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It is that time of year again when everybody is thinking about making New Year’s Resolutions.

It made wonder what is the history behind making New Year’s Resolutions?

It appears the practice of making New Year’s Resolutions dates back centuries and was first used as religious practices.

One of the earliest historical records of New Year’s Resolutions dates back over 4000 years and is attributed to ancient Babylon.  The Babylonians made promises to the gods each year in March when crops were planted instead of in January.

In the Roman Empire in about 49 BC during the days when Julius Ceasar was emperor, the Romans began each year by making promises to the god Janus.  Janus is a two-faced god looking backwards in the past and forward into the future.  The month of January is named after the god Janus.

Since the days of Jesus Christ, Christians use January 1st as a day of reflection and a day to make commitments to improve their lives in the upcoming year.

Over many centuries, the practice of making New Year’s Resolutions has evolved from religious practices to more secular ones.

Today, most New Year’s Resolutions are focused on setting self-improvement goals.

Many people use the start of a new year as an opportunity for reflection and self-improvement, making it a popular and enduring tradition.

Many of you fail at your New Year’s Resolutions for a lot of different reasons. 

However, remember:

“If you slip up, do not give up!”

Stephen Lesavich, PhD

One big reason New Year’s Resolutions fail is that they do not include a specific time-frame for completion.

The success of your New Year’s Resolutions depends largely on your individual commitment and setting reasonable, achievable goals with a specific time-frame.

One popular existing framework you can use including a specific time-frame your New Year’s Resolution is a framework based on the “SMART” acronym, created by George Doran and others.  SMART stands for “Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.”  

How can you achieve success with your New Year’s Resolutions?

Your success must involve a combination of careful planning, realistic goal-setting, and consistent follow-through based on a specific time frame.

Here are some tips to increase your chances of success of achieving your New Year’s Resolutions.

  1. Set Specific and Achievable Resolution Goals Using Declarations:  A goal is defined as “desired results that a person is committed to achieving within a specific time-frame.”  Most people fail to complete their resolutions because the goals they create to achieve them are vague and do not include a specific time-frame for completion. For example, many of you create vague resolutions like “I want to lose weight,” “I want to get more sleep,” “I want find a new relationship,” etc. A declaration is a very powerful way to state a resolution and to change current behavior patterns in your subconscious mind. A declaration is “a formal or explicit statement or announcement for a commitment to a desired result in a specific time frame.”  A declaration is a statement of direct instructions to your subconscious for completing your resolution.  Declarations start with, “I declare, I am …”  Use a declaration within the SMART framework. For example, state your resolution goals with declarations such as “I declare, I am going to lose ten pounds in one month with my new exercise routine,” “I declare, I am going to bed at 10:00 pm every night without looking at social media on my phone in bed, to get more sleep,” I declare, I am going to message one new person each day I am interested in on my online dating site to find a new relationship, etc.”
  2. Create a Resolution Goal Plan and Schedule: Create a written plan and schedule with specific daily times and desired resolution goal milestones (i.e., progress points, etc.) to achieve your resolution goals.  Be flexible with your written plan resolution goal schedule and adjust as necessary.  Life events (e.g., a new deadline at work, a sick child, a dead battery in your car, etc.) are going to happen that may keep you from completing a resolution goal task on any given day.  Take responsibility for all your actions and hold yourself accountable for making any necessary adjustments to your resolution goal schedule. Keeping a written journal or using an app on your phone to track your progress will motivate you as you can visually look back and see your progress and also help you stay on course when adjustments are necessary.  Reward yourself when you accomplish your resolution goal milestones and achieve specific desired resolution goals.
  3. Focus on Your Progress with Your Resolution Goal Plan: When you are doing anything to initiate positive change in your life with a New Year’s Resolution, remember it is the personal progress you make that is most important for achieving your desired outcomes.  Personal progress is not a linear journey.  Personal progress is actually cyclical journey that includes many asynchronous adverse events.  You often re-visit a same or similar situation in a cycle from a new vantage point from which you can observe it with a greater clarity before you move forward. You can always make a new decision to stay on track with your resolution goals. Many of you are awake and conscious for 12 or more hours each day. There are 720 minutes in a 12-hour day (12 hours x 60 minutes/hour = 720 minutes). You have the opportunity to make 720 new decisions about your life each day if you make one new decision each minute.  Appreciate your journey as you grow and change. In many instances, the new skills and habits you develop and the experiences and personal grow you achieve completing your resolutions are more important than the resolutions themselves. 

One of my New Year’s Resolution is to spend ten minutes each day walking backwards.  Walking backwards is a technique developed and refined by Celebrity Trainer, David Mariani of Basketball.Biology.  For more information on walking backwards, listen to this podcast.

Podcast 177 – January 1, 2024 Interview with David Mariani of Basketball.Biology

Walking backwards improves your brain functionality, your cognitive abilities, improves balance and body consciousness by flexing your muscles in a different way, reduces pain in your knees and creates new neural pathways in your brain.

Therefore, my New Year’s Resolution is “I declare, I am going to spend ten minutes each day walking backwards to improve my brain, improve my balance and reduce pain in my knees from my daily runs.

The key to success with New Year’s Resolutions is persistence and the willingness to adapt and learn from the resolution experiences to create a positive impact in your life in a new year.

Out There on the Edge of Everything®

Stephen Lesavich, PhD

Copyright © 2024, by Stephen Lesavich, PhD.  All rights reserved.

Certified solution-focused life coach and experienced business coach.