What a lot of articles and blog posts about New Year’s Resolutions these days. How to have realistic resolutions. How to stick to your resolutions. Use a fortune cookie to frame your resolutions. Set goals instead of establishing resolutions (I think maybe I’m doing this without knowing it). Don’t make any, because … well, why bother. One option is to adopt the excellent suggestions in this cartoon from Incidental Comics, although personally I’d leave out the sunrises, worse dancing, and longer parties.
I’m not sure what there is about turning the page of a calendar ahead by a month (a very dark, cold month in the northern part of the northern hemisphere), but it turns out that New Year’s Resolutions are not a new concept, not by a long stretch. It seems that way back with the Babylonians 4000 years ago, making resolutions at the beginning of a new year was already an entrenched tradition. They made their promises to do better and be better to their gods instead of to themselves, but it was the same idea. And throughout the millennia, throughout many cultures, the tradition of conceiving of the start of a new calendar year as a time to reflect on what you could or should do better or differently has existed. Previous generations and cultures were more likely to promise results from these resolutions to their gods, to their church, or to God, and to back up their promise by giving offerings if they broke their resolutions. So we definitely take the easy way out these days. We just make our promises to ourselves and then don’t worry too much about accountability!
Renewal and reflection
The reality is that in many parts of the world, certainly the one I’m used to, it is actually the start of the new school year rather than the start of the New Year that signals new beginnings. Growing up, you enter a higher grade level at the beginning of each school year, full of excitement and the anticipation of new experiences. As an adult, all sorts of recreational and leisure activities start back up again at the same time, giving you a chance to sign up for a new workshop, start singing again, or maybe try out a new exercise class. “Life” resumes again with the putting to bed of summer.
December 31 is different. It is a time to reflect on the past year and determine what we want to do differently – or maybe do even more of. For many of us, reflecting too much on this past year would be an exercise in despair for the world, so I’m not planning to reflect on politics or the strange changing of the world order at all. In fact, one of my resolutions will be to pay less attention to the news, about which I can do precious little. It is clearly counterproductive to finding any path to happiness!
In reflecting on the past year in more personal terms, there were many highlights. Some of the biggies were being able to celebrate our 50 years of marriage with close family and friends, having an awesome March Break trip to Costa Rica with one of our sons and family, successfully completing a quilting project for each of our four grandchildren, finally recovering from having gone back to work for a year and feeling productively retired again, and spending more time blogging. Keeping the not-so-great 2017 list light (i.e. especially not counting illnesses and funerals of family and friends), my main disappointment was not being able to run much because of an ankle/foot issue. I know, there are worse problems in the world!
Unlike my husband, I do make resolutions every year. I always have; I am one of those people who responds well to having things written down on a list. They are much more likely to come to fruition that way – for me. And, I love making lists just for the sake of making lists anyway! I’ve gone through many phases of writing New Year’s resolutions: writing down faithfully that I would gain 10 pounds (I was a very skinny teenager and a fussy eater, and never gained the 10 pounds – and more – until long after I didn’t want them anymore); promising myself that I really would remember to give my kids their vitamins every day (which I’ve just found out is still a challenge for some parents near and dear to me in the next generation); and, noble pledges to become fluent in French (a work in progress for decades now). This time I’m going to prioritize, and then stick to my big-ticket items. The rest I’ll just write down on weekly to-do lists and hope for the best. By actually posting these resolutions in a blog, surely they’re more likely to be accomplished, right?! Whatever helps with accountability.
I had great hopes to start this New Year off by participating in our local Resolution Run tomorrow, January 1. It was to be the official start of my 2018 revived running program. Unanticipated challenges abound. It’s going to be similar weather tomorrow as today, so there is likely to be a wind chill of -31C (-23.8F) at race time tomorrow, but I do have all the cold weather running gear I need. The road is ridiculously icy because of the hours of freezing rain we had before a snowstorm, followed by days upon days of frigid temps, but I do have good yaktrax for my winterized running shoes. However, I also managed to contract a chest cold over Christmas, which has now put the final nail in the Resolution Run coffin; running in the Resolution Run is just not going to happen.
That having been said, I did train for the 5K and as soon as this chest cold is gone I will be back at it. I just need a new (short) target race. What I’d really like to do is build back up to 10K, if only my ankle/foot will cooperate. I’ll stick to 5K if necessary; it’s better than nothing.
A blogging friend of mine in the Isle of Jersey set a target number of running miles for 2017 for himself. I had never thought of that. Brilliant, Roy. I can’t cover nearly as much ground anymore, but I’m going to try this with a reduced quota. I will run 500 miles (800 kms) in 2018.
I have a new idea for a series of stories for kids 5-10. I can’t reveal what it’s about just yet, but this is going to be my 2018 writing priority. I will start and complete a new children’s series. I’m pretty excited about the concept. More to follow eventually.
Getting back into blogging more regularly – and making some new blogging friends to add to long-time ones – has been one of my pleasures of 2017. I know I shouldn’t post too often and bore people, so I need to pay attention to my topics. Keep things relevant and interesting, informative and entertaining. I will write the equivalent of one blog post per week. Or maybe a tiny bit more!
I am adding this resolution as an aid to increasing my personal happiness quotient. I will not obsess over the news, as gripping as it might be. 2107 just about did me in.
These are my priority resolutions. Plus, of course, doing my part in helping my family and friends have a happy and fulfilling 2018. (If you read to the end of this blog, please excuse its self-indulgent nature!)
Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? Any favourites that you keep repeating? What’s your success rate like??!
Happy New Year, everyone!