So did you make any New Year resolutions?
If you’re like the group at a recent WordPress Meetup I attended in North Phoenix, you didn’t. Just about no one planned for any other than “not to make New Year resolutions.”
The New Year is a Terrible Time to Make Resolutions
I’m convinced that New Year’s is about the worst time to make a resolution. Here are just a few reasons:
- New Year’s happens near the end of the winter holiday season. Many of us are squeezing in a last few hours to engage in mild to moderate hedonism.
- Once you’ve broken a resolution by January 2, what’s the point?
- New Year’s resolutions have a nagging quality no one wants to deal with particularly when they are leaving party mode.
- It’s still cold and miserable out for a lot of the country. And while it’s mild here in the Phoenix area, it’s dark by 6:30 and that makes it feel cold.
And for what it’s worth, it’s been overcast for more than a week now in Phoenix and it’s rained almost every day. I know I shouldn’t complain but really, this is not what I expect during the months when you can go outside for more than a few minutes without bringing a hat, sunscreen, or water.
I just got these cute new sunglasses just before Christmas Day and I have had exactly one opportunity to use them. This isn’t normal.
The Best Laid New Year Resolution Plans Don’t Work Anyway
I spent the last day of the holiday coming to grips with the fact that my LastPass master password wasn’t going to work no matter what I did. I must have changed it at some point but I don’t remember doing this. LastPass doesn’t store master passwords so I reset the whole mess and began the process of asking every site I visit to let me change the password. This takes more time than you’d think.
To make matters worse, LastPass reset me as a free user when in fact I’m a Premium user. I sent them a copy of the invoice but they haven’t acted on it yet.
Can you guess what my resolution was for 2016?
So much for planning. I wonder if Australians and New Zealanders are more successful with their New Year resolutions?
The Middle of Winter Doesn’t Feel Like a New Year
Frankly, I never felt like the middle of winter was a good time to start the New Year.
This may be because I’m Jewish, and we celebrate New Year begins in the autumn. This also coincides with the start of the school year. As a kid I thought it was perfectly logical to have a New Year holiday at that time.
But the middle of winter? Why not have a new year during the summer solstice?
It’s not like anything is new in January. OK, there’s a new president coming in but a a lot of people aren’t particularly happy about this.
Plus, it’s still the middle of winter. For a lot of the country, the light at the end of the tunnel is still a few month’s off at best. This really isn’t the time to start a conversation about losing weight, cutting down on drinking, or blogging more often.
Well, maybe blogging more often is easier to do.
New Year Resolutions Weren’t Supposed to Start So Early In the Year
It turns out that the middle of the damn winter isn’t when we are supposed to celebrate the new year and make New Year resolutions.
According to History.com, the earliest known new year celebrations were in ancient Babylon and they did it in March, for the spring solstice. They started this about 4,000 years ago.
The Babylonians marked their new year at around the time of the equinox, which coincided with the spring barley harvest. They celebrated with different rituals for 11 days. New kings were crowned around that time as well, since it coincided with a religious event to celebrate their sky god’s victory over the sea god.
They also made promises to their gods they’d pay back their debts and return things they’d borrowed. Pretty much like a New Year resolution, isn’t it?
The Jewish New Year includes 10 Days of Awe that end with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. On that day, we’re supposed to we are supposed to ask for forgiveness for our sins or wrongdoings/screwups and hope to be inscribed in the Book of Life. That does make it easier to make a resolution to Never Do This Again, or Stop Doing That or you won’t get in the book.
It’s striking to see that both cultures established a new year holiday after their harvest had nearly the same number of days devoted to it.
As for my resolutions, the timing helped me keep them at least through the winter break. By that time, I was used to them so keeping them after January 2 wasn’t so hard.
How to Keep a Resolution Any Time of Year
I’d say there are healthy ways to approach a resolution:
- Start a resolution whenever it feels right. If it’s New Year’s, fine, but understand the odds are against success.
- Make it something you really want to do and that you know will be beneficial, like quit smoking.
- Celebrate benchmarks. If you go a week without smoking, look at the money you saved and put it aside for something fun.
- Recognize that some days are better than others.
- Read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. He really puts things in perspective.
Lastly, keep a backup copy of your passwords somewhere that’s really secure–a safe, or maybe a shoebox.