There is an anonymous quote which suggests that the New Year resolutions were invented just to keep every one busy for the rest of the year! Or may be at least for a few months until the resolutions are forgotten or abandoned! A University of Washington study in 1997 found 47 percent of the 100 million adult Americans who make resolutions give up on their goals after two months. This figure has grown to 80 percent in the past decade, according to recent research completed at the University of Minnesota.(1)
A quick Google search unearthed the following information: The tradition of the New Year’s Resolutions goes all the way back to 153 B.C. Janus, a mythical king of early Rome was placed at the head of the calendar. With two faces, Janus could look back on past events and forward to the future. Janus became the ancient symbol for resolutions.(2)
It is hard to establish the validity of such historical antecedent, particularly the exact year -153 BC! But, the suggestion that any resolution requires two components makes a lot of sense: Looking back as a reflection and as a means to project or look forward into the future. Resolution is an oath or a pledge. Resolution does not have to be about something to be done physically. It can be about a course of action, an approach, a frame of mind, a principle or value. Any resolution sets the standards to achieve, the goal to aspire for.
I like the resolutions that are sure bets for accomplishment such as: Focus your efforts to finish what is left over from the past year. This resolution gives me no need to rush at the end of the year and gives me a hope to do something next year, with no surprises attached. It is also a resolution I can keep as a stock item for each year!
“Why does the resolution have to be annual and not semi-annual or biannual?” is a valid question. Any time is good to take a stock of the situation as well as make decisions or plan ahead. So, I don’t really see much point sweating about annual resolutions. Birthdays, anniversaries or any such recurring event might as well be a good time to pause, reflect, gather one’s thoughts, recharge and plan ahead. You might think, this is another evidence of my way of copping out from the hard choices to make in the New Year resolutions and postponing them for another day!
But, whatever the resolution let us not make it as one more opportunity to beat up on ourselves. Focusing on all that is not good or not going well is not a great place to start. Remember about “smelling the roses”? Living well requires a continuous and on-going assessment. It is like pacing yourself in a long work out or a marathon. Of course there are time markers – like the New Year resolution – but, they are mere guide posts. What we need is perseverance, consistent effort and sustained focus. With that as the back bone, whatever we resolve for, we will get there for sure or at least we would have given our best shot at it. But, to put in the best effort, one needs to be aware of what “consistency” really means. Here are a few pointers:
The stability or CONSISTENCY by which one controls the mind (our goals or choices in terms of thoughts, emotions, preferences) and the breathing or life processes (such as all those we do involuntarily) and activities of the body organs (those we do voluntarily and by choice) and the consistency in the pursuit of the path of enlightenment (Yoga or Self-Control)) are described as those belonging to the tranquil nature of a person. B.G. 18. 33.
After having chosen the goals or actions to perform, for good or proper reasons, the stability or consistency in their execution for reasons of desire or wealth (solely for material objects) with attachments to the outcome as the sole purpose – such consistency is associated with the turbulent nature of a person. B.G. 18. 34.
The foolish dependency through which one constantly falls back to sleep, fear, grief, dejection and passion – such stability or consistency is described as that belonging to ignorance or passive nature of a person. B.G. 18. 35.
Happy New Year!