The year 2013 has come and gone, heralding in a collection of 365 days anew at the stroke of midnight as 2014 takes the helm. Along with the frustrations of changing dates on signed documents for months to come – all of which seem to be suffering from 2013 nostalgia – a new year boasts to be a time of renewal, of new choices and personal growth yet untapped.
Many will undertake the process of crafting new years resolutions to better their lot in life in 2014. Whether formal or informal, dreams take shape at the posting of a new ‘motivational outdoor scenes’ calendar, wherein it seems that inspired new career or that hot new physique are almost divine providence.
And yet, much like the inevitability of time’s passage, many resolutions will eventually begin to erode and consequently perish as 2013’s unhinged laughter echoes from the catacombs of the past. Research has demonstrated that six months after many resolutions are proclaimed, half of those eager individuals have already given up on their goals. But why do we falter with our ambitious, magnanimous self-promises?
One need only look to the etymology – or origin – of the word ‘resolution’ to gather hints on this question. The root word is Latin: resolvere, meaning ‘to loosen or release’. First known use is said to have occurred in the late 14th century from Old French ‘resolution’, meaning a breaking into parts.
What these roots of the word might imply, when taken in the context of new goals and aspirations, is that the success of one’s resolution lies not in the control of one’s destiny, but in the loosening of one’s control and the segmenting of ideas into attainable parcels. Rather than have a nebulous, foggy aim with no real plan of attack, it strikes that this version of goal-setting involves understanding the process of self realization from baby steps to eventually ‘becoming’ the person you aspired to become without having to think about it.
The word ‘resolution’ in it’s current meaning, however, is usually applied to a change in law, organization or group, as in “be it resolved that…”. This current definition implies a hardness, a static purpose, a written idea.
Writing down and cementing ideas on paper keeps them top of mind at a glance, but this idea of a resolution – written down, as in law – only works insofar as it is complimented by rote practice, habit and conscious effort that transcends a date and time, just as resolutions in law only work when those to whom it applies carry out it’s mandate. Similarly, resolutions gathered on the excitement of symbolically leaving the past behind must be complimented with maintenance long after that excitement has moved on.
Perhaps a better phrase might be New Year’s Practice or New Year’s Routine. It may not have the same purposeful resonance as it’s time-honoured counterpart, but stands true to an approach to resolutions that is sustainable. It is only with positive habitual action that change takes place.
Even the expression New Year’s Reflection could further fine-tune the process. With every change of behaviour an old way of being must be altered, if not destroyed outright. The only way to harness change is to find out what negative emotions or bad habits are binding one to an old way of being – one that is outdated and in need of changing.
Goal setting for the New Year is no different than goal setting at any other juncture, except that the meaning behind the goal is reinforced by a symbolic cleaning of the slate of time. To purposefully set, and succeed at, a New Year’s resolution, it needs to be looked at not with the rose-coloured glasses of fireworks, song and joyful camaraderie but with realistic understanding of the process of change. Resolutions should be set with the foundations and planning of success so that in years to come, new goals can be set and carried out with more fluency. After all, it’s not New Year’s Recurrence!