No Resolutions for Me Please

After January 1st, I am going to start ______________. It is that time of year again when we start thinking of and creating those proverbial New Year resolutions. To be honest I stopped making those many years ago. A 2007 study involving 3,000 people showed that 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail, despite the fact that 52% of the study’s participants were confident of success at the beginning. Men achieved their goal 22% more often when they engaged in goal setting (a system where small measurable goals are being set; such as, a pound a week, instead of saying “lose weight”), while women succeeded 10% more when they made their goals public and got support from their friends.
A New Year resolution is where a person makes a promise to do an act of self-improvement or make a change in how they act; like being a nicer person or helping others more. Usually we hear these two the most each year: losing weight by dieting and exercise. Funny how these two resolutions pop up a lot during the year but never get started. How many times have you heard someone say they will start their diet right after Thanksgiving, right after Christmas, or after the first of the year? But first, let me eat all I can before I start! To prove my point, in the middle of writing this article, my wife I went to a local burger joint for lunch. We saw a friend there and wished her a happy New Year. Her response was she was going to blow it all now at the burger joint but after the 1st she starts here diet.
I made a huge mistake one Christmas because of a resolution my wife made. She made the comment one day that after the first of the year, she wanted to get fit and exercise more. It sounded like a great New Year resolution the only problem we had no money for a gym membership and had no home equipment. So, I got our three kids to rally around me and they helped me purchase home exercise equipment for my wife for Christmas. I was really proud of all that I bought and was sure she would be excited. On Christmas morning as she unwrapped it all, I discovered that was NOT a good gift for a woman. Go figure! She was upset that it indicated she was overweight and needed to lose weight. Needless to say the gifts did not go over so good and she has not let me live it down. It was HER resolution!
I don’t mean to give you a history lesson of New Year’s Eve and resolutions since anyone can simply Google it. But, the following exerts from Wikipedia on the subject is interesting to me.
The ancient Babylonians 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 watch night services, many Christians prepare for the year ahead by praying and making these resolutions.
Personally I would love to see the “watch night services” brought back and used more today. It seems we have lost that tradition. I believe that year-end is a great time to reflect back but more importantly a time to look forward to the New Year and what you will do differently.
There are other religious parallels to this tradition. 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 may act similarly during the Catholic fasting period of Lent, though the motive behind this holiday is more of sacrifice than of responsibility, in fact the practice of New Year’s
Resolutions partially came from the Lenten sacrifices. The concept, regardless of creed, is to reflect upon self-improvement annually.
I am a goals person and although New Year resolutions are fun to think up and state; the research showed us that 88% fail in keeping them. So why make them? Setting goals is easy and the success rate will be much higher. First you start with a simple statement similar to a resolution. Let’s use the popular exercise topic; my New Year resolution is to lose weight. If you stopped there you would more than likely fall in that 88% mentioned above. However, by adding a description and time frame to that statement it becomes a goal. I would like to lose 20 pounds in 2015. Now you have something measurable and a time limit. After setting a goal you can add your strategy that will further enhance your chances of it actually happening. I will lose 1 pound a week for 20 weeks by changing my diet and adding exercise.
If you are going to stick with resolution and don’t really get the whole goal idea, then here is what I would recommend. As I get older, I find myself waking up and thanking God for another new day. God is timeless but our finite mind can only understand time in small units. We operate on seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, and decades. No resolutions for me please on New Year’s Eve, I challenge us all to make resolve daily. Today I am going to help others more. Today I am going to make another person smile. Today I am going to praise God for my blessings. Today I am going to read God’s word.
I found this on the internet and love what it says. This resolve has action in it and is worked every day, not just once a year. Take the challenge to make resolutions every day!
A RESOLVE for every morning of the New Year…
I will this day try to live a simple, sincere, and serene life repelling promptly every thought of discontent, anxiety, discouragement, impurity, self-seeking, cultivating cheerfulness, magnanimity, charity, and the habit of holy silence, exercising economy in expenditure, carefulness in conversation, diligence in appointed service, fidelity to every trust and a child-like faith in God.
From a calendar by Bishop John H. Vincent