Well, it’s that time of year again. Millions of us around the world are winding down the year, thinking about what we did and did not accomplish this past year, what we want to accomplish for the next year, and what changes we want to make to ourselves. Out comes the paper and pencil and our list of resolutions begin.
If you ever wondered how it all started, be sure to check out last year’s post, How Did New Year’s Resolutions Start.
What are New Year’s Resolutions?
According to Wonderopolis.org, a “New Year’s resolution is a promise a person makes for the new year. Regardless of what resolution you commit to, the goal is to improve life in the coming year.”
It is a short idea on how to improve your life, whether it be changes to your physicality, mentality, or what’s around you. We make them to make us better, at least that seems to be the intention.
There is a myth that states the idea of resolutions dates back to ancient Rome. Janus, Zeus, was the chief god and was known for having two faces, one that looks forward and the other backward. This idea became a symbol to enact on December 31st, a chance to look back at the past year and forgive those that had wronged us and make plans for how to do better in the coming year. These promises would be made in the name of Janus in hopes that he would forgive the wrong doings of the previous year and bless them in the coming year.
How have resolutions changed?
History shows us that, for most cultures, the act of resolutions held some sort of religious/spiritual significance. Most were made in honor of a specific deity. However, there is no one specific point in history that shows where the religious beginnings of “resolutions” changed to become secular or more focused on a person’s growth. What we do know is that most historical cultures practiced this form of growth to coincide with when their first crops started to grow, as this was often the indicator of a new year.
In 1740, John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, invented a new type of church service called Covenant Renewal Services. These services happened in the time between Christmas and New Years and were meant as an alternative to the partying that normally took place during this time. The Methodist church still offers these types of service but normally falls on Christmas Eve.
Between 1740 and today, the reason for resolutions evolved into a means for self improvement. Weight Loss tops the list of the most made resolutions each year. For every resolution made there are just as many that do not last. Reports show that some 80% of all resolutions made fail each year. Oddly enough, the United States Government hosts a website to track the most common resolutions types and offers tips to help you stay on track, you can check that out here.
Top Ten Resolutions of 2021
Before moving on to the new year and what we hope to achieve, we should pause a minute and look at some of the top resolutions that were made on this day in 2020 for 2021. Below you will find four common resolutions and five new ones to try.
1. Improving health
This is probably the biggest resolution made each year and seems to be the hardest to maintain. From 2020 to the end of this year, we have been reminded of how important our health is to us. A more healthy lifestyle should be a top consideration for our lives and why not for our resolutions. The reason for its failure often relates to the mindset we take when it comes to making those changes. We look for the quick fix diet or exercise program that will give us the quick fix. What we need to realize is that for this resolution is that it takes a change of lifestyle more than a quick fix.
2. Improving finances
A resolution that seems equally hard to maintain is to grow our finances. Let’s face it, there are a million things we have to pay for on a daily basis. Whether they are quality of life expenditures or the necessary bills that come with our daily lives, we invariably have to spend money. There are as many articles on how to better manage your finances as there are resolutions to do so. The one thing that is certain is that we all, probably, need better means of learning to manage our finances. One thing to keep in mind is that this resolutions can be directly related to improving health or other resolutions in this list. If you are looking for a good app to help you work on your finances for the coming year’s resolution, why not check out Mint and see why it is the #1 most downloaded personal finance app of 2021.
3. Improving relationships
We all have to have money and health in our daily lives, but we also have people around us. How we interact with them should always be a constant form of progress. Our emotional and physical needs change almost daily, so do those of the people we interact with. Covid has also taught us the importance of having people close to us on a daily basis. As we have had to isolate ourselves over the past two years, we quickly came to realize how social interactions helped us get through our daily grinds with less issues. Why not take a look at how we interface with our loved ones and those we happen upon and see if we can improve those relationships. This also gives us the ability to set boundaries for ourselves and what we expect from others, so that they give us the best possible interactions, as well.
