In the Suburbs / We can held accountable for our resolutions

We’ve packed on the pounds during the holiday, maybe overdone the drinking at a friend’s holiday party, been nasty or snappy with our family or our kids, haven’t worked as hard as we should have and the list goes on and on. But at the stroke of midnight this past New Year’s Eve or the next morning when our morning hangover cleared, a majority of us professed our regrets in the form of the annual resolutions to do better in 2018.

Many of the lists are long and tedious and nearly impossible to achieve, but we make them anyway. And sadly, as I learned from a short piece i read in the Connecticut Post on January 1st, most of our sincere resolutions will be abandoned by Jan. 8 or before.

I didn’t make many resolutions this year, but I am determined to make good on them. I intend to continue going to Weightwatchers and gradually lose those last 10 pounds. to lose. I want to spend even more time with our grandson Lucas, I plan to pay off remaining debts so I can sleep better at night and I plan to fill out teaching applications during the next three months. I believe all of these resolutions are realistic and manageable.

According to a brief piece by Stephanie Pappas, a contributor to Live Science Magazine, and her colleague, Laura Geggel, who is a senior writer for the publication, “This year, 44 percent of respondents in a national survey said they planned to make resolutions for 2018, according to a Poll, run by the Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. The most popular resolutions were ‘be a better person” (12 percent of respondents) and to lose weight (also 12 percent). Exercising more, eating healthier and getting a better job had a three-way tie with 9 percent each.”

The findings from that poll seemed very realistic to me and I would certainly agree with exercising more and eating healthier¸which are certainly in line with my Weightwatchers goals.

While I have never made a big deal out of professing my resolutions, I wondered how far back this ritual goes. Like any tradition, there had to be a history. So I searched a little and found a couple of sources.

For instance, the authors of the Live Science piece pointed out that “People hoping to slim down or move up the corporate ladder may not realize it, but they are engaging in a tradition that has has ancient origins. Bronze age people also practiced the fine art of New Year’s resolutions, though their oaths were external, rather than internally focused.

“More than 4,000 years ago, the ancient Babylonians celebrated the New Year not in January, but in March, when the spring harvest came in. The festival, called Akitu, lasted 12 days, according to Top 10 Creation Myths. “After Rome became an empire in 27 B.C., New Year’s Day became a time for city leaders and soldiers to swear an oath of loyalty to the emperor.”

The Live Science writers pointed out that .as Romans gradually became less warlike, they became more house and home oriented and would bring each other gifts for a sweet year. That tradition was really similar to our celebration of Rosh Hashannah, the Jewish New Year, when we usher in the holiday with sweet wine, challah, apples and honey to ask for a sweet year.

These days, most resolutions focus on self improvement and greater kindness to family and friends and a stronger desire to give back to others. I asked one of my colleagues this week, Elaine, about her resolutions. She explained that she wanted to keep things simple. Her resolutions included doing more writing, getting out more for public speaking opportunities and focusing even more on family.

In another study I read about from, “The most common reason for participants failing their New Years’ resolutions was setting themselves unrealistic goals (35 percent), while 33 percent didn’t keep track of their progress and a further 23 percent forgot about it. About one in 10 respondents claimed they made too many resolutions.”

A research study by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol made the point that men, in particular achieved their resolutions 22 percent more often when they actually set goals like the loss of a pound a week instead of just wanted to lose weight.

The bottom line for me this year is that making my resolutions has been valuable, but I want to hold myself accountable for fulfilling them. I don’t want to be one of those statistics who have abandoned my resolutions after a week or a month.

Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his “In the Suburbs” appears each Friday. He can be reached at