I gave up writing New Year’s resolutions long ago. I can’t remember a time when I met my extensive list of self-improvement goals. I always ended up feeling disappointed in myself for a few days around the end of January, then forgetting about the goals completely. I’m sure I set my expectations too high, having been an over-achiever and routinely hard on myself anyway. Setting unattainable goals is not a good idea for someone who has suffered from depression and anxiety. It tends to increase the symptoms when you perceive yourself as a failure.
So, instead, I resolved not to wait until the end of the year to assess myself. I resolved to set shorter, realistic goals and practice daily reflection in order to keep aligned with them. Sometimes my goal for the day may be as simple as making a business phone call I dread. In my worst days in times past, my goal for the day may have been simply arising and driving my son to and from school.
So whose idea was this fantastical scheme to set annual goals, anyway? According to The Washington Post, the tradition of setting New Year’s resolutions began during the reign of Julius Caesar. Caesar set January as the beginning of the New Year, basing this on the Roman God Janus. Janus appeared as a figure with two faces: one looking forward and one looking back. Because Janus was the guardian of arches, gates, doors, beginnings and endings, the Roman people began setting resolutions at this time of renewal, this time of opening a new “door.” Their resolutions were of a moral nature, such as being kind to others.
Okay, so it was an admirable idea after all. But I will need to shorten the time frame from a year to a month, or a week, or even a day sometimes. My long-term goals will have several shorter sections to accomplish first. The important thing is to focus on bettering ourselves no matter what the timeframe. As we enter the New Year, Happy Resolution Writing and remember - the best resolutions are the small ones, as these are much more likely to create your success.