We all know well that New Year’s resolutions usually don’t work. In fact, more than 85 percent of us don’t succeed at them (J. Grenny, Influencer, McGraw Hill, 2007). What you may not know is that this modern-day ritual of seeking change at the New Year can be traced back thousands of years to Janus, a mythical king of early Rome. Janus had been particularly generous to the god Saturn and in reward for this favor was given the ability to see into the past and future. Janus came to symbolize progression, change, and resolution; the first month of the year, January, is named in his honor.
Of course, we can’t see into the future, but our resolutions need not become forgotten things of myth. Some people make too many resolutions, become overwhelmed, and fail at all of them. It’s important to choose just one realistic goal for the New Year, something you know you can attain. Developing a concrete plan can be helpful. Write it down and think through obstacles and how you will overcome them. Next, tell everyone you know about your goal. People who create accountability are much more likely to realize their aspirations. Make sure you reward yourself along the way and don’t beat yourself up over setbacks – just keep at it!
This year can be the year you exercise regularly, quit smoking, get organized, or connect more with your family or friends. The words of Edith Lovejoy Pierce inspire me: “We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.” May you be inspired, too!