Keeping Your New Year’s Resolution
Sure you make a resolution each year, but do you know why? The traditional New Year’s resolution originated in Mesopotamia. Babylonians would make promises to gods in the coming New Year to pay debts and be good, hoping to keep favor with their deities.
Jump ahead to now where our children try their best to behave so they can make Santa’s good-kid list and adults set resolutions based on where they would like to see change in their lives. Often in January, health club memberships spike while people hit the ground running. Taking a step back, the basic idea behind the ancient New Year’s resolution is improvement. Finding ways to motivate ourselves and our children to become better and healthier has always brought many ideas, but the hard part is sticking to them. We evaluate what is most important to us and set a goal to achieve it.
While New Year’s resolutions are a positive movement, they often consist of self-improvement instigated out of self-ridicule or unhappiness stemming from being unsatisfied within ourselves. Whether it’s our weight, an unhealthy habit, financial insecurity, or our own demeanor, there is a desire for transformation and change. Coming up with New Year’s resolution goals is usually the easy part, but a resolution isn’t meant to be a sample you get passing in the aisles of a grocery store. You need to commit to the change. For many of us, keeping a resolution can be challenging. Creating your 2019 goals is like filling New Year’s party balloons with helium. They look perfect, shiny and exciting, but making sure your goal doesn’t deflate and wind up on the floor in the corner of a room to eventually get stepped on is the real commitment.
What happens to our resolutions? Do we lose our lists? Is it like Jenga, with one block or obstacle making the whole plan fall apart? Here are some tips that will help keep you on the resolution road to a happier and healthier you:
Reality—Live in it
Goal setting can be like a shopping spree on a new credit card. You have to be careful so you don’t start off already in the hole. When you are setting goals, you should create a plan. One of the best ways to do this is to write out your goal and use a calendar. Pick up a cheap planner and journal and start tracking. It’s easy to say your plan is to go from overweight to professional athlete, but with work, children, and other life obligations, are you expecting too much? You may not become a millionaire over the next six months but you can save more money to make your financial situation more appealing. Use your calendar to make achievable checkpoints and use your journal to write down your plan to accomplish this. Having a plan and starting small is the best way to build yourself up to bigger goals. If you’ve ever played Nintendo, it’s like Super Mario Bros. You play an easy level, get to a checkpoint and then keep advancing. Level by level you keep overcoming more obstacles, but at the same time, you are honing your skills and sharpening your sword for what lies ahead. Stick to a realistic plan.
Understand Your Goal
Remember that this is your goal and nobody else’s. This goal is for you and you have to figure out what it means for yourself. What is this New Year’s resolution? How far are you going to take it and where does the road end ... or does it? The most important thing is you have to understand what you are trying to do with this resolution. If you want to lose weight or quit smoking, are you going to get to a point where you think you have completed the resolution? If you don’t smoke for 6-8 months, at the end of that run, are you going to go buy a pack and fire up a couple heaters? That would be immensely counter-productive. Instead, are you going to submit this change to your permanent lifestyle? Are you going to lose weight and then treat yourself to a week bender of donut holes and deep-fried cheese curds? Understanding the path of your New Year’s resolution is knowing where you are going with it. Maybe you didn’t think you would have to go that far or maybe you aren’t ready to. It’s all about knowing your long-term goals and the personal choices you have to make in order to stay on track.
We all have those friends who do well lounging in a whirlpool of complacency. Some of those friends have been our best friends for a majority of our life, while some are new. Having multiple friends with different passions and ideologies is a positive aspect because it adds variety to your social circle and variety is healthy. Yet for your own benefit and your own personal New Year’s resolutions, you need to surround yourself with positive influencers. Being in the company of people who don’t have the same goals can weigh you down and even be counterproductive to your goals. You don’t have to ditch your friends but you need to make yourself aware if you find that you have been lounging in the quicksand with them. Joining a rec league, a bookclub, a run club or venturing out beyond the yard is what will bring you positive influence. Going to the gym is motivating because other people who are striving to achieve similar goals surround you. You can literally feel the energy and motivation of the atmosphere and it pushes you along in your process towards your resolution. A gym inside your home might be nice because you get to workout by yourself. However, there is always the chance you may not push yourself the same as you might in a gym with others. It’s easier to keep reaching for your goal passionately when other people are doing the same around you. It’s a hypermotivator.
Tracking is one of the best ways to stick to your New Year’s resolutions. Tracking your progress might be discouraging at first since we all want to see immediate results. However, you have to let things play out and reach the small steps first. It will be challenging, but eventually the threshold point will be reached. And when you start to see results by tracking your progress, it will be easier and more enjoyable to keep going. A good way to track is to get creative. Keep a log of how many hours you’ve spent working on your New Year’s resolution. Keep notes on the items you have saved money on or create a fun colorful chart that allows you to track improvement, money saved, weight loss progress or even ‘X’s on days you haven’t smoked. Obviously, some goals may be more elaborate, such as kale diets, only consuming fruits on weekdays, or polishing your chrome wheels every other Saturday. The point is you can be creative with how you track yourself to keep it interesting and maintain motivation.
You can build a LEGO castle or a model building of some sort. Think if you were to add pieces every time you lost a pound. By the time you reach your goal, you will have constructed a castle showing the might, power, and fortitude that you have sweat on this journey. This will only motivate you further to stick to your resolutions.
Human Electricity—Rewire Yourself
New Year’s resolutions are about being happy within yourself. It’s finding that internal kinetic energy you possess and enabling it to power yourself like a light bulb and glow. Life gets crazy and sporadic events challenge our everyday structure.
Maintaining a routine is a healthy railway for your train to take to the next destination without going backwards. This is, in essence, a transformation. If you really want your resolution to come to fruition, you have to rewire yourself one circuit at a time. It’s possible to change your lifestyle, patterns, and behavior. Even if your New Year’s resolution is a financial goal to save up money to go on a trip to a faraway corner of the world, that trip will end up giving you experiences that will further push you forward and change your overall perspective as a human being.
Rearrange your furniture at home, get rid of old clothes you don’t wear anymore or the ones you do that have holes in them. Dump the clutter. And if you want to stick to maintaining a strong resolution, you have to take steps to keep yourself in forward motion. It can be easy to slip into pitfalls. But if you follow through with the small steps and see positive changes, you’re going to enjoy the process so much that sticking to your New Year’s resolutions will be easy and exciting.
Good luck in 2019!
Jon Hauer is a freelance writer and digital designer originally from Minnesota now based in Del Rey, CA. He received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication Studies from the University of St. Thomas and graduated from Pepperdine University in 2015 with a Master’s of Fine Arts Degree in Writing. He has worked in the tourism/hospitality industry for years and writes professionally on a number of topics including travel, business, marketing, tourism, home services, art, sports, entertainment, news, etc.