We all want a better year—or at least one that is as good as the previous one. Despite the best of intentions, most of us will struggle to keep the resolutions we make. Those of us feeling irresolute find it hard to even set those goals. (My last year’s post, How to Gather Momentum for the New Year, can help though.)
People have been making new year’s resolutions for thousands of years. The ancient Babylonians promised to repay debts during a 12-day celebration called Akitu. Only their calendar started in what would now be mid-March, the time that they sowed their crops.
Feeling resolute with the renewal of spring makes sense. That feeling is harder to come by in January when you live in the frozen zones of the northern hemisphere.
For me, it’s doldrum time. Kid(s) going back to school. Paying bills—not just Christmas shopping but that December furnace replacement. Putting away the beautiful Christmas decorations, closing the box on their associated memories and taping it shut.
Even the church piles on the inauspiciousness of the new calendar year. We’re back in ordinary time. The wait for the Christ child is over. We’re not yet in Lent, when we prepare for Holy Week and Easter. Blah time.
Resolutions if you’re irresolute
But there’s no changing when the new year arrives, at least not since Julius Caesar declared it so back in 46 B.C. He established January 1 the official start of the new year, in honor of Janus, “the two-faced god whose spirit inhabited doorways and arches,” condemning those of us in the northern hemisphere to try to feel resolute about the coming of January.
But aside from failing to take northern climates and Christian celebrations into account, Julius might have had the right idea. Perhaps the magic of New Year’s doesn’t lie in resolute resolutions.
The beauty of the new year is looking backwards and forwards. Keeping the good. Eliminating (or minimizing) the bad. Something to jostle us out of our Lazy-Boy chairs.
In other words, the new year is a blank sheet of sorts. A reset. An awakening to new possibilities.
Whether you write down your goals and share them with the world or brainstorm about the possibilities you see for yourself, that restart matters.
 Sarah Pruitt, “The History of New Year Resolutions,” History.com, December 30, 2015, http://www.history.com/news/the-history-of-new-years-resolutions.