Saturday, 9 January 2021

A More Des Res for New Year Resolutions

Not every resolution is for every day. 
New Year resolutions (NYRs from now on) have the bad reputation of being discarded before the first month of the year is out. But still we're drawn to making them. I've seen some attempts at taming them by changing the name to 'goals' or 'intentions'. Who are we kidding? After a week, a res by any other name would smell as obsolete.

The forerunners of NYRs, about 4,000 years ago, were the allegiance to the King and promises to the gods in Ancient Babylon during their 12-day NY celebrations in the spring. The Romans continued making promises to the gods when Julius Ceasar changed the NY to January 1st in about 46BCE. Wanting to provide a religious alternative to reveling and getting drunk, English clergyman, John Wesley introduced the Covenant Renewal Service in 1740 (also known as Watch Night Services), to reflect on the past year and make resolutions for the coming one.  

Nowadays we make promises to ourselves. This is not as binding on our psyche as promising our gods. Hence the reported 92% failure rate. Seeing as we're not giving up on NYRs, there has to be a better way of doing it. And now, at last, someone has found it. 

I didn't make this up myself. My blogging friend of 10 years, Emma Martin, who lives on Cyprus, discovered a small switch in mindset, a loophole, an altogether more des res, that increases your chance of success. At least until December - when it could go back to 8%. But you'll have had 365 days of opportunity and many of them in the warmer weather when you're feeling more energised. 

In Talking on Eggshells, Emma explains that NYRs are made on January 1st, in the NY, but you don't have to start all of them straight away. She interprets the concept as things you will start or conquer at some time during the coming year. 

How comforting to know that you can conquer Couch to 5K even if you start in the spring. You can give up eating meat by reducing gradually and have it licked (pun intended) by the end of the year. You can learn a new language or musical intrument without promising yourself to practise for 20 minutes every day. You can even schedule your studies to start at a beginners' summer course in your local college.

The pressure is off folks! This year I will..... means two doughnuts doesn't mean you've failed your diet resolution. One day of watching television all day in your pyjamas doesn't derail any of your good, industrious, healthy, productive, creative, empowering, self-improvement, super-hero resolutions. You just took a day or a week or a month off. Who cares? You have the whole of 2021 to do this thing.   

As someone who takes her NYRs as seriously as the Babylonians and Romans did, this revelation has changed my whole life. I'm stunned that no one has said it before. If we share it, we could help millions of people to do this year what they've never managed to achieve before. (Quick Emma, write the book before anyone else writes it!) 

On behalf of my friend Emma, you're welcome. 

Emma Martin blogs at Talking on Eggshells


  1. We are definitely onto something aren't we! I love the fact you called it a NYR loophole, maybe that's what we should call the book ;)
    Thank you for sharing x

    1. Definitely onto something. But all kudos to you, I'm just the messenger. xxx

  2. I think this is a much kinder and much more realistic approach to Resolutions/Intentions etc. I think we put much too much pressure on ourselves to be perfect every single day of the year - and if we aren't then we've failed. I have some things that I wold like to "accomplish" this year - but a few things can be done now, while locked down in the Winter - and others that can be done in the Summer months or once things have eased up a bit.
    For instance, all week I've managed to stick with my Intermittent Fasting and eating low carb. Today I'm tired and my back hurts a bit so I cut myself some slack and after my fasting time was finished I had a sandwich - it was easy and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It doesn't mean that my intention of eating low carb and losing weight is over - tomorrow I'll be back on track and that is good enough.

    1. I see that you have been practicing this aproach already. You're way ahead of me Margie. But yes, much kinder and realistic. xxx

  3. In had no idea Emma wrote there nowadays, thanks for the pointer. Happy new year Mich x

    1. We both started new blogs recently. 2021 seemed like a good time for a fresh start. So far the year has been more of the same or even worse. But as the Des Res says, the fresh start doesn't have to be now - it can be a bit later in the year. Thanks for commenting. xxx