“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”Alan Lakein
A new year is exciting. The new year holds the promise of hope, fresh starts, new adventures, and oftentimes, new goals (aka resolutions). The advent of a new year got me thinking to my own life and a growing business. I’ve never been one to make New Year’s resolutions. I think this is because early in life I would get swept up in others declaring their resolutions and they usually sounded like such great goals that I thought I’d take a crack at it. I’d declare one or more resolutions when asked with almost no thought and absolutely no plan of how to accomplish these goals. Honestly, today I couldn’t tell you even one of these from my past. Invariably, I would forget about my resolutions a week later (or less). This of course was a reflection of my entire life where my decisions were not so much heading toward something but just grabbing onto an idea that sounded good at the time. The next New Years I couldn’t remember the previous resolutions and I’d set another resolution, while feeling a little “less than” about my ability to accomplish last year’s goals. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. It was probably the same resolution as the year before since I hadn’t done a thing to accomplish this goal. You’re probably right. After a few years of this I realized I had no intention or plan of how I was going to accomplish these resolutions so I quit setting myself up for failure and gave the whole thing up.
I was curious about the origin of resolutions and did a little research. It looks like the hoopla around the new year goes back to the Babylonians and Romans as you can read below from History.com:
The ancient Babylonians are said to have been the first people to make New Year’s resolutions, some 4,000 years ago. They were also the first to hold recorded celebrations in honor of the new year—though for them the year began not in January but in mid-March, when the crops were planted. During a massive 12-day religious festival known as Akitu, the Babylonians crowned a new king or reaffirmed their loyalty to the reigning king. They also made promises to the gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed. These promises could be considered the forerunners of our New Year’s resolutions. If the Babylonians kept to their word, their (pagan) gods would bestow favor on them for the coming year. If not, they would fall out of the gods’ favor—a place no one wanted to be.
A similar practice occurred in ancient Rome, after the reform-minded emperor Julius Caesar tinkered with the calendar and established January 1 as the beginning of the new year circa 46 B.C. Named for Janus, the two-faced god whose spirit inhabited doorways and arches, January had special significance for the Romans. Believing that Janus symbolically looked backwards into the previous year and ahead into the future, the Romans offered sacrifices to the deity and made promises of good conduct for the coming year.
Christians tried to redirect the rowdy goings-on in the 1700’s:
For early Christians, the first day of the new year became the traditional occasion for thinking about one’s past mistakes and resolving to do and be better in the future. In 1740, the English clergyman John Wesley, founder of Methodism, created the Covenant Renewal Service, most commonly held on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. Also known as known as watch night services, they included readings from Scriptures and hymn singing, and served as a spiritual alternative to the raucous celebrations normally held to celebrate the coming of the new year. Now popular within evangelical Protestant churches, especially African-American denominations and congregations, watch night services held on New Year’s Eve are often spent praying and making resolutions for the coming year.
Resolution #4: To “Save more, spend less” sounds easy, but as we know this is easier said than done. You have to know what your budget is to know if you’re spending less. How much less? You can’t just say, “We’re going to spend 25% less on groceries.” How? Coupons? (This takes organizing, let me tell you.) This is where getting your finances organized is important. The other side of this equation directly impacted by disorganization is buying things you already have. It happens all the time. Who knows where that scissors went? Better buy another one. Only to find it three months later in a pile of laundry. Wasted money.
Resolution #5: To “Spend more time with family and friends” is really another version of the first resolution in my opinion. Most of the fun things we do, we do with friends and family. So spending more time with them, is really the “enjoying life” resolution. Most people (with the exception of Professional Organizers) don’t want to spend their free time organizing. However, it is a necessary part of life that we need to accept, like doing the laundry. If we get organized, we really only need to tweak existing systems as we go along. Maintenance mode takes far less time.
So the moral of the story is, if we don’t get organized, we create more problems, waste more time, spend more money and WE create hassles that didn’t need to exist. Whoops, there goes our peace of mind. We’re shooting ourselves in the foot. Conversely, if we get organized, our resolutions and dreams can be pursued and achieved. Make THIS strategy the base you build your 2017 goals upon and you will not be disappointed when 2018 rolls around. Now go get organized!
In my research, I’ve come to learn that it’s not just me who’s suffered failed resolutions year after year. Over and over I heard what History.com acknowledged, “Though it’s a pretty well documented fact that most New Year’s resolutions fail...” How discouraging. Why do we keep this up? It doesn’t seem like a good idea to start off the new year assuming we’ll fail at our goals.
Fast forward 20 some years and I have decided to jump back in. However, I do not accept that I will fail. I have realized the wisdom of the saying, “if you don’t know where you’re going, how are you going to get there?”
At the time of writing this blog in early December (I can’t do everything during the holidays), the most popular 2017 resolutions were not out. I would imagine next year’s list will be somewhat similar (unless it has some political resolution like ousting the president after the rocky election cycle we just had). According to Gobanking.com, the top five New Year’s Resolutions of last year (2016) were the following:
I’m assuming this is a decent cross-section of Americans who stated these resolutions, which leaves me wondering, how did we do? The truth is we can say we want to ‘Enjoy life to the fullest’, but by the end of the year, how do we know if we accomplished this? What did we do differently? What does that REALLY mean?
Resolution #3: To “Lose weight” several things need to be in sync to succeed. Your meal-planning, a “clean” kitchen (e.g. no junk food), shopping, support systems, and schedule need to be supporting this goal. This requires some organizing. Regular life is fast-paced enough, but now you’ve just added something that touches multiple areas. No small order. For example, being organized to buy the food you need, when you need it, but not too much or you’ll waste money (it will go bad). Not having the right foods on hand sets you up to “fall off the wagon”.
I really believe for many people there is ONE KEY to successfully follow through on your resolutions. I also have some other thoughts on how to accomplish your resolutions but that is for another day….maybe another career in coaching. :)
The key is (drumroll please) getting organized. I’m sure you’re not surprised hearing this from me, but stick with me and I’ll prove it. Look back at Americans 2016 goals. Yes, really, reread them please. As I was reviewing this list, I realized how connected organizing is to these resolutions.
Below is a quick list with just a FEW benefits of being organized:
So if you match these benefits with the resolutions, you’ll see where I’m going with this. Follow along as I match up the benefits with the resolutions.
Resolution #1: “Enjoy life to the fullest” is extremely vague and open to interpretation so you’ll need to give me a lot of leeway here as this is clearly my interpretations on what folks meant. “Enjoying life” assumes that you spend more time than not on enjoyable activities. Most of us tip the balance the other way. So that means for the folks responding to this survey, the “have to” list outweighs the “want to” list of activities. When your space, paperwork, and schedule are organized, you are not chaotic or panicked. You are purposeful and centered. You can ADD more enjoyable activities because you are in control of your life and schedule.
Resolution #2: To “live a healthier lifestyle” is again vague and open to interpretation. Some things that come to mind include: quitting smoking, meditating, increasing or starting a workout program, getting more sleep, eliminating caffeine, or ending an unhealthy relationship….the list goes on and on. These are new habits. In order to create new habits, we must have the energy and focus to work on this. Being cluttered and overwhelmed can set us up to fail here. It’s putting the cart before the horse. When you get organized, your life at “baseline” works better, smoother. Your mind is able to learn new skills and habits so you’re able to tackle those health concerns with a realistic plans.