I have mixed feelings about New Year’s resolutions. On one hand, I understand the clean slate that is presented by not just turning over a new page on the calendar but starting a whole new calendar altogether. In the darkest days of the year how it’s easy to be introspective (hence this blog post) and resolute in making changes in life. And the fire is fueled by media and retailers with end caps of Slimfast on sale, Jenny Craig spending what must be 80% of their annual advertising budget in these few weeks between Christmas and mid January and Groupon offering seemingly a different boot camp deal each day. If you’re one of the people that needs these opportunities to jump start your self improvement program, I am not here to judge but to encourage.
And encouragement you might need. There’s a whole slew of varying statistics out there that while the numbers may vary a bit, the gist is that by the end of January 36% of people will have fallen off the band wagon and by the end of the year 88% will have resorted back to their old ways. Not exactly an impressive success rate for the thousands and thousands of people that kick off each January 1 with the best of intentions.
It seems like New Year’s resolutions would be an American thing in my mind. I can’t hardly imagine the French vowing to drink less wine or Italians swearing off carbs. It would seem that they live by the “everything in moderation” theory (or as I like to say, “everything in moderation including moderation”) and that in the US we live big and loud and excessive and make knee jerk reactions that have us bobbing all over the place making it hard to land anywhere long enough to just live a healthy, stable life. One that doesn’t need resolutions. But turns out that this tradition is woven deep into our heritage going back to the Babylonians who promised their gods that they would return borrowed items and pay their debts at the first of the year, the knights of the Medieval period renewed their vows to chivalry and the Romans made their promises to the god Janus for whom January is named.
That brings up the word “promises” – something my husband refuses to make. When questioned on this, he said that he doesn’t make promises because they can be broken and even if it’s unintentional, the implication of not following through on this executive level word can lead to a loss of trust. The word “promise” ends up not meaning anything anymore.
But isn’t that where we are with “resolution” with a failure rate of almost 90% annually? I think I don’t make resolutions in part because of the stigma of the word. I feel like I’m setting myself up for failure and when you’re trying to make life goals who needs that black cloud hanging over them?
So, instead I choose to set goals. They are less severe and pack less consequences than “promise”, don’t come bundled with a Costco-sized failure rate that “resolutions” do and people seem to take me more seriously and are more supportive when I’m working towards a goal. I might stumble along the way, and that’s ok. It happens when you’re working towards a goal. And goals can change as life does and that’s ok too.
On that note, my goal for 2013 is to continue building this blog, becoming a better cook, photographer and writer along the way. And I really do appreciate your support in this endeavor.
Cheers and good luck to you in all your goals in the new year.