Re-Imagining New Year's Resolutions
Making a New Year's resolution is a centuries-old tradition. Historians believe this goal-setting practice started 4,000 years ago with ancient Babylonians. Like them, modern people worldwide make promises to themselves and others on the first day of the New Year, albeit a small percentage.
For example, slightly more than 40% of respondents to an unofficial poll said they planned to make at least one resolution. However, several participants stated their decision to commit to changing something in January resulted from social expectations. At the same time, others declared that they renewed their commitment to creating change every year.
The success of achieving a resolution is dependent on several factors. First would be the ease with which a person can meet their goal. Getting a new milestone on an existing project requires breaking down the desired outcome into smaller goals, which could improve a person's ability to succeed.
Next is taking a "fake it until you make it" approach, which may help a person reach their resolution goal. This American saying suggests that individuals who imitate confidence, competence, and an optimistic mindset, can be successful. Additionally, a Harvard Health report supports this theory: If people believe they can reach their goals, they will.
Lastly, seeing a resolution through its completion can be a lonely task. Therefore, finding an accountability partner is strongly suggested. Keeping one another on track benefits both people, as helping others can help to reduce stress.
How a New Year's Resolution Affects a Person's Well-Being
The custom of New Year's resolutions affects a person's psychological and health well-being. They feel empowered when they succeed. Conversely, if they do not meet their goals as planned, disappointment and self-doubt arise, leading to depression.
Millions of people make resolutions, but less than 15% feel they have reached their goals. Why? A series of studies revealed the "fresh start effect." Researchers explain that temporal landmarks or socially accepted dates motivate people to change their lives.
Model Thinkers report that these landmarks include the start of a new year, month, or week and personal dates such as birthdays or anniversaries. Additional milestones include beginning something new, such as getting married, starting a new job, or school. Although such events are considered positive, stress is inevitable. However, the way a person handles stress affects their well-being.
The "fresh start effect" often causes a person to craft lofty resolutions, such as overcoming struggles with willpower, determination, and ingenuity. However, the likelihood of changing "personality traits" without professional help may result in not achieving the goal. Furthermore, when an individual does not succeed, feelings of failure arise, resulting in health issues, including depression and stress.
A person could bypass the annual tradition of announcing a resolution to avoid adverse health risks. Alternatively, they can choose easier-to-achieve pursuits.
Ideas and Tools for Lower-Stress-Inducing Goals
Create a list of attainable New Year's resolutions for a healthier lifestyle. It should contain tasks that can be done easily. A health reporter for Good Housekeeping explains that focusing on health and well-being does not always mean starting a new diet or exercise routine.
Instead, a person could decide to take charge of their mental health, establish a better sleep routine, or reduce screen time. Another alternative could be reclaiming their space by cleaning out closets and cabinets or organizing the bath or laundry rooms.
Or think about making easy-to-achieve and meaningful resolutions. For example, a person could consider the following ideas:
- Join a club to start a new hobby. The support a club offers will make learning something new fun. Additionally, friendships often begin when a group meets to complete similar tasks.
- Find an interesting Meetup group. Attending in-person or digital get-togethers will help to build a network of like-minded individuals.
- Bring home some indoor plants. Not only will they help improve the air quality, but the presence of plants can lower a person's stress level. In addition, when working around plants, people report improved concentration.
- Find a volunteer position. Becoming a volunteer may be one of the most highly regarded resolutions. A Mayo Clinic article revealed that spending time in service reduces stress and increases relaxed feelings. In addition, volunteers report feeling a sense of meaning and gratefulness, both given and received.
Excellent stress-reducing and rewarding resolution examples include: Volunteering to share lunch with a child at a local grammar school and reading together or mentoring a middle or high school youth.
Make a Resolution to Aid Charities
Another often overlooked resolution is making intentional purchases. It does not cost time or significant life changes and helps others. The goal is to buy needed items from companies that give back to the community.
For example, choosing to buy personal wipes and baby wipes from Simpleaf assists their commitment to contribute to charity groups that fight global social and environmental issues. One percent of annual revenue goes toward agencies that provide every child's basic necessities, meet the critical needs of homeless and at-risk kids, and more.
Shoppers can find thousands of other reputable companies and organizations on the internet. Some of them are Zambeezi, GreenEco Dream, Obakki, Gift of Hope Haiti, Prosperity Candle, The Tote Project, EarthHero, Fazl Socks, Ten Thousand Villages, and Classic T-Shirt Company.
Making and keeping resolutions requires planning. But, ultimately, what matters is people choose the generosity of time and spirit.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware