“If you flee from the things you fear, there’s no resolution.” – Chuck Palahniuk
Ah, yes, resolutions. We tend to make them once a year and about 9 out of 10 of us fail. Inspiring stuff!
Well, what if we’re the one who keeps it? Screw statistics! We rock! We’ll beat those odds. We’re special. Mom says so!
Sweet bias. Always there to help us along. That’s a really good thing since looking at the facts can’t helpful. Or can it?
Let’s look at it through another lens. Sure it’s “tradition” and all of that but what’s the backstory?
Before Julius Caesar introduced his calendar that marked January 1st as the first day of the new year, it was actually celebrated sometime in March with roots in the Babylonian festival called Akitu. Well, the date was actually contested because… Reasons, I guess? It was however officially installed with the Gregorian calendar. There you go. Technicalities!
Why resolutions then?
Babylonians would start the new year by promising their gods to return borrowed items and repay their debts.
The Romans in turn would make promises to Janus, their god of beginnings and transitions.
Let’s take a look at the etymology!
Resolution means, drumroll please, “A breaking into parts”. Wow. No wonder we break ours! Now, we may want to rethink the use of that particular word.
Is “promise” any better? Has the meaning of “before sending forth”. We say what we’re going to do in the future. Good!
What about “decide”? That’s an interesting one. Means to “cut off from”. Really strong. Somewhat violent perhaps. Although, this might actually serve us well.
Think about it. Do you remember a time when you’ve just had enough? You’d gone through a period in your life where you felt that things weren’t going the way you wanted. Career, relationships, life in general? Then came that one fateful moment when everything had just built up to the point where you had to go: “I’m not having it anymore, this stops NOW!”.
You steamrolled it. People around you might’ve told you to chill out and think about it but your mind was made up. There was nothing else. You’d cut off all other possibilities. You’d made: a decision.
If we want to make a change we really need to want to do it. Either the reward has to be that huge for us or the pain that hard. If we make promises willy nilly we’re telling ourselves subconciously that we’re “liars” and that it’s ok to break those resolutions and promises.
I’m not immune to these things either. But i’ve learned some great tools along the way to help make decisions easier. Here’s what I do. I make a ginormous list of things I want to do in the future. Let’s call these “promises”. They haven’t got a deadline, so, there you go.
I let the list sit for a while, a few days to a week, glancing at it every now and then. What I don’t do is to just pick one and go. There are some criteria that need to be met.
First thing to ask is: “How important is this to me?”. If I take a look at an item and think one of the following: “I should do that”, “Yeah, that’d be nice!” or “That’s easy!” it gets canned.
When I imagine not having done them before i’m dead and they make me feel god-awful. Those are the ones. There’s another uplifting version of this. After i’ve eliminated the “shoulds”, “nices” and “easies” I look at the rest and usually there’s one that catches my eye and everytime I take another look at it something builds up.
It’s hard to tell what it is but something just makes it go: “Hmm…”.
Then it goes: “Yeah!”.
Then: “Hell yeah!”.
Finally there’s that moment of: “Let’s do this s**t motherf***ers!”.
If we’re lucky we just know. There’s that instant moment when you get chills all over your body and you just go, go, go! There isn’t even a moment of hesitation. What usually gets in the way however is that itsy bitsy voice that goes: “I can’t do that!” or any variation on the theme.
So, you’ve made a New Year’s resolution and are rethinking it? You just plain haven’t? Keep calm. There are 365 days a year to make decisions on. Any one of them will do.
The main hinderance is the amount of time we let pass before taking that first step. If we get home after a tough day at work on friday, have a beer and tell our friend: “Man, starting on monday i’m going to *fill in the blank*” we’ve left too much time between the point of decision and action. That’s what we call “a promise”. Even when we’ve put a deadline on it we haven’t taken a single step towards that goal.
Say the quote with me now! “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. Good job.
When something is really important to you make sure that you take the first step towards it immediately!
Get out there and get decisive!
Hair – I Got Life