Every year thousands of people create “New Years Resolutions.” My family tradition was to write them down, put them in a sealed envelope behind a picture over the mantle. We’d look at the previous year’s resolutions and have a laugh over what we did and didn’t do. Why do we do it?
History of New Year’s Resolutions
Though New Year’s isn’t the only time to make a resolution and to seek change, it’s probably the most popular. So we’ll start here and explore the history of this concept and how it came to be. Civilizations as far back as the Babylonians 4000 years ago have rung in the New Year by paying specific attention to the idea of fresh starts. The annual calendar of the Babylonians began in March, and they would traditionally celebrate with a festival lasting 11 days. During this time, they would offer the gods promises such as resolving to clear up their debts in order to gain the deities’ favor. Ancient Egyptians’ year was marked to coincide with the annual flooding of the Nile. The Roman emperor, Julius Caesar, was the first to recognize the beginning of the year as January 1st in honor of, Janus, the god of new beginnings. The heralding in of the New Year as the first of January didn’t remain in fashion until 1582, however, when Pope Gregory XIII developed the Gregorian calendar.
Reasons We Make Resolutions
There are a number of reasons why we make resolutions. As people, especially as leaders, it’s natural to want to progress in our personal development and to improve upon our lives. Making a resolution provides clarity to our lives. It’s like giving us a road map to follow with regard to achieving our goals. Making a resolution also solidifies our sense of purpose. It allows us to make our reasons for existing more tangible and concrete. Making promises to ourselves keeps us accountable, as well. Without this action, we stray from our intended purpose. This can lead to feelings such as loss of self-esteem, worthlessness, emotional turmoil and confusion. Finally, it simply makes us feel good, with a sense of accomplishment, to achieve the goals we set through resolutions. We’re able to measure our progress, and that’s quite satisfying.
Strategies for Making Resolutions
While we’re delve into ways to make your resolutions stick and other tips for making them, I’d like to at least touch on some general strategies for developing realistic intentions. First, choose just a few things from your wish list to accomplish so that you don’t become overwhelmed and quit before you even really get started. Next, be specific with your intentions. Making a vague statement like, “I will lose weight,” isn’t very effective. Stating the number of pounds you hope to lose in a particular time frame is a far better approach. One final tip is to remain accountable for the promises you make to yourself. You can share your goals with friends or even record your progress in a journal. These steps will help to ensure you are moving forward.
Now you have an idea of why we set resolutions. It’s important to understand the reason behind doing something if you want to improve your chances of success. Let’s move on to explore the importance of setting goals.
A goal is your target. It’s a desired outcome that you hope to attain. Goals have a definite and precise end point. You’ll know when you’ve achieved your goal. You can place a timeframe on them. There are both short-term and long-term goals you set for yourself. Goals can also fall into various categories among the different aspects of your life. For example, you can set career, relationship or personal goals.
When it comes to resolutions, the term can be used in a number of ways across varying contexts. For our purposes, we’ll be looking at personal resolutions that have to do with the trajectory we’d like to take with our lives. A resolution is a promise to yourself, and it’s something that’s usually more open-ended than a specific goal. Making a resolution usually entails altering some aspect of your life, such as eating healthier, focusing on loved ones more or managing your finances better.
How They’re Related
These two terms actually go hand-in-hand. That’s why they’re so often referenced together. Your resolutions are made up of goals. The resolution is the overarching theme or the implied direction you wish to take with your life. The goals are the activities that fall within the theme or the specific steps to take you to that place. If you resolve to lose weight or eat healthier, which is probably the most common New Year’s Resolution, you need to set goals for how you will accomplish such a wish. Without goals, resolutions often go unmet. You’ve likely experienced setting a resolution, only to have it fall flat and be left behind within a month or two. That’s natural and lies within the realm of normal human behavior. We attend to what’s immediately in front of us. Setting goals and checking in with them on a regular basis keeps them at the forefront of your mind, making those resolutions more likely to become a reality.
Essentially, a resolution is something you will constantly be working toward, while a goal is specific and finite. Resolutions are made up of goals. They are relevant and intertwined. Those who choose to join me in a 30 day challenge will be focusing on both as we proceed along our challenge.