New Year is here and with it a promise of new, fresh start, a chance to do things better, to be better.
Even though we can decide to improve our life and our habits in any given moment throughout the year, many of us choose to do so on the first of January. The beginning of New Year gives an illusion of pressing some symbolic reset button and starting again with a clean slate. There’s always hope in the beginning, hope that we are leaving everything bad in the old year and that we are taking a step towards brighter tomorrow.
However in reality, for many of us, the brighter tomorrow usually ends at the end of January. That is when we start to realize that it is not so easy to change our behavior(s) overnight and to suddenly be a new, transformed person who goes to the gym three times a week, eats only healthy food, is financially responsible, is not procrastinating and doesn’t waste time on idle activities but works hard towards achieving that one big life goal we all have…just to name some of the most common New Year’s resolutions or goals. We slip once, twice and then suddenly all our good resolutions go out of the window. Yet we do it again the next year.
Why do we make New Year’s resolutions?
Why is the habit of setting New Year’s resolutions or goals so firmly ingrained in (especially) Western culture? Maybe it’s because it is actually almost 4000 years old and its origins can be traced to old Babylonians who reportedly tried to ‘bribe’ their Gods with promises in order to earn favors from them in the year to come. The Romans later cemented this custom when, in 46 BC, the beginning of the year was moved from 1st of March to 1st of January (I bet you didn’t know that :-)). In Roman mythology, January is named after Janus, master of beginnings and doors, a two faced god who looks simultaneously backwards and forwards, to the past and to the future. Since Romans believed that beginnings are ominous they tent to behave especially good on the first of January (too bad that the historic sources does not include any record on how long the ancient Romans actually stuck to the good behaviors).
How to do it right
Fast forward two thousand years and here we are Today setting goals and New Year’s resolutions. If you decide to join about 40-50% of people and set some goals or resolutions, be it on the New Year or any other day, here are some tips that I gathered that could be helpful to stick to:
1. You do not have to make millions of resolutions/goals. Pick just one or two that would influence your life the most. Eat healthier, move more, laugh more, read more….you know best what will have the greatest impact.
2. Also, choose something that really matters to you and not something that you think you should do because somebody else is doing it or it sounds cool. If you don’t really want it the chances are that you will not muster enough motivation to stick to them when temptation comes…and you know it will come.
3. Take note of why you are making it. What is the reason you want to lose weight? Do you want to feel better? Do you want to have more energy for playing with your kids? Do you want to feel more attractive? Do you want to find a new partner? When times get though, remember your why.
4. Keep your resolutions/goals it in the forefront of your mind. Out of sight out of mind, they say. Remind yourself daily of your goal – post it on the mirror, make it a screen saver, write it in your diary. Daily reminder will increase your chances of success.
5. Incorporate it into your daily life. Make it a part of your schedule.
6. Review & track progress. Reflect each day or periodically on how you are doing. You will see the progress you are making (or not making) and in case of failure you can focus on trying to do it better right the next day. Also, one of the most successful methods for sticking to a good habit is to repeat the behavior for about 21 days. And you cannot tell if how long it has been if you are not tracking it.
7. Take it step by step. Believe in the power of cumulative effort. Small steps taken every day will bring big results in long run.
8. And last but not least, do not put too much pressure on you to have it perfect just because it’s New Year. Remember, any day is a great day for new beginning.
Happy New Year!
P.S. If you want to get inspered and see what my goals and resolutions for 2017 are read my next post here.
Words by: Barbora Bardonova
Featured image by: Will van Wingerden/Unsplash