Another New Year celebration has come and gone. Champagne corks have been popped, horns have been blown, and hugs, kisses and good wishes exchanged. A myriad of folks have declared that 2017 will be their best year yet and have made resolutions to demonstrate that intention.
But after all the partying and merry-making has faded away, most of those resolutions will have, unfortunately, fallen by the wayside within a few weeks, never to be fulfilled. So why is it that we are so terrible at keeping promises to ourselves? Is it because it’s easier to disappoint ourselves rather than others? Maybe it’s because we see no significant consequences to breaking a resolution.
Or perhaps it’s because we tend to overgeneralize our intentions and state them in very vague terms. For instance, instead of pledging to get fit, it might be far simpler and more effective to just plan on using the stairs at work instead of the elevator. Instead of generalizing that we will eat better, it might be more useful to rid our diets of soda pop or ice-cream. Saying “I love you” more often to our partners, children and family, might be far more rewarding that promising to treat people better. Focussing on specific actions seems to yield better results.
The Babylonians might have had the right idea when 4000 years ago they began the new year with an 11-day festival (Wow! That’s even longer than a traditional Ukrainian wedding!). But once the merriment was done, they would promise their gods to pay off any debts. (No doubt economists would suggest that more Canadians adopt this focused example.)
When the Romans determined that January 1st would be the new year (after a calendar change), they asked for forgiveness and promised better conduct in the future. Although this sounds rather vague, their belief in the god Janus, a deity with two faces who stood in doorways and arches to symbolically represent looking back to the past and looking ahead to the future, might have prompted them to actually keep their resolution.
Knights in medieval times reaffirmed their devotion to chivalry without actually making any new commitments, and early Christians also focussed on past mistakes and promised to do better. It seems that people throughout the ages have used the new year as an opportunity for self-examination, fresh beginnings and good intentions.
Personally, I have never made resolutions, but have used the occasion as a time to reflect on the past year and take stock of where I am and where I might be heading. But this year is different. This year I have made, what I like to refer to as a commitment. (To be honest, I think this is just a matter of semantics, but I dislike the term resolution.). I didn’t wait for the beginning of a new year to initiate this goal. It was put into the works in early August, so I am now in the midst of this undertaking. My goal is to complete the biggest writing project that I have ever attempted, and, truthfully, I am at once filled with anxious trepidation and eager anticipation when I consider the scope and size of the project.
A lack of planning and analysis can be the foretellers of failure. Therefore, upon careful examination, I have determined that over the course of the next 4-5 months, I will need to write 1000-2000 words per day (on the average). And did I mention that these might not be publication-ready, but I must dedicate myself to keep at the task of writing. This is necessary if I want to be successful.
Why do I tell you this? Well, partly because a public declaration of intent usually makes one strive harder to fulfill a resolution, but more so because I will have to make this project my priority. That is why you will see fewer blog posts from me over the next few months. I will try to keep up, but I know I won’t be able to do it all.
I hope you will cheer me on. Watch for updates on my project!
Happy New Year, everyone!