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Resolution: Focus on Celebrations

By Michael Kiener PhD, CRC Director of Rehabilitation Counseling Maryville University, Missouri Rehabilitation Association Eastern Chapter, Co-host of the Mentor Moments podcast.


Have you ever wondered the origins of New Year’s resolutions? Or even looked up the definition of resolution? Is there still value in thinking about and proclaiming resolutions? If you have answered yes to the above questions or are at least curious to read on, this post is for you. A resolution is a firm decision to do or not do something. Therefore, a New Year’s resolution is an important goal to accomplish throughout the year.

There is a long religious history dating back over 4,000 years of groups celebrating the new year or other transition periods (celebrating the end of the harvest season) with rituals of paying debts, looking back over the previous year and looking forward for a more prosperous time. For early Christians, it was a time to reflect on past mistakes and recommit to a more spiritual life. In North America, the phrase New Year’s Resolution was first used in a Boston newspaper in 1813 with the intent of asking people to make resolutions focusing on living a “better” life. As the years has progressed, resolutions have focused on topics such as drinking less, exercising more, spending more time with family, and or eating healthier. Although it is common to think about resolutions, less than half of all American make a resolution and less than 10% of those state they are successful in meeting their goals.

If there is are common themes in these traditions, it is a focus on committing to “something” in exchange for a hope for a prosperous future and celebrating ending and new beginnings. An important question remains, is there value in our modern resolutions? Perhaps, looking towards history and focusing resolutions around times of celebration and reflection will reinvigorate a flourishing attitude in the new year.

Here are two things to think about to keep the spirit of resolutions alive!

Focus on new beginnings and finding ways to celebrate throughout the year.

If the first of the year is a motivating factor to make resolutions and reorient your life, why should this only happen once a year. Throughout the year, there are multiple times to celebrate (birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, etc), reflect on accomplishments, and to strive for new goals.

Strive for a goal to better live in the moment, enjoy the here and now, and not to overly focus on making unrealistic goals.

Perhaps, instead of looking for celebrations or holidays, resolve to have a long-term positive outlook each and every day. Start the day with deep breathing, being grateful, or some other activity that grounds you in the present and allows you to have a more positive outlook.

As the year continues, look for additional blog posts centered on celebrating accomplishments, personal reflection, and living in the here and now.


If you are interested in learning more about how to make personal goals read a blog entitled: A Healthier Approach to Resolutions.

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