This New Year came in more with a limp than a bang – the current wave of the pandemic cast a shadow over curtailed celebrations and 2022 hasn’t been quite the fresh start we had hoped to see. We can however remain hopeful and excited about what is around the corner, in doing so, have you made a New Year’s resolution yet?

Have you ever wondered how the practice of New Year’s resolutions came to be? Tracing the origins of New Year’s resolutions actually takes us back in history to ancient times, to the Babylonians who vowed to pay their bills and return farm equipment that had been borrowed from others in the community. Their celebration lasted a great deal longer than ours, a festival called Akitu that went on for 12 days at the start of the farming season.  They hoped that the gods would bless them that year with an abundance of crops if they followed through on their promises. Once the Julian calendar was implemented by Julius Caesar, January 1st was recognized as the beginning of the new year. The Romans continued the tradition of resolutions by claiming to conduct themselves properly and make a sacrifice to honour one of their gods, Janus.

New Year’s resolutions continued through the Ages however, they changed from being religious or spiritual in nature to ones reflecting strength of character, responsibility or self-discipline. Currently, many people have a hearty chuckle over their New Year’s resolutions knowing full well that although they have good intentions, they probably will not be able to follow through.  For this reason, some people avoid making them altogether or don’t wish to entertain the thought.

If you do wish to have a New Year’s resolution then it can have a very positive outcome if you see it as setting a goal, one that can be reached in the long term by breaking it down into short term activities; this is how we develop plans with our adult learners.  One approach is using SMART* goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. By managing your expectations and keeping it simple you can mitigate any challenges you face and maintain perspective for a successful outcome. What is important, is that whatever decisions or actions you take in the year ahead, be kind to yourself.

I have decided to make a New Year’s resolution this year and I have chosen a word to guide me in order to attain my goal.  This lovely picture and quote below, says it all.  Happy New Year!

*Harvard Health