4. Planning an adventure
Sometimes all we need to make a resolution for is to get outside of our comfort zone and try someplace new. Tie this in to improving health and finances and the sky’s the limit for places you can visit. Most of us see the same four walls every day and rarely go beyond the limits of our hometown. Think about places you have always wanted to go and start planning. It could be as simple as going to the opposite side of your country or as extravagant as going to a new country and experiencing all it has to offer. While you are planning this adventure, skip most of the more touristy areas and go for an immersion vacation. This allows you to eat at restaurants that local frequent, see sights that are more in line with day to day living, and be a part of that culture. Going to touristy areas can be a safe alternative but be mindful that they are built around giving you an experience that you are already comfortable with and only mildly adding what the culture is really like.
Here are five simple and not so typical resolutions to try for the New Year.
1. Cook one new dish each week
We already know that trying to have better health is one of the top resolutions we have each year, so why not add a resolution to help you achieve it. Cooking one new thing each week can help you keep the spark of achieving better health or less weight, in your sights. Think outside of the box, use spices that you may not typically use. You could always make a dish that has things like cardamom or turmeric instead of the normal rosemary or thyme. Try a different protein – instead of using chicken or beef, why not try a dish with fish or tofu. Both will give you similar amounts of healthy proteins and nutrients and expand your palate at the same time. It will also allow you to explore healthy recipes and find ones you will love adding to your routines.
2. Consider talking to a therapist
Gone are the days where the only people who saw or needed a therapist were considered to be ill. Our world is progressing at a faster pace almost daily and the amount of trauma we are exposed to seems to grow as fast. From Covid to an increase in violence and hatred, we often need someone to vent to and get it out of our heads. As we become more technology focused we lose personal interactions that often help us destress, having a licensed profession to talk to can guide us through releasing and healing from that trauma.
3. Read more
Okay, we already know that we spend most of our time staring at some form of a screen daily. Whether it’s our phones, work computers, television, or the various other mobile devices, we have seemed to shied away from literature. Literature provides our minds an escape or a type of reset. We get away from the day to day stressors for a brief time and live in a world that is vastly different from our own. Sure, we all can say that our lives are too busy to just sit down with a book and flip through it’s pages to disconnect but that isn’t the only way to read more. If your resolution was to exercise more, why not use an app like Audible and listen to a book you have been wanting to read while you are riding an exercise bike. This will allow your mind to engage in something creative and not go down the social media rabbit hole that we often limit ourselves to.
4. Donate old clothes
We all probably have clothes in our closets and dressers that we should donate. How do you decide what you no longer want to keep and what we do? Start looking at what is hanging in your closet. If you see things you have not worn in at least six months, set them aside, if you have not come back to them in two months they need to go into a donation pile. Remember to launder and bag them up. A quick search online will give you the best places to donate them locally. Many of them will give you a receipt for tax purposes but it is usually up to you to itemize them.
5. Add more music to your life
It should come as no surprise that music can have a powerful sway over us. Hearing a tune can transport us back to the most happy or sad parts of our lives. It can remind us of memories long forgotten and can even help us improve our memory and lower the amount of pain we feel. Adding upbeat, happy music to our days can change our mindset and mood, making us more productive during the day. Playing relaxing music at bedtime can have the added benefit of helping us unwind and release tensions of the day and allowing for a more restful sleep.
Keeping it simple
When it comes to resolutions, many of us go for what can be deemed as life changing experiences. Many times, those large asks can lead to breaking our resolutions as quickly as we made them. This year why not make your top ten resolutions more simple. Changing a lifestyle takes one or two small steps and a lot of commitment. So think in smaller steps or quick action items. Things you can put into place to create change and are easy to focus on. With these minor steps, you can then see how they have far reaching results into the larger goals we want to have in our lives.
Above all others, just remember to be more kind to yourself. If you falter in keeping your resolutions, don’t beat yourself up over them. Take that as a lesson and a chance to refocus and get back on track. Life will always throw us an obstacle, it is up to us whether we let it be our failure, keep us down for along time, or pick ourselves back up and get going again.