Intentions from Babylon
Are you reading more articles about becoming a Vegan, taking a break from alcohol, joining a gym than you have all year? Has the idea of creating a list of goals, writing down resolutions, or eliminating current behaviors crossed your mind as we crossed over from 2022 to 2023?
You are not alone.
Like the seasons themselves, January ushers in certain expectations; the days start to grow longer in small increments, the cold and snow are expected, and we reflect on how we want to develop or delete habits in our daily lives. The ritual of ‘New Year Resolutions” is hardly new and while common for Western cultures, it started with the ancient Romans adopting the Babylonian New Year. Returning borrowed farm equipment, repaying debts, knights to be more chivalrous are a few ‘Resolutions.” January was named for the Roman God Janus, the god with two faces; one to look back for reflection and one that looks forward to the future. The evolution of the New Year tradition in America was originally steeped in Protestant values, focusing on work ethic, denying indulgences, and strengthening moral character.
Debauchery in December: Is it a co-incidence that the month of December is one long party with daily festivities, and January begins more somber with paying bills from the year before, taking down the cheerful holiday décor, and bracing for winter storms? It’s the month-long binge that starts on Thanksgiving leading to the literal and figurative ‘diet’ that starts on January 1st.
Does Goal Setting Work? Goal setting is effective. Perhaps it’s the ‘resolution’ label that results in what feels like failure and broken promises when one expects to ‘resolve’ a problem they have on their annual list. It’s a concrete, binary label in an abstract, gray environment. Perhaps ‘intention’ is a better word since change is never as sweeping as we would like. There are formulas for goal setting, and since you may have ‘resolutions’ created already, whittling down the list is as valuable in business settings as it is in your personal life. Keep it simple, keep it focused, and put more energy into less items. It’s about quality over quantity. Too many items are overwhelming, or we end up dabbling in some and feeling crestfallen about the ones that linger, neglected. Consider the changes you want to welcome based on how much better your life will be when they manifest, highlighting not only the choice in the process not something forced or forbidden. Remember it is you that is in control of how you live your life, and it is each day and small achievement that will add up to a major shift. Do not forget to add something fun to do more of, this is not about punishment, it is about the intention to become a healthier more vibrant version of yourself. While we cannot choose what happens, we can decide how we react. Going into 2024, what do you want to have accomplished this year?