What’s This Whole New Year’s Resolution Thing About Anyway?
Happy New Year! It is a time for a new begging, a fresh start, a new outlook, a clean slate. I even know what many of you are thinking, “I’m going to make 2010 a much better year than last year. I am going to do it by making some resolutions and by George, I am going to stick with them!”
Oh yes of course, its time to commit to those New Year’s resolutions that will make us all a better person. You got your pen out and you are thinking hard. What will you do? Will you quit smoking? Will you eat healthier? Will you work out more?
If you’re into facts and statistics, Franklin Covey released the results of its third annual New Year’s Resolutions Survey, which polled 15,031 customers. The survey found that respondents’ top three New Year’s resolutions or goals for 2008 were to (1) get out of debt or save money, (2) lose weight, and (3) develop a healthy habit like exercise or healthy eating.
Now here are some fun facts. The survey goes on to say that 35% of the respondents broke their New Year’s resolutions by the end of January. Only 23% of those surveyed never broke them (at least at the time of the survey). The others most often broke them before the end of the first quarter. Nearly 40% of those surveyed attribute breaking their resolutions to having too many other things to do, while 33% say they were never committed to the resolutions they set.
So, where did this concept of New Years resolutions come from anyway? Well, arguably the tradition of the New Year’s Resolution goes all the way back to 153 B.C. when Janus, a mythical king of early Rome was placed at the head of the calendar.
In Roman mythology, Janus was the god of gates, doors, doorways, beginnings and endings. His most prominent remnant in modern culture is his namesake, the month of January, which begins the New Year. He is most often depicted as having two faces or heads, facing in opposite directions. With two faces, Janus could look back on past events and forward to the future. Janus became the ancient symbol for resolutions and many Romans looked for forgiveness from their enemies and also exchanged gifts before the beginning of each year.
I can’t be the only one who sees the humor in that. Two faces, making a commitment and then not actually living up to it. How ironic.
Well here it is. Given our success rate, I’m calling for a moratorium on strictly self serving improvements as New Years Eve resolutions. I’m calling you out. You owe it to yourself and your family to make a fundamental commitment to the three most widely acclaimed resolutions noted above. Using them as new resolutions is merely cheating the process. And besides if you are not currently complying with those commitments, the odds are, you will fail again anyway.
Let’s shift our focus from using resolutions as a false directive towards self improvement and on to making resolutions to improve the world around us. We don’t have to start big and we don’t have to commit more that we expect that we can deliver.
Start small. Think how can I improve or enrich the lives around me? Understand that on January 1st you are standing on top of New Year’s hill. You pack a snowball full of optimism, love, compassion and understanding and you send it on its way. Yes, you can be in charge of that snowball and you can take ownership of it.
I don’t know about you, but I will run the risk of getting run over with a positive punch.
Many have asked me about my 2010 resolutions. Well here they are. I have made a list of 52 resolutions or commitments (at least one per week) that I plan to complete by the end of 2010. Some might call it a “Bucket list” if you will. I am providing it to each of you to help hold me accountable during the year. If you feel some personal value in it, feel free to print it and use it, or create your own.
I resolve to:
1. Shake a soldier’s hand that I don’t know.
2. Assist an elderly person across an icy parking lot.
3. Tell at least five people to have an awesome day that I have never met before.
4. Apologize at least once for a disagreement when I still believe I am right
(and the facts back me up).
5. Just do something without asking why.
6. Be there for a friend before they have the opportunity to ask for help.
7. Make at least five strangers laugh.
8. Make a donation to at least five different charities.
9. Spend a day assisting at a food bank or homeless shelter.
10. Buy a stranger a hot cup of coffee.
11. Take a friend at his word and jump into something strictly based on emotion
rather than fact.
12. Make at least five new friends.
13. Tell my wife that I am a better man because of her.
14. Answer a phone call when I know who it is and I don’t really want to talk to
15. Renew my Detroit Lions Tickets (because even a loser needs to know that
someone still supports them).
16. Be nice to telephone solicitor (just once).
17. Donate a used cell phone.
18. Send an email to someone for no other reason than to brighten their day.
19. Treat a group of young kids for pizza and ice cream
20. Salute the American flag.
21. Buy at least a dozen products made or manufactured in my home state.
22. Tell my kids how much I love and am proud of them.
23. Pave a new and better path for others rather than taking the one I always
24. Look up an old friend who I haven’t seen in many years and buy him or her
25. Build a snowman with my kids.
26. Compliment someone’s culture by eating something I’ve never tried before.
27. Write a letter to someone just to make them happy.
28. Travel somewhere I’ve never been before and experience their culture.
29. Enroll in a young child’s enthusiasm.
30. Be so goofy one day so as to make people wonder if I’m crazy
31. Go to a Tiger’s game with friends.
32. Open my own home to others more often.
33. Have a couple of Lafayette Coney Islands with extra onions and some well
done fries with someone who has never been there.
34. Enter a contest that has absolutely no relevance to anything important in my
life just for the fun of it.
35. Do a load of laundry without being asked.
36. Jump in a pile of leaves with my wife just to be silly and to remind us why we
37. Say yes just once when I really really want to say no.
38. Go to a friend or relatives children’s function and cheer for their success.
39. Help a stranded motorist.
40. Donate a dollar to a homeless person without passing judgment as to what he
or she may do with it.
41. Just once, refrain from rolling my eyes when I really want too.
42. Break out in song and or dance one time when no one would ever expect it.
43. Call my mother and sister more often to check in on them.
44. Arrange family gatherings more often just because.
45. Talk less and listen more to the insight of others.
46. Vacuum the house without asking.
47. Be a voice of reason when called upon.
48. Be a shoulder for anyone anywhere who may need it.
49. Defend the honor and integrity for someone who for whatever reason
may not be able to stand up for themselves.
50. Help others discover the passion for, and fun in life.
51. Be an awesome dad so as to make my children proud.
52. Love my wife with all my heart.
Have a truly awesome holiday season. I wish each and every one of you a happy and healthy New Year. May it bring you all the richness you deserve.