by Gwen MacDonell, Marketing and Admissions Coordinator

If you’re like me, and more than half of the American population, each year you attempt the terrifying… New Year Resolution.  Let’s face it, the idea of a brand-new year with a clean slate and new calendar creates feelings of hope, promise, and power.  Then by the end of January most of us are right back in the same boat with unaccomplished goals and broken resolutions.  In the hopes of completing my resolutions this year, I decided to learn more about the history behind it and what makes some people more successful at them than others.

History.com states: “The ancient Babylonians are said to have been the first people to make New Year’s resolutions, some 4,000 years ago. They were also the first to hold recorded celebrations in honor of the new year—though for them the year began not in January but in mid-March, when the crops were planted.”  Can you imagine what kind of resolutions were being made back then? I bet the Babylonians weren’t worried about losing 10 pounds or getting a promotion at work.

Eventually the Romans moved the New Year to January 1 to coincide with their new solar calendar and doing away with the lunar calendar. The Romans would make offerings to the God, Janus, whom January is named after, in the hopes of prosperity in the months to come.  Today while more than half of American’s make at least one New Year resolution, only 8% see their resolution through to the end.  That’s not a very big number.  It’s not because we aren’t all well intentioned or that we are all quitters.  Often, we are just setting goals that are way too difficult to achieve and a little unrealistic.

The most popular resolutions are losing weight, quitting smoking, spending more time with family, and saving money.  These are just too broad and too vague to realistically be an achievable goal.  Experts recommend planning out small steps within shorter time periods in order to be more successful at sticking to it.  Don’t just say “I’m going to lose weight this year” try “I’m going to lose 3 pounds a month”. Don’t just say “I’m going to save money and spend less” try “I’m going to save $5 from each paycheck”. (Then have it direct deposited if you can to help avoid spending temptations) Here is some advice that has been shared with me over the years:

  1. Start small. Make resolutions that you think you can keep and set your goals 3 months at a time. Don’t look at the entire year as your goal, you will feel overwhelmed.
  2. Change one behavior at a time. Unhealthy behaviors develop over the course of time.
  3. Talk about it. Share your experiences with family and friends. (if nothing else it could be a good laugh between you)
  4. Don’t beat yourself up. Perfection is unattainable. If you fail your first 3-month goal, start over and set the same goal for the next 3 months.
  5. Ask for support. Nothing in life can be done alone.

New Year resolutions for seniors can be immensely different and still just as difficult to tackle.  As you brace for your own journey, you may want to reach out to a family member or friend in their older years and ask how you can help them with their goals in 2018.  Some great resolution ideas for seniors can be as simple as:

  1. Resolve to keep in touch with friends.
  2. Resolve to learn something new and find a new way to grow.
  3. Resolve to ask for help when you need it.
  4. Resolve to have realistic expectations of yourself and your caregivers.

Whatever you decide to do, and however successful you are, may 2018 bring you luck, health and happiness throughout the year.

Printed in the Daily Local News, Monday, December 25, 2017

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