and forward to the future. On 31st December, the Romans imagined Janus looking backward to the old year and forward to the New Year. The Romans made resolutions for the New Year and forgave enemies for troubles in the past. They also believed that Janus would forgive them for their wrongdoings during the previous year. The Romans would give gifts and make promises, believing that Janus would see this and bless them in the year ahead. And thus the New Year’s Resolution was born!
Above are some of the most common New Year resolutions but why do we have such a hard time keeping to them?
One theory is that we try to do too much. So perhaps set a goal that is challenging, but manageable. If you try to do much you are more likely to fail and this can drain your confidence. So, build on small victories and achievements and take one thing at a time.
Whatever goals you do tackle, try to monitor your progress. If your resolution is to lose weight, check your weight regularly (but not obsessively). If it’s to save money, write down where you’ve spent your money. Monitoring those few, challenging goals you set is more likely to improve your success. Sometimes, just the act of recording everything you eat or spend can cause you to eat or spend less even if you don’t consciously change anything else.
Many resolutions include overcoming bad habits, such as smoking or too much alcohol consumption. These could be tough because they are easy to rely on when stressed out. But, again, take things a day at a time and think about joining support groups and encourage friends to join you in your resolution. This could really help if you want to get more exercise or lose weight. It’s more fun to go to the gym or exercise classes with a friend.
If you have made some New Year’s Resolutions, here are some tips to help you succeed:
- Focus on one resolution rather than several, and set realistic, specific goals. Losing weight is not a specific goal. Losing 10 pounds in 90 days is.
- Don’t wait till New Year’s Eve to make resolutions. Make it a year long process, every day;
- Take small steps. Many people quit because the goal is too big requiring too much effort and action all at once;
- Celebrate your success between milestones. Don’t wait the goal to be finally completed;
- Focus your thinking on new behaviors and thought patterns. You have to create new neural pathways in your brain to change habits;
- Focus on the present. What’s the one thing you can do today, right now, towards your goal?
- Be mindful. Become physically, emotionally and mentally aware of your inner state as each external event happens, moment-by-moment, rather than living in the past or future.
- And finally, don’t take yourself so seriously. Have fun and laugh at yourself when you slip, but don’t let the slip hold you back from working at your goal.