I opened one eye and peered into the shadowy disarray of my bedroom. January First glared back at me, its filmy blue eye fixing me in a reproachful stare. I grabbed the comforter and dragged it over my head in hopes of shutting out that telltale eye. No good! I felt myself melting to a protoplasmic mush—amorphous, undefined. I hadn’t made any resolutions. Maybe I could just sleep all year.
Resolution: /ˌrɛzəˈluʃən/ [rez-uh-loo-shuhn] n. 3. the act of resolving or determining upon an action or course of action, method, procedure, etc.
Synonyms: resolve, determination, perseverance, tenacity; strength, fortitude.
After I got out of bed, I researched the tradition of New Year’s resolutions in hopes of coming up with ideas. Reputedly, the Babylonians made resolutions as early as 4000 B.C., but their New Year began on March 23rd and the celebration went on for eleven days. After all that partying, their resolutions probably sounded something like, “I’ll never drink again.”
January 1 became the beginning of the New Year in 46 B.C., when Julius Caesar developed a calendar that would more accurately reflect the seasons than previous calendars. January was named after the mythical figure of Janus, whose two faces symbolized beginnings and endings.
The Romans celebrated the New Year by making resolutions, a common one being to seek forgiveness from enemies. At midnight on December 31, they imagined Janus looking back at the old year and forward to the new (probably with the same vulture eye that woke me up Sunday morning.) I’m betting that first January must have been strange with the 45 B.C. New Year baby still in diapers when the next one was born. Those early Romans loved their parties, but I bet they resolved to quit tinkering with the calendar.
New Year’s resolution making is big business here in the good ole’ US of A. Google it and you’ll get 1.2 million + results, including a Top Ten:
1. Spend more time with friends and family
2. Find time for a fitness program
3. Lose weight
4. Quit Smoking
5. Enjoy life more
6. Quit drinking
7. Get out of debt
8. Learn something new
9. Help others
10. Get organized
But even with guidelines, I’m still stumped. There’s no point in setting unobtainable goals—I tried that four years ago. My first resolution was to lose twenty-five pounds. I joined Weight Watchers in January with my BFF (hold on a sec, I have to pull my 94% fat free popcorn out of the microwave) and started tracking every morsel that crossed my lips. Woo-hoo! Worked great! I’d lost fifteen pounds by April, but three weddings, a cruise, and too many holiday parties later, well…you probably get the picture.
The next year my resolution was to organize my office, but I’m more disorganized now—in two places. The clutter in my home office piled so high, I moved my writing to the studio above the barn, leaving the clutter in the house to nag me every time I passed. Let's not talk about the studio after three years!
Experts say that setting measurable goals is more realistic than say, “I resolve to lose weight.” Describing resolutions in specific terms and breaking down lager goals into smaller, easily achieved challenges—“I’ll weigh-in every Friday at 10”—promotes success. Those same experts stress that finding alternatives for habitual behaviors (exchanging a little nookie for the desserts?) will help me stick to my resolutions. But the most important thing is to choose resolutions that really mean something personally, even if they aren’t in the Top Ten—like blogging regularly, submitting stories for publication, or finding a literary agent.
But 2016 wasn’t all failure for me—I can be proud, walk tall. I lost another eight pounds, worked out every week and kept the weight off during the holidays. I actually do see friends and enjoy life more. And maybe during those work-outs I'll determine a course of action for making my 2017 a happy and prosperous year. Yeah, and the New Year’s baby will finally go down for her nap.