New Year – New Beginnings

new year new beginnings

New year is a time of excitement for many as we embrace the new year coming in, letting go of the old year and whatever that encompassed. 2023 was a difficult year for many, but with a new year beginning there is some hope and excitement for what 2024 will hold. Have you any plans, did you set New Year resolutions?

New Year resolutions come with a depth and sense of positivity. We set out with full intention, commitment and excitement to achieve our personal goals, be it to lose weight, go to the gym several times a week, move house or see friends more often. Do you usually fulfil your resolutions, or are you like many full of vim and vigour in the first 1-2 months and then with life’s pressure it all falls apart, leaving you feeling demotivated, annoyed or even angry at yourself and perhaps even despondent as the resolution that you have just given up on has been the same for the last 2 or 3 years?

What is the Origin of New Year Resolutions?

In 2000 B.C., the Babylonians celebrated the New Year during a 12-day festival called Akitu. This was the start of the farming season with the planting of crops, the time to crown their king, and make promises to pay their debts. One common resolution was the returning of borrowed farm equipment to its rightful owner.

Later the ancient Romans adopted the Babylonian New Year together with the tradition of resolutions. Eventually, in 46 B.C. the timing shifted with the Julian calendar, declaring January 1st as the start of a new year.

January was named after the two-faced Roman god, Janus as he looks forward for new beginnings while also looking backward for reflection and resolution. The Romans traditionally offered sacrifices to Janus and made promises of good behaviour in the year ahead.

Medieval knights in the Middle Ages also made New Year resolutions by placing their hands on a peacock to renew their vows to chivalry. The annual “Peacock Vow” would take place at the end of the year, as a resolution to maintain their knightly values.

By the 17th century, New Year’s resolutions were common and continue to the present day with a difference in the type of resolutions that we make. Resolutions in the early 1900s were more religious or spiritual in nature and often restraining in some way. For example, to develop a stronger work ethic, place more restraint on earthly pleasures and so on. Whereas now, resolutions have moved away from denying physical indulgences to actions around self-improvement, such as losing weight, exercising more, quitting smoking, learning a language, and so on.

If wanting to improve your health in 2024 think about setting resolutions around things that excite you. When something is attractive, pleasurable and exciting it is easier to fulfil. Coupled with this set goals that are accomplished over a longer period of time, giving yourself less pressure to achieve them within the first few months. This makes you goal more manageable and hence achievable, therefore less likely to fail. In setting your goals around health and wellbeing think about your whole being and include actions around mental, physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. For example:

  • Type of exercise and movement you choose. Choose the type of exercise/movement that excites you, not only addressing physical wellness, but emotional also; dance, walking, swimming, Zumba, Pilates, tennis, bowls etc.
  • Digestive and overall health – Think about what you eat, when you eat and how you eat. Increase fresh vegetables and fruit in your daily meal regime by choosing those that you really enjoy and look forward to eating. If you are a snacker, switch to snacking on raw vegetables, nuts and seeds rather than biscuits, chocolate and sweets. Sit down to meals away from your computer or TV, rather than eating on the run. Be mindful while you eat and chew food fully, hence supporting the emotional aspect as well as the nutritional aspect of the necessity to eat.
  • Increase the variety of foods you eat so that you don't get bored and then start snacking on empty foods.
  • Stimulate your immune system on a daily basis by introducing dry skin brushing into your bath/shower regime to help the body detox more effectively, follow this with a hot and cold shower to energise and invigorate and if you are feeling really brave, cold-water swimming.
  • Hydrate your body by drinking water or herbal tea in place of caffeine-based drinks. Keep a glass of water on your desk to sip on throughout the day. Add a slice of fresh lemon, orange or cucumber to provide some flavour.
  • Let go of perfection by being kind and compassionate with yourself, learning from your mistakes, rather than beating yourself up when things don't go well, thus harbouring a “treasure” chest of undesirable emotions that at some point will either manifest on the physical level or release itself in some kind of explosive manner.
  • Express gratitude every day through journaling, verbalising your gratitude and giving positive feedback to yourself and others. Such actions help manage negative emotions positively while also creating a habit to focus on the positives, however difficult life might get.

Why is it that so many of us give up on our resolutions very early on? Here are some tips to help you be successful in fulfilling your resolutions.

5 Tips to Make New Year Resolutions Successful

  1. Word your resolution positively as opposed to negatively. For example, instead of “I want to stop eating sugary foods” to “I want to eat fresh, non-processed foods in at least one meal a day.” To support the achievement of this, you might share photos of what you are eating on your Facebook or Instagram page. If you slip off your desired goal, acknowledge it and go back to your plan without feeling angry or guilty at yourself. By allowing yourself some sweet foods, but introducing fresh foods daily, you are more likely to remain positive, feel good about yourself while taking steps toward achieving your goal. 
  2. Keep it simple. Avoid being over ambitious, as you are setting yourself up to fail. Stick to one or two goals and do something every day however small, that brings you closer to achieving those goals. 
  3. Make sure your goals are SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic  and time-bound. Stating I want to do something interesting this year, is too vague. Decide beforehand what areas of interest you have and include these into your goal. For example, “To create “ME” time once a week, by either enrolling in dance classes or a class where I can learn to paint, attending at least 90% of the scheduled classes.” 
  4. Share your goals with others. By sharing with others you are enrolling the interest of those close to you and by doing this, someone to share your wins with, which will encourage you to keep going. Keep track of your progress in a notebook, journal or specific app, detailing how you feel and however small, what you have achieved. You might want to enrol a friend to join you in your quest to get more exercise, lose weight, take “me” time etc. This way you can support and encourage each other.
  5. If you slip up, don’t beat yourself up. Do reflect on your plan if slip-ups become a regular occurrence. Perhaps it is too ambitious? If you planned to walk 5 kilometres a day, 5 days a week, scale it back to 3 days or 3 kilometres and put the days you plan walk into your daily schedule so that you get into a routine. Create a routine around when you walk, for example walking first thing in the morning or getting off the bus one or two stops early and walking the rest of the way to the office, class, shop etc. Once in a routine it is something you will naturally begin to look forward to, making it a habit, something that you always do, and what’s more enjoy doing.

As with Janus, the two-face god, look forward while reflecting and looking backward at what you have achieved. If your goals turn out to be too ambitious, resolve the situation by scaling back rather than giving up. Give yourself permission to celebrate small wins along the way rather than focusing on what you expected or wanted to achieve at a particular point. Remember you are human and that is what makes each one of us unique.

Happy New Year Everyone. Best wishes, success in fulfilling your dreams and creating  abundance in your life.



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