According to many sources, the origin of making New Year’s resolutions dates back to the Babylonians, who reportedly made promises to the gods in hopes they’d earn good favor in the coming year. Many of these promises involved paying off their debts.
Similarly, Romans started each year by making promises to the god Janus. And supposedly, in the Medieval era, knights took a vow at the end of the Christmas season each year to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry.
I haven’t heard of too many men resolving to be chivalrous, but otherwise I don’t think things have changed much in the past 2000 or so years. As we bid adieu to one year and welcome the next, we still make promises for improvement. We may not be making these promises to various mythological gods, but we are likely still making them to a Higher Power, each other, or ourselves – all in the anticipation of new beginnings and transitions. We cling to our annual chance to start over.
We are either eternally hopeful beings, or just very slow learners. Because every year, the resolutions sound the same. And each year, we have the same odds as to whether or not they will stick. But God love us, we step up to the New Year with the best of intentions.
To save us all some time as we get out the shrimp cocktail and champagne, let’s review the Top 6 Real Woman Resolutions, shall we?
Please repeat after me: I resolve to:
- Eat Better. Whether we want to lose or gain weight, maintain, or just be more heart-healthy by cutting out sugar, fat and carbs, this one regularly tops the charts. We make valiant efforts to lose the Cookie Weight and Holiday Beverage pounds, and eat more salads. But honestly, ladies, there are really only a few among us who actually enjoy eating kale and tofu… (you know who you are, you freaks)…eventually some old habits will come creeping back. So I figure that as long as we stop binging on fudge and eggnog, we’ve made progress.
- Get more exercise. Loosely translated to: Look at my new Fitness Tracker, isn’t it cool! Again, we take great strides (get it? Strides?) to up our exercise ante. Some of us crawl off the couch and start walking. Some of us join the gym that we’ve been avoiding. Some sign up with personal trainers. Some buy new bikes. Others of us vow to just do more, and more often. We have visions of chiseled, stronger bodies in our mirrors. And for a while, we are out there doing. Totally awesome. Until real life schedules and energy levels kick back in, and the lure of strapping on our sneakers fades. Last night I was watching Hollywood Game Night (yes, instead of exercising) and one of the contestants was a woman who said she got up at 3am every day to work out for two hours. Really? Come on…. I bet she eats Kale and Tofu too.
- Simplify. Let’s face it, we are all coming off the end-of-year-holiday-Super-Woman binge and we’re exhausted. Perfect time to take stock of our To Do lists and start to make plans on how we can simplify our lives, cut back, and delegate — anything to make our daily chores and activities easier on our backs and our psyche. As we take down our Christmas trees and clean off our shelves, we make mental plans on what else we can “clean out.” Again, best of intentions. If any of us manage to take just ONE item off our regular list of To Do’s, or cut back on just ONE event or activity, we should consider this resolution a success. Worrying about doing any better than that just causes more stress. Which I believe is the antonym to Simplify.
- Be more Charitable. Especially at this time of year, we remember how fortunate most of us are, and vow to be better about helping others. We try to move our goals of volunteering and contributing from the “some day” bucket list to the “do it now” list. This is fabulous. The trouble comes in choosing who or what to devote our time, efforts or funds to when there are so very many worthy causes. Plus, did you already forget #3 on the list? That’s right, something else must go if we are taking on a new role elsewhere. And you know we aren’t good at that. Good thing you didn’t put that Super Woman cape into storage yet.
- Take Up a New Hobby. Ok, truly, this one goes against #3 in a lot of ways. But I, just like so many of you, see the value in this one and get all excited by something new and shiny. A new way to relieve stress, a new way to express ourselves or get our creative juices flowing. A fresh start at something to break up the monotony of our usual routines. What do we pick and how do we fit it in? Probably wisest if we start small. Rather than signing up for 16 weeks of ballroom dancing lessons, perhaps we should pick up an adult coloring book and see if we can complete one page in a week.
- Quit. Something. We all have something in our lives we want to give up. Smoking, drinking, bitching, staying up late, watching junk tv, over-spending, our jobs, a relationship, texting while driving…there is always something that we should, or could, give up. As long as it makes us healthier and happier, then even baby steps towards this goal are an improvement.
And that brings me to the one final, easy, very achievable resolution. A promise that should be on everyone’s list – not just for us Real Women, but for the men and children in our lives too:
Be Kinder. There is a lot of anger, hatred and fear in the world. For our own survival, that tide has to turn. And soon. Merriam-Webster defines Resolution as “the act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict or problem.” Seems to me that if all of us tried a bit harder to be more compassionate, more supportive, and spread a bit more in the way of kindness, joy and laughter in our worlds, then we might just make some progress toward actually attaining and maintaining one of the most important resolutions of all. Which will take the sting out of failing at some of our others – like losing that Cookie Weight.
Happy New Year.