Friday, January 18, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

Did you make a New Year's Resolution this year? Do you know the origin of the resolution? How many people do you think actually keep their resolutions?

It is estimated that about 40 - 50% of Americans make a resoulution each New Year's. And of that number, about 20 % keep their resoultions and the remaining 80 % drop them only to make the same commitment sometime later in life. Popular resolutions include: Losing weight, exercising more, and giving up habits like drinking and smoking.

So where did this tradition come from? Well as best as I can tell, the origin centers around a mythical king of early Rome named Janus. Somewhere around 153 B.C. this mythical king of early Rome was placed at the beginning of the calendar. Janus had two heads, one facing forward and one facing backwards, and could look back into the past and forward into the future. The Romans imagined Janus looking back on the old year and forward into the new year. The Romans eventually started looking for forgiveness from their enemies at the end of the year and started a tradition of exchanging gifts at this time. These practices eventually evolved into the practice of formulating a resolution at the beginning of the new year based on Janus looking backward and then into the future. Janus, the god of beginnings and the guardian of doors and entrances would remain a constant figure at the beginning of the calendar and would endure several changes as Christians changed the beginning of the year to December 25 (commemorating the birth of Jesus) and then to March 25, and then back again to January 1 st. By the way - note Janus > January.

Roman bust of Janus at the Vatican

Personally, I've never been much of a New Year's resolution maker. While I do admire those who take this opportunity to set a goal and go for it, I've taken a different approach. Very similar to Janus. Once a year generally around this time, I take a few minutes to reflect on my life and review where I stand relative to my life goals. I kind of look back on the past year. The ups and downs, good and bad. I look forward into the future and set a few goals. I seem to be better off and more consistent when I actually write them down versus only making a mental note.
So today, as I look at the calendar and note that it is January 18. I know that some of you are struggling with the resolutions you made only 18 days ago. (Like perhaps El Di Pablo who Blogs My Fat Ass) You're maybe thinking about giving up and going back to your old ways. To you, I offer my encouragement and good will. I hope that you will have the strength to stay the course and achieve your goals..... Hang in there! You only have about 11 1/2 more months to go before you can make a new one!
Good Luck


El Di Pablo said...

Thanks a lot for the "link love"!

-Paul (aka El DI Pablo)

intrepidideas said...

No problem Paul.... See you around!