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Reflections! It's resolution time again!

It's resolution time again!
By William L. Bulla

Every New Years we celebrate the passing of the old year and make resolutions of what we plan to change for the year ahead. Then several weeks later we are slipping away from those resolutions and sliding back to the condition in which we spent the last year. Our intentions were great but our executions of those goals lack a great deal. So what happens next?
At New Years we have the chance for a clean slate. By simply turning a calendar page we have a fresh opportunity to break bad habits and make improvements in our life. While the making of New Year's resolutions is an annual tradition, the breaking of New Year's resolutions is almost as common. They have become somewhat synonymous with "making promises you don't intend to keep" and "setting unrealistic goals." This New Years most people will make a great number of resolutions. They will examine their accomplishments and shortcomings, and decide how they will make things better in the year ahead. These will be things they want to do, goals they would like to achieve. But most likely by February or March, they will have forgotten about these resolutions, which they made with the best intentions on New Years Day!
Resolutions can be a very helpful tool, but you have to approach them in a smart way. I don't know about you, but each year I feel guilty because I have broken resolutions I made in great earnest at New Years. Perhaps the mistake I have made is that I have set too many goals. Or perhaps the goals I have set are too lofty for me to reach. Or, too vague to accomplish. To accomplish our resolutions we must set goals that are practical. Resolutions that can't be measured are doomed to fail before you even begin them. Instead of saying "I want to lose weight this year," set a goal to lose "X" number of pounds. Perhaps, you may even set a month and day as your goal to accomplish it.
The tradition of the New Year's Resolutions goes all the way back to 153 B.C. The Romans named the first month of the year after Janus, the god of beginnings and the guardian of doors and entrances. He was always depicted with two faces, one on the front of his head and one on the back. Thus he could look backward and forward at the same time. At midnight on December 31, the Romans imagined Janus looking back at the old year and forward to the new.
Today we depict the old year as an aged man with long white beard being replaced by a small child representing the New Year. People gather around their televisions to watch the celebration in New York City's Time Square and at the stroke of midnight, kiss their companion. This custom of kissing at midnight was derived from masked balls that have been common throughout history. As tradition has it, the masks symbolize evil spirits from the old year and the kiss is the purification into the New Year. But, whatever way you celebrate New Years, if you make resolutions you should do so in a way that will help you keep them. So as you hear the song "Auld Lang Syne" being played to celebrate the New Year make resolutions of what you plan to change ahead. Make them realistically. Use the knowledge of New Years past with failed resolutions to help create a plan for success. Start the New Year with a truly clean slate. Happy New Year!

William L. Bulla is a freelance writer residing in Washington County.

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