by Lisette Cheresson
Making New Year’s resolutions is, for some, the toughest part of the holidays. The origin of making resolutions to mark the New Year dates back to the time of Ancient Babylon, when the New Year was celebrated at the vernal equinox. It is thought that the Babylonians made promises (such as to pay off debt or return farm equipment) in order to earn favor with the gods. Today, in a world in which we are constantly bombarded with implorations to be happier, skinnier, prettier, and more productive, resolutions can cause anxiety and feelings of disappointment, thoughts of aging and loss, and lack of self-confidence.
Part of the intention of New Year’s resolutions, however, is to set goals that help us overcome these very feelings. If you’re someone for whom the thought of resolutions has always caused stress, there are several things you can do to change that perception. Goals, in the form of resolutions, can be a great way to keep your life organized and healthy. If you’re considering setting some, here are some things to keep in mind.
Keep it real.
Having a tangible goal—something that can literally be checked off a list—can help to cut down on a lot of the anxiety surrounding resolutions. Rather than your resolution being a vague missive to “lose weight,” for example, set a workout schedule: “On Mondays and Wednesdays I’ll go to the gym.” Don’t just assume your schedule will include your resolutions, either. Pencil them into your calendar. Make resolutions commitments you can check off your weekly to-do list. This not only helps to firm them up, but also provides for a sense of accomplishment once they’re achieved.
Rather than writing a resolution that dictates what you WON’T do (ie: “I won’t have a cup of coffee every morning”), write in the affirmative (ie: “I’ll only have coffee twice a week”). The way you speak to yourself matters. It’s much easier to be negative with oneself than with anyone else—you wouldn’t speak to your children or your friends in “no” terms all the time. Why do it to yourself? By making your resolutions positive, you relieve a lot of the stress that comes from rules and regulations.
Make ‘em short and sweet.
If you’re doin’ it, you’re doin’ it—which is why many people tend to bog themselves down with resolutions in the New Year. Don’t give yourself a massive list of things to keep in mind. Instead, try one serious resolution (“I’ll do a better job being patient, even when my son’s dawdling makes me late”) and one fun one (“I’ll go out—sans kids—with my friends at least once a month”). Once you’ve completed those resolutions, or they’ve become a part of your everyday life, it’s not as if you can’t make new ones. Evoke the Babylonian within and make new ones on the equinox, or mark a birthday with a new resolution if you’ve achieved the one you set at New Year’s.
Resolutions are meant to help with stress—not cause them. Here’s to a 2014 full of low-stress, high-performing, intentional living. Happy New Year!
Krayons & Karma managing editor Lisette Cheresson is a freelance writer, editor, and filmmaker living in New York City. An avid traveler, dirt-collector, composter, hiker, dancer, and lover-of-yoga, Lisette’s work has appeared in Off Track Planet, The Huffington Post, a selection of New York Times books, TheRag literary magazine, and as a Glimmer Train contest finalist. Her films can be watched at www.flyoverpics.com.
Image courtesy of luigi diamanti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net