A New Year’s tradition: reflections, resolutions, and dreams of fresh starts

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.

History

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!

Resolutions

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.

Running

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.

Writing

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.

Blogging

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 2018. 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!

The news

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!

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15 Responses to A New Year’s tradition: reflections, resolutions, and dreams of fresh starts

  1. Christy B says:

    I have taken up running too! I did a 5k and hope to keep doing small runs. Congratulations on 50 years of marriage 😘

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks, Christy. And I hope you continue to find running as rewarding as I have found it. It makes you feel good on so many levels, even through the struggles and strains! 🙂

  2. Roy McCarthy says:

    The mileage target is an incentive to lace up and get out the door when it might be easier to put it off until another day. That three miles a day (average) target gets rather big if you miss a run or two 🙂 Generally though I’m not reflective, nor am I a resolution-maker.

    You do know that we’ll be back this time next year to see how you’ve done Jane? Happy New Year.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      It’s definitely an incentive, especially when it’s “out there”. And you were my inspiration, as you know. You may not write down resolutions, Roy, but I think you always have lots of plans and projects in the works. I’ll be looking out for some of them as they come to fruition. Happy New Year!

  3. Having new year resolutions and putting it on paper is a great yearly thing to do. For me, I just need to be better with following through on them. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

  4. I write the things I want to do in my planner. I check them off. I know it sounds like a lot of work, but it does work!! Happy new year!

  5. That mileage for the year plan sounds amazing! I wish I could run without looking like a sloth with bees after it. I wish you the very best of years for this one. Looking forward to seeing it unfold as planned. Hugs! X

    • Jane Fritz says:

      A sloth with bees after it, now there’s an image! I bet you could draw that image for me. 🙂 On that topic, sort of, I gave a copy of Myrtle to my little grandsons in Toronto at Christmas and their mother, my lovely daughter-in-law, had heard all about it. It is getting great press in Canada. Congrats, Jo. Happy New Year. I’m looking forward to reading about lots of activity from SA!

  6. DM says:

    If I can get my BMI # down just a little, I can qualify for a $68 per month reduction in our insurance premium. I need to find one that takes into account body structure/ muscle mass. Athletes because of their muscle don’t always fit into those tidy little charts, so if I can find one that is more accurate in regard to those details, I intend to seriously pursue bringing that number down to get the discount…while I am not officially an athlete, neither am I a toad 🙂 I am somewhere in between.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Doug, this sounds like the perfect justification for starting your historical re-enactment walk! And the perfect New Year’s resolution, however you make it happen. You sure don’t have a sedentary lifestyle! Happy New Year.

  7. I like and resolve with you to pay no attention to the news as it just makes me mad and I want to be happier in 2018 and I’m very excited to hear about the children’s books.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Bravo, Rita. I have a feeling that a lot of us share that desire for less anger and more happiness. Declan’s just one now, right? When he’s two I’ll send you my Robby Robin stories for him.

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