It’s January again, which also means the close of 2018 has come and a new year is upon us... you know, the obvious.
It is also a time for the familiar tradition of setting out to succeed on your New Year’s resolutions... that is, if you’ve bothered to make one this year.
According to The History Channel, the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions began with the Babylonians as many as 4,000 years ago. The same source states that the Babylonians were also the first to hold recorded celebrations honoring the new year, even though the new year for them did not begin in January, but instead began in mid-March when crops were planted. Perhaps that’s why this celebration holds the same “new beginnings” familiarity we often associate with Easter.
After thousands of years of making resolutions, it seems the tradition is fading.
As a young girl, I recall hearing about everyone’s New Year’s resolutions leading up to January. People would always ask what mine was. Even then, I didn’t used to think too much of it and when asked, I’d just make one up on the spot.
I hear resolutions talked about less and less, aside from their news value in a slow news week following the Christmas holiday. As I listen to my reporter making calls and asking contacts about their resolutions, I have come to the conclusion that if New Year’s resolutions aren’t dead yet, they’re certainly dying.
Many people were doing with her what I used to do even as a young girl, come up with one on the spot. Some had no resolution at all and no interest in suddenly coming up with one.
When asking about resolutions today, out of curiosity, I learned that others set goals they knew they couldn’t fail. I think part of the failure and death of the New Year’s resolution is in the fact that people have a tendency to dream big and get disappointed when they struggle to meet their goals. I’ve heard repeatedly the phrase, “I don’t even make a resolution anymore. I can’t keep it anyway.”
I recall the same difficulty in the recent past years at The Weston Democrat. It’s increasingly more difficult to find answers to the question, “What is your New Year’s resolution?” Even working for other daily papers in my past, regardless if I was the one to write the story or not, I remember a resolution story every year, and the struggle that goes into getting enough responses, and especially, pictures of those who responded.
It just seems that no one is doing them anymore. That, or they just prefer to keep the resolutions to themselves. I believe that if you share your resolution with others, you are now under accountability to not disappoint those you told, which will help you meet your goal as others ask you how you’re doing.
People are letting the fear of failure keep them from making goals at the start of the new year, and at least trying to achieve them.
Don’t be afraid to make a resolution. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. It can be very simple. You don’t even have to let January hog your resolution. You should keep setting personal goals for yourself, regardless of the time of year.
Instead of telling yourself you’re going to lose all that weight and then struggling to manage that goal, think of your resolution instead in terms of micro goals. If you say you want to lose 5 pounds in the month of January, the goal seems much more achievable. You can manage your foods and exercises to achieve a small goal like that, but vow to keep going once you reach it.
If you’re successful with that initial 5 pounds of weight in January, perhaps try for 8 pounds in February, and so on.
I use weight loss as an example because exercise and weight loss used to be a very popular New Year’s resolution.
While I certainly would like to lose weight, as much as anyone else with a few extra pounds or so, I’m making my goal something else this year.
I always keep saying I want to write more and make more art, but I always make excuses to myself for why I can’t. I work a very stressful job and journalism is demanding on a person in ways I just can’t ever explain to someone who hasn’t been in my line of work. Our paper has experienced lots of changes in 2018 and we still have more challenges ahead of us.
This fall, I got a head start on that goal when I started working on a novel I began about five years ago and have worked with off-and-on throughout that time, sparingly, because I never thought I had enough time to do what I needed to. It turns out, the truth was, I just needed a better “outline,” more of a synopsis of each chapter that helps me understand how I need to progress the story from beginning to end. Now that the “hard part” is out of the way, I can begin working on the “harder part,” actually writing. I’m about five chapters in, and with the synopsis, I can move to any chapter in the book to write if I get stuck where I’m at.
The fictional story follows three protagonists going through various struggles in life. A single father of a 6-year-old boy struggles to move on after the death of his wife to cancer. A young, wealthy girl who inherited her father’s million-dollar company at the age of 17, struggles with the fact that she is the last survivor of a tragic house fire that she wouldn’t have survived if she hadn’t sneaked out to see a boy. A young artist living in her parent’s attic at the age of 25 struggles with the reality that she might have to do something other than art just to make ends meet. Their lives collide in unexpected ways throughout the novel, but don’t be worried about a cliche love triangle trope. It’s a tale of romance, mystery, tragedy, family and friendship.
In addition to the novel, I started drawing and painting more frequently when I took on a task that demands completion. I’m illustrating a children’s book. “Professor Theodore J. Honeydew in Spice City” is the first book in a series of books written by Alderson Broaddus University professor Daniel Propst that follow two feline protagonists. So far, the plan is for me to illustrate the entire series.
Feline Grey’s life and reality is thrown asunder when her people bring home a brand new cat who is quite the character. Theodore, the self-proclaimed professor, seems be living in his own reality. He quickly makes Grey his assistant, whether she likes it or not, and insists she come on his adventures. The first stop is Spice City, an otherwise completely ordinary location in the home Grey thought she knew everything about. She is reluctant to join him, but in doing so, finds herself in a brand new world.
I have spent a few months drawing these feline characters in their settings throughout the book, and I’m only about half of the way finished. It’s been a fun and challenging task, and I’m excited to complete this project. I can’t wait for the first book to be finished, and I hope I can take on other illustration projects in the future, but for the time being, this project is enough for me. I need to finish this first project and see if branching out into others is something I truly want to do, but I’m already leaning on “yes” as the answer to that.
I’ve had two other possible projects from two other children’s book authors open up as potential projects for me already, just by starting the Professor Honeydew series.
I always thought I was too busy to keep up with all my hobbies, and I let myself think my way out of doing the things I loved. Just in the month of December, I completed three paintings and a woodburning, and I failed to complete one painting I planned to do.
These were side projects that weren’t associated with the book, and they were all given away as Christmas gifts. I managed to do this while holding down a full-time job in journalism and struggling with other dilemma’s going on in my life. If I can work my primary job as a news editor, work on a novel, illustrate a children’s book, and deal with all the other stuff life has been throwing at me, I can meet my New Year’s resolution.
I am thrilled to say sayonara to 2018 and all the junk it threw at me and my family, and I’m hoping for a better 2019, in all aspects. In year’s like these I like to reflect on a poem I first read in fifth grade, one that has stuck with me my entire life. Luckily, it’s in the public domain, so I can share it with you below:
We never know how high we are (1176)
Emily Dickinson, 1830 - 1886
We never know how high we are
Till we are called to rise;
And then, if we are true to plan,
Our statures touch the skies—
The Heroism we recite
Would be a daily thing,
Did not ourselves the Cubits warp
For fear to be a King—
Don’t let fear hold you back from truly living and becoming better than you are today. You never know where you are in life until you have to rise out of your own comfort zone and challenge yourself to be better.
I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and has a great 2019.