The ancient Babylonians are said to have been the first people to make New Year’s resolutions, though for them new year began when they planted their crops in March, rather than in January.
Fast forward some 4000 years and two fictional diarists included New Year’s resolutions in their diaries. Bridget Jones undertook to “go to gym three times a week not merely to buy a sandwich” and Adrian Mole promised he would “Hang up my trousers”.
Some top New Year’s resolutions include sorting out finances and being more eco-friendly. Others might feel that another favourite – spending more time with loved ones – can be well and truly ticked off the list once the festivities are over and we have spent more than sufficient time with our loved ones.
Why are New Year’s resolutions so difficult to keep? I believe the problem is that January really is the bleakest of months. The magic of the Christmas season is over and the only thing to look forward to is a credit card statement and a snow day. The days are short and Spring seems such a long way off.
What better way to cheer ourselves up than something hearty to eat – pie perhaps, with chips – washed down with a glass of something?
If it’s dark at 4 pm, why would anyone wish to go out for a jog? That would be downright dangerous. Especially when you could snuggle into your new Christmas loungers and lay prostrate in front of the TV instead. Oh, and in the cupboard there might just be a bit of leftover Christmas chocolate or a mince pie. Well, it would be a shame to waste them. The credit card statement will wait, along with all other bills, which are nothing more than harbingers of doom.
The difficulty might be that the resolutions we make are often vague, frequently unrealistic and not always measurable. What does ‘exercise more’ really mean and how much weight needs to be lost for us to strike that old favourite off the list?
Perhaps we need to make our goals ‘SMART’: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. That way we might give ourselves a winning chance and the satisfaction of achieving.
Have you ever thought how much easier it is to do something for someone else than it is for yourself? Altruism has been found to make us happier and healthier, plus there is the benefit of doing something good for others. So perhaps by turning the spotlight away from ourselves and instead shining the light on others who may benefit from our resolutions, we stand a better chance of succeeding. If eating more veg means more energy to kick a football with the children that’s surely a win/win?
And if everyone in my household could please hang up their trousers in 2023, I believe I too would be a lot happier.
Happy New Year everyone!