A fresh start, a new beginning, grapes, red underwear – it’s easy to be overcome with exhilaration and excitement when we are about to enter a new year. In a way, writing down our goals and intentions in synchrony makes us feel more united and less alone in the ebbs and flows of life. Whether we want to start getting up earlier, showering more often, or eating healthier (totally not self-projecting) – jotting down visions we want to see come to life is powerful, or at least it feels that way.
The tradition of making New Year’s resolutions started about 4,000 years ago and practices were deep-rooted in religion.
The Babylonians celebrated in March with a religious multi-day festival; Egyptians anticipated a heliacal rising that preceded the flood of the Nile River; in ancient Rome, a two-faced God named Janus ruled the new year. Fun fact: the name January was influenced by Janus since the god symbolizes looking back at the past but also forward to the future.
Many of these ancient traditions had a common theme: simply becoming a better person. If you have a chance to read about ancient New Year’s celebrations, I strongly recommend it, it’s truly fascinating.
Fast forward to present day, many individuals make resolutions and promises to themselves, which is pretty empowering. But, if you were to look back on previous years, how many times have you actually followed through with a resolution you made on January 1st? Did you actually stick to it even after 30 days?
That’s where I have a dilemma with making New Year’s resolutions -we tend to set ourselves up for failure because we surrender to time (which we don’t have a lot of in the grand scheme of things).
One of my mentors spoke to me this morning and said, “just make sure you don’t get lost in the idea of setting goals in 2020, actually take steps to accomplish them.” I agree there’s a lot of hype around the new year and it’s exciting with all the sparks and midnight kisses, but people are going to wake up the next day and still be who they are – there’s no magic wand that transforms your life once the clock strikes 12:00 am.
I’m a sucker for the “magic of the holidays,” but as I get older, I have come to realize that I love partaking in the festivities leading up to the holidays, not necessarily the days themselves. It sounds cynical, I know, but I like to enjoy the buzz surrounding the New Year while also recognizing what’s behind the smoke and mirrors. Gym memberships (evil and ingenious idea, by the way) are about to skyrocket only to be left unused after a month, old habits will start knocking on our doors, our home-cooked meals will turn into frozen microwaved food, we will get midway through a book only to leave it collecting dust…
In the midst of all these pessimistic examples I just gave, there is some good news – you have complete control of whether or not you allow yourself to fall back into old habits. Only 8% of people stay committed to their resolutions and accomplish them – let’s increase that inauspicious statistic!
If I could offer one piece of advice for this upcoming decade, it’d be to start today. Don’t put things off with the idea that you have all the time in the world because…well, you don’t. In the blink of an eye you will be old and bitter, sitting on your couch eating McDonald’s and watching pointless reality TV, or you will be old and content, looking back at all your sacrifices and achievements but doing so proudly as you’re surrounded by people you love. That’s a bit exaggerated and vague, but you get the idea.
I don’t have any New Year’s resolutions for 2020, but I do have goals I’ve been consistently working on, and I started yesterday (metaphorically speaking). I’m not putting pressure on myself to make super drastic changes. I’m ok with slow growth. Nonetheless, my hope this year, and for the new decade, is to become a better version of myself. And that is what I wish for you, too – that you become a better version of yourself and that you experience health, growth, and success whether you decide to make New Year’s resolutions or not.
2020: you remain an untitled piece of art, but I’m so excited to see what you have in store!
Featured photo by Jude Beck.