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NYE 2012: Making Your Resolution Count

Posted on: December 28th, 2012 by Sarah Ellis

As 2012 comes to a close, I wanted to bring a little history of the “New Year” to you as we start 2013 at YAFCA with a blast! We have quite a few plans for the upcoming year and a hearty New Year’s resolution to help the community in many ways.

Did you know, the earliest recorded New Year’s celebrations date back about 4000 years in Babylon? Babylonians believed that the New Year began in late March when there was equal amounts of daylight and darkness. New Year’s celebrations were primarily for political purpose; new kings were crowned or the symbolic renewal of the ruler’s divine purpose.

It wasn’t until 46 B.C. that the calendar most widely used today was developed by the Roman Emperor, Julius Caesar. His calendar named “Julian” was created with the help of the best astronomers and mathematicians during that time. Emperor Caesar decided that 1 January would be the first day of the year in honor of the Roman god of beginnings, Janus. Sacrifices were  given to Janus for his good favor, people would exchange gifts and houses were decorated with laurel.

Christian leaders in Medieval Europe, replaced the significance of the New Year holiday with increased emphasis on Christmas celebrated on December 25 and the Catholic Feast of the Annunciation on March 25, which is 9 months from Christmas and believed to be the day when the Virgin Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel, who told her that she would be the mother of Jesus, Son of God.

In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII re-established the significance of New Year’s Day among the Catholic world.

In today’s world, there are many different ways that people celebrate New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, including symbolistic foods, parades, songs, parties, fireworks, and New Year’s Resolutions among other traditions.

In Spain, eating 12 grapes after the clock hits midnight gives hope for the months ahead, legumes, black-eyed peas (Southern USA) and lentils (Italy) are symbolic of monetary coins and financial success. Consuming pork is considered to improve progress and prosperity in Cuba, Austria, Hungary, Portugal and a few other countries. Ring-shaped cakes and pastries in the Netherlands, Greece, and Mexico are used to show that the year has come “full circle”. Sweden and Norway have a rice pudding with a hidden almond in it.  It is said that whoever finds the almond will have 12 months of good fortune.

Songs like “Auld Lang Syne” have been sung for many years, but wasn’t regarded as “The New Year’s song” until played by Guy Lombardo, a Canadian bandleader who adopted the song for his annual New Year’s Eve radio and television broadcasts in the United States.

New Year’s resolutions have changed significantly in the past century. In the early 1900s a young lady would have said that her resolution was to be a better worker, more helpful, less self-centered and to improve one’s character. Lately, people are more concerned with improving body image, health, diet, finances, career options, and education.  A study in 2007 conducted at the University of Bristol by Richard Wisemen asked 3000 individuals, men and women, if they made New Year’s resolutions to find out success rates, failure rates, and how to make resolutions that are reasonable and sustainable.  They found that 88% of the individuals that set goals failed, and 22% of men achieved their goal when they used specific goal setting techniques. For example, instead of using the general goal “volunteer more”, set the goal to volunteer at least 2 hours per week and list some volunteer opportunities that interest you. They also found that when women publicly announce their goals and receive support from friends that 10% more of them are able to make their goal(s) a success.

At YAFCA, our 2013 New Year’s resolution is to partner with 10 additional nonprofits, and to secure 10 local businesses to sponsor our own nonprofit with good-faith donations. Our plan for reaching this goal is a minimum of one new contact per week, consistently. As you can see, we are really underestimating here! One of our “success” tactics that we have learned in the past year is that it’s best to set realistic goals! Better to find you are easily reaching a goal, and then increase, than to begin by falling short of a goal that is so high it is unrealistic right out of the gate. So be sure to set your goals wisely!

Another tactic you will find helpful is writing your goal down. Written goals should be approximately one paragraph, and contain your plans for short term, and long term progress. For example – Figure out what you need to accomplish each month to reach your annual goal. So for us that is a minimum of one new business and nonprofit on the books each month. Keep your “goal statement” somewhere you’ll see it often – reading it aloud will give you an edge, too!

So, what are your plans for 2013? Leave us some info in the comments, and we’ll be sure to keep tabs throughout the year to see how it’s coming!