Well, it is now 2012. If you can believe it, yet another year has passed us by. I, and I'm sure many of you, have spent the past few weeks preparing for 2012. I bought a new calendar, I started planning vacation, I cleaned my house. There is something about January that makes me want to start out with a clean slate. An emptied inbox, a paid off credit card, a full tank of gas. The other thing about this time of year is that, for one reason or another, it always tends toward self-examination. We think about the past year and how it could have gone differently. We look forward to the fresh start this new year has given us to use all the wisdom we gained from growing one year older. And that, inevitably, leads us to the New Year's Resolution.
My research on the beginnings of the New Year's Resolution was some what inconclusive. Basically, no one is entirely certain how the custom came about, but we figure that it is based on a combination of several different traditions of either sacrifice to the gods or atonement. Over time it has evolved into an annual reflection upon self-improvement. Which I think most people would consider to be a very good thing. Here's the kicker though. Studies have shown that 88% of people who set New Year's Resolutions ultimately fail. So, although lots of people have the desire to improve themselves and the world at the new year, most people never see this desire through.
And I bet if you really think about it, you probably aren't surprised by that statistic. How many times have you set a resolution and eventually given up? I know I have. One year I resolved to teach myself how to play piano. I borrowed my brother's keyboard and bought a book on how to learn from Barnes & Noble. But within a week I was just so lost and confused I had to quit. I was so embarrassed I even had to have my brother return the book for me. So why is it so hard for us, who seem to really want to set these goals, to keep our resolutions?
I, of course, don't have the answer to this. But I think a lot of it probably has to do with the fact that we make these resolutions just because of the time of year. There aren't any Saint Patrick's Day's Resolutions or Fourth of July's Resolutions. We feel like the only time we can set a goal is at the start of the year. That if we commit to making ourselves or our world better half-way through, it won't mean anything. So we hurry to come up with something and we really try to commit to it, but we can't because we didn't exactly mean it from the start.
My mom said something to me this year when she got frustrated with her Christmas shopping. She said, "I can't think of anything to get you and I don't like having to do it like this. I would rather just see something I think you would like and buy it no matter what time of year it is than have to buy you something right now." Doesn't that apply to our New Year's Resolutions too? A resolution is defined as determining on a course of action. Determining. That's a pretty powerful word. Resolutions aren't meant to be made and forgotten. We are supposed to seek them with great determination.
So this year for the New Year, I am resolving not to make a resolution. Yet. As the year goes on and opportunities begin to open up to do good deeds or to make changes in my life, I will take them. Not because a holiday dictates that I have to, but because at that time I will be able to determinately resolve to do it. And then maybe, as the calendar rolls over to 2013 I will be able to look back at a year full of resolutions accomplished, not just one made and abandoned. Just some food for thought.
Any ideas you want to share about your resolutions for this year, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org And definitely resolve to come see us at the Fun Fourth Festival this July 4th!