By Mark A. Upaa
It’s just the 13th of January, and if your just like me, you might have already discovered that this year’s New Year’s resolution may already seem like a ‘Pipe Dream’ or an Excersise in Futility and we are still in January. Where did all this Wahala come from self?
A New Year’s resolution is a tradition, most common in the Western Hemisphere but also found in the Eastern Hemisphere, in which a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behavior, to accomplish a personal goal or otherwise improve their life. This desire for change is usually strongest or most compelling as one year bites the dust and a new year is born.
Origin of New Year Resolutions:
Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts. The ancient Romans also began each year by making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named. In the Medieval era, the knights took the “peacock vow” at the end of the Christmas season each year to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry and other ‘knightly pursuits”. In more recent times, watchnight services, (usually held on the night of 31st December into early January 1st) are occasion for manyChristians to prepare for the year ahead by praying and making these resolutions or desire for a better year ahead, a major supplication to God.
Ths tradition has many other religious parallels. During Judaism’s New Year, Rosh Hashanah, and throughout the High Holidays, culminating in Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), one is expected to reflect upon one’s wrongdoings over the previous year and both seek and offer forgiveness. People can act similarly during the Christian liturgical season of Lent, although the motive behind the Lenten period is more of sacrifice than of responsibility. In fact, the Methodist practice of New Year’s resolutions came, in part, from these Lenten sacrifices. The concept, regardless of creed, is to reflect upon self-improvement annually.
At the end of the Great Depression, (early to mid 1920’s) about a quarter of American adults formed New Year’s resolutions. By the start of the 21st century, about 40% did. In fact, according to the American Medical Association, approximately 40% to 50% of Americans participated in the New Year’s resolution tradition from about 1995 onwards. A pattern that many in other parts of the world increasingly share, with the advent of Globalization and the popularity of the tradition, enspoused by many in the main stream media.
Some popular resolutions are:
- Promise to donate to charities more often.
- Try to become more assertive.
- Strive to be more environmentally responsible.
- Improve physical well-being: eat healthy food, lose weight, exercise more, eat better, drink less alcohol, quit smoking, stop biting nails, get rid of old bad habits.
- Improve mental well-being: think positive, laugh more often, enjoy life more, worry less.
- Improve finances: get out of debt, save money, make small investments.
- Improve career: perform better at current job, get a better job, establish own business.
- Improve education: improve grades, get a better education, learn something new (such as a foreign language or music), study often, read more books, improve talents.
- Improve self: become more organized, reduce stress, be less grumpy, manage time, be more independent, perhaps watch less television, play fewer sitting-down video games.
- Take a trip, travel more with an aim of broadening your horizon.
- Get along better with people, improve social skills, enhance social intelligence, make new friends, spend quality time with family members.
- Settle down, get engaged/get married, have kids.
- Pray more, be more spiritual.
- Be more involved in sports or different recreational activities.
Spend less time on social media (such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr etc.)
In a 2014 report, 35% of respondents who failed their New Year’s Resolutions admitted they had unrealistic goals, 33% of participants didn’t keep track of their progress, and 23% forgot about them; about one in 10 or 10% of respondents claimed they made too many resolutions.
An earlier 2007 study by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol involving 3,000 people showed that 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail, despite the fact that 52% of the study’s participants were confident of success at the beginning. Men achieved their goal 22% more often when they engaged in goal setting, wherein resolutions are made in terms of small and measurable goals (e.g., “lost a pound a week” rather than “lose weight”).
Let’s try something DIFFERENT: A Personal Development Project (PDP) is a regularly scheduled set of exercises completed every 30 days that is designed to help any individual accomplish four basic goals:
- The self-mastery and skill development that results from performing challenging tasks based on commitment rather than convenience.
- The sense of accomplishment and self-confidence that comes from consistently meeting specific goals.
- The self-awareness and self-actualization that comes from repeated investment in constructive or creative action.
- The practical, real world results of a consistent bias towards completed action.
Simply put, a PDP is something you do for a month in order to become a better version of yourself and to achieve clear, tangible outcomes. PDPs address a number of problems that come from taking a New Year’s Resolution approach to your goals:
They force you to essentialize and concretize the steps to getting what you actually want.
* They lower the barrier to entry greatly. Rather than jumping 4 foot hurdles you can jump a 1 foot hurdle every month.
* They help you cultivate a sense of accomplishment every month. Giant, year long goals have a way of making us feel dissatisfied and making things harder to stick to as a result.
* Goal setting allows us to defer the responsibility of taking action to a later date. Daily and weekly action forces us to start now.
Studies have advocated one month is the best starting point. Anything shorter and it will be difficult to see real results or finish anything substantial. Anything longer and you’ll start to fall into the New Year’s Resolutions trap.
How to Get Started:
To get started take a goal of yours and break it into an activity that can be done on a daily basis.
If your goal is to “get in shape,” commit to doing a simple, quantifiable workout every day.
If you want to become a well-known blogger, spend 30 days writing a post every single day.
Focus on committing to the process rather than the specific outcome. In 30 days, you can revisit the broader goal and define another daily activity you can commit to that will help you reach the next level, and the next. If you ‘feel me’ and want to try something different, please use the guidlines stated above, also give me a shout at email@example.com, let me know if this has been helpful, if your making progress or not, lets see if we can make 2019 our best year yet.