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Revolution of Resolutions
This story appears in the January 2019 issue of School LIVE.
With the end of each year, people eagerly get down to jotting down their objectives for the new year as they turn a new leaf in their lives. These resolutions could be anything ranging from becoming a better person, to saving more money or being more healthy and fit. But, whatever our ‘resolution’ may be, have we ever thought about how it came into practise? And why is it that we ALL make them, and despite the best of our efforts we fail at keeping up with them each year?



The one thing that we plan as we approach the year end is the much debatable task of assigning ourselves personal goals or mission for the coming year. Most of us who think that ‘New Year’s Resolution’ is something that is just a new age trend are definitely going to be surprised to know of its origins! The entire practise of resolutions is not something new, and actually has roots seeped in time immemorial, much older than the celebration of New Year’s itself! We go back 4,000 years to the ancient Babylonian era. Surprise, surprise! The first ever mention of resolutions dates back to this very time and period.


The people of Babylon were the first ones to celebrate the New Year’s, but in mid-March (which is when the new crops were planted). Instead of celebrating New Year’s just for a day, their celebrations spanned over 12 long days as a festival known as ‘Akitu’. During the celebrations the Babylonians reaffirmed their loyalty towards the existing king, or they crowned a new king. They also made promises to their gods to pay back any debt that they might have incurred during the year. It was a popular belief amongst them that all those who could keep their promise, flourished with wealth in the coming year and those who failed would fall out of god’s favours.


In the year 46 B.C, Roman emperor Julius Caesar tweaked the calendar a little and January 1st came to be marked as the beginning of the New Year (January, named after Janus the two faced God who symbolically looked backward at the year gone, while looking ahead in the future as well). Early Christians, greatly influenced by the Romans in their traditions, associated the first day of the New Year as the traditional day of pondering over their past mistakes. They did so with an aim of not repeating the same mistakes in the future, and becoming better people.


Despite these traditional roots, resolutions today have become more of a secular practise which involves individuals making resolutions towards their personal growth. Having said that, it does not change the fact that we literally find it hard to keep up with them no matter what.


What if we told you that we can blame psychology for not being able to keep up with our resolutions no matter how hard we try! According to a survey conducted in 2016 survey by the Publicity and Social Psychology Bulletin, it was found that those resolutions which aimed at improving health or taking care of prior debts (long term practices with no immediate results) are the resolutions which are first to see a fall out. Our mind is conditioned in such a way that unless we recognise immediate rewards, we are not likely to stick to a plan for long. Simply put, making smaller changes and improvisations in life that do not seem intimidating, changes which our mind does not register as life altering overnight, are the one we are more likely to stick to.


Another reason why most resolutions fail is because we put in so much thought behind them that we are hardly left with any willpower to see them through! We can only imagine how difficult it is to focus on a resolution, which we hope will help in shaping the NEW YOU. However, what we seem to forget is the fact that a simple resolution can not change any habit or the way you live life in a single night. More than the thought process this practise needs dedication and commitment to and for the self.


The moment you hear that you need to abstain from doing something is exactly when you go into an overdrive of doing the exact opposite. We become so focussed at not doing something that it becomes a compulsion more than a practise. This is another major reason why even a good resolution which can benefit us in the long run, takes a back seat and eventually gets thrown out the window.


Lastly, the biggest reason why resolutions fail is because we know what they should be, but fail to remember why we formed them in the first place. So it is true that we resolved to eating healthy more often, but we forget why it was important to us. The factor of ‘what’ overshadows the logical reasoning of ‘why’, which is why resolutions fail to see the light of the day. As important as it is to form resolutions it is more important to remind ourselves why we took them on to begin with.


Having said all that, studies have also found that 23% of the people who undertake certain new year’s resolutions do actually make good with them. SO what can you do?


Reel in the Right Resolutions: We know ourselves the best, considering this it’s imperative that we stick by a resolution that benefits us. Make sure you zero in on a resolution which is doable and gives you measurable results. Before impressing anyone else, we need to make sure that we ourselves will be happy with the positive outcomes that our resolution will bring for us.  


Personal Trumps Public: One of the biggest tendencies we have is to follow what everyone else is doing. Just because a major chunk of people resolve to eat healthier, doesn’t mean you need to do the same as well. Choose a resolution for which you feel driven. Any resolution which has no cue that stems from your personal life is definitely going to fizzle out even before the New Year begins. So keep it personal, and something that you can relate to!


Positively Realistic! We all plan big and wish to make the most radical changes in ourselves overnight. Let’s face reality, which is that this almost never happens. It’s good to aim big, but before we plan that aim keep in mind the many hurdles (in this case distractions) you may face. For starters, if you have resolved to save more money, you might just end up by facing a banner claiming ‘Flat 75% off on all Zara merchandise!’  So plan your wish, keeping in mind the barriers or the obstacles that you may face. And you will find yourself better prepared.


So this year go ahead and challenge yourself to stick to your New Year’s resolutions, which are more specific and eventually make you reach your goals. Most importantly, whatever your resolutions maybe, make sure making yourself happy and devoting that time on oneself is right at the top of that list.

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