Whenever I hear the word resolution I think of a new year. I imagine you do as well. It is something we grew up with. It was common to have any number of people ask what you would resolve to do in the new year. I suppose it makes sense as we have flipped 12 pages of the calendar. What better time to promise yourself something than in a new year?
The Babylonians did it as far back as 2000 B.C. They had a new year festival where they pledged to be loyal to their kingdom and promised to appease their gods. The Romans did it too, every January. Did you know January is named after the Roman god Janus, a two-faced god they believed could view the past and future simultaneously.
Each new year brings us the hope of renewal and betterment. What could I do in this new year to improve upon the last? As a kid I stated my resolutions out loud. It was usually something like do better in Math or keep my room clean so I won’t get yelled at. Those resolutions didn’t work out so well. I maintained my average status in Math and my room stayed pretty messy until I moved out on my own. As an adult the resolutions moved to get more exercise and lose weight. By the way, lose weight is the number one resolution made every year by millions of people. Why is it so hard to keep these resolutions?
According to the Journal of Psychology, about 50% of the population makes resolutions each new year. The top three resolutions include exercise more, lose weight and stop spending money you don’t have. Did you ever notice the run on gym membership adverstising December through February?
The 50% making promises to themselves have a high failure rate. Why? Are our aspirations set too high? Are our behaviors so patterned in us that we don’t know how to or cannot change them?
Making a resolution work requires more than an affirmative statement. It requires behavior modification and focus. This is something not every human can do on their own, sucessfully. Did you know you actually have to create new neural pathways in your brain in order to change your behavior patterns? I made resolutions kind of willy-nilly and did not pay close attention to the behaviors I would have to change in order to succeed. I knew nothing about neural pathways.
Maybe if I had a math tutor and committed to an extra couple of hours of study each week I could have been above average in math! Not sure what would have helped in keeping my room cleaner other than paying my little sister fifty cents to clean it for me. Losing weight was sometimes a bit of a success but not consistently. I continued to ignore the behavior changes that would be necessary to get real with my situation.
Maybe the word resolution is too big and scary. Should we do away with it and try something kinder and gentler? How about using intention or plan instead? Help me out here.
I have some intentions and plans in this new year but they don’t have an end date. I will not fall into the trap of giving myself a specific timeline to complete or measure my successes or failures. All intentions and plans will be based on lifetime goals and changes. I will ask for help if I need it and begin each day with a quiet meditation reminding me to be focused in the present, not yesterday or tomorrow. That is how I started today. It’s not feeling like a resolution but rather a path. I suppose sometimes I will go slowly and sometimes I will run and maybe even stop for a bit, but I don’t plan any reverse action. I am reading about how to rewire my brain so that my neural pathways are connected properly and will let you know what that’s all about!
I hope whatever resolutions, intentions or plans you have made in this new year come to you in good time. Be kind to yourself. It took a while to create you and your behaviors. It may take a while to adjust the things you want to change too. Ask for help if you need it. If you have been successful in creating new neural pathways to change your behaviors I would love to hear from you!
I am excited about 2017. I hope you are too and wish you a wonderful year filled with good health, new experiences, love and lots of laughter.
Have a great day!