It’s that time of year again, the end of the old and the start of a new. It’s the time to try and re-invent yourself, or finally kick that bad habit you’ve been talking about for the last 12 months. Yes - the infamous New Year’s resolution.
The first recorded New Year’s resolution dates back to Ancient Babylon. The Babylonians are said to have started the tradition during the Akitua 12-day New Year celebration. During this festival, the Ancient Babylonians would plant crops, crown a new king, and make promises to the gods to pay their debts and return borrowed items. They believed that if they kept their word, the gods would take care of them during the new year and, if promises were broken, they would be punished.
The act of promising to gods continued in to Ancient Rome, through the Middle Ages, and to today. The only major difference is that today the promises made are often kept to ourselves and not made to any gods.
While we all love the idea of wiping the slate clean and starting fresh on January 1st, unfortunately 80% of us will have broken our promises by the first week of February. Now, why is that? And why do we assume that we aren’t allowed to start again until the next year?
We are essentially trying to form a new habit, and that can be impossible to do when the goals we set are unrealistic or unachievable.
A habit is defined as a way of behaving that is repeated so often it no longer involves conscious thought. A study published by the European Journal of Social Psychology found that it takes anywhere between 18-243 days to form a habit, and it also concluded that it takes 66 days for a new behaviour to become automatic...not 21 days, like we have been so often told.
Our brains like habits: they are effective and require little conscious effort. They are an efficient function, as they free up mental resources that can then be used for other tasks.
But it’s not impossible to be a part of the group that succeeds; the ones who, on December 31st, can proudly say they accomplished everything they set out to do in the last 12 months.
It is important to make your resolution attainable, and it helps to break it down into smaller steps that you can accomplish systematically throughout the year. One trusted method is to tell someone you admire about your resolution - sharing your goals and aspirations with someone you respect is a proven way to keep yourself accountable and motivated to stick with it!
Some of the most popular resolutions made each year:
• • • • • • • • •
- Eat healthier
- Exercise more
- Lose weight
- Save more money & pay off debt Learn a new skill / hobby
- Travel more Watch less TV Read more Find a new job
- Start your own business
- Quit smoking
- Drink less
- Spend more time with family and friends
Now, with all this talk about resolutions, you must be wondering...what are mine?
This year I’ve decided to take my own advice and increase my chances of following through by keeping it simple. My goal is to continue to focus on mindfulness and to express gratitude to those around me. But also, just for fun, this Momma is going to up her flexibility game, and set out to be able to do the splits before (or by) the end of 2021!
Now that I’ve shared my resolution with you all, don’t be scared to hold me accountable. And I will be checking back in with you all at this same time next year.
Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365-page book. Now go and write a good one!