'Tis the season to make "New Year's Resolutions." Between 40% and 50% of us will make them. I am not a member of that group, however. The only "resolution" I make every year is to not make a New Year's resolution, and I've been quite successful, every year. It also saves a lot of disappointment.
There will be resolutions to lose weight. There will be resolutions to quit smoking. There will be resolutions to quit drinking alcohol. There will be resolutions to love more, hate less, be less judgemental, be more tolerant, think more, etc. Virtually everything is up for grabs.
Unfortunately, and despite the best of intentions, most resolutions will be nothing more than a distant memory by month's end. In fact, it's estimated that at least 25% of New Year's resolutions will fall by the wayside just one week into the New Year. Nothing quite like starting off the New Year with a broken promise -- to yourself, nonetheless.
If you break your New Year's resolutions, don't despair. You have a lot of company. A 2013 study out of Scranton University (yes, they really do study stuff like this) finds that only 8% of New Year's resolutions are actually kept. That means that of the people who make New Year's resolutions, 92% break them.
The practice of making New Year's resolutions started over 4,000 years ago, with the Babylonians. They celebrated their New Year in March, presumably around Spring. And, it was a festive 11 day celebration. They would make promises to their gods, hoping to receive good favor from their gods throughout the upcoming year.
For most of us -- at least those who make New Year's resolutions (again ... I'm not one of them) -- New Year's resolutions are an opportunity for introspection. That introspection allows us to acknowledge and vow to fix those aspects of our lives that we do not view favorably. It allows us to set personal goals. For many, that introspection is necessary. I, for one, am quite happy with my lot in life. I have "come to terms" with those personal goals that haven't been achieved, and that probably never will be achieved.
The problem is, most people set unrealistic and unattainable goals. In their mind, the goal is attainable. But, in reality, it's no more attainable than being able to walk to Mars. Experts say that you should set realistic and attainable goals. Setting a goal of losing 100 pounds (or even 50 pounds) may not be realistic, but setting a goal to lose 10 pounds by March 1 is a more realistic and attainable goal.
These same experts say to share your resolutions (goals) with others. That way, when your friends, family and acquaintances inquire about your progress, you can give (will want to give) a positive report. Certainly, no one wants to look like a liar, or a failure. No one wants to admit weakness and defeat. No one wants to look like a person who goes back on their word, or that their word isn't worth anything.
I don't know about you, but that sounds a lot like shaming yourself into compliance. Not my cup of tea, thank you very much. I'm not into self flagellation and degradation. Nor am I into setting myself up for failure or humbling myself. Life is already humbling enough with all of its failures, trials and tribulations. It doesn't need my help.
If you are a person who makes New Year's resolutions, I wish you the sincerest best of luck in keeping them. I'll be right there, on the sidelines, cheering you on. But, in so many ways, that introspection causes nothing but extra chaos in an already chaotic world and life.
So, once again this year I will resolve to not make any New Year's resolutions. Until next month, I bid you peace, happiness, serenity and prosperity.