CFAES Give Today
OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

December 30, 2016 - 4:18pm --

Whether it’s losing a few of the pounds you put on during the holidays, keeping a tidier house, yelling at your kids less or getting control of your finances, we all feel the need to reflect on the previous year and promise ourselves to “do better” in 2017. 

We have all done it.  We have the best of intentions and somehow by March, it’s over.  No sooner has the ball dropped; you have fallen off the wagon!  We forget the excitement and commitment we felt on January 1st.  Really, is it even worth it?  Why make all the fuss and then feel guilty because you quit going to the gym because it is dark at 4:30 pm, or because of the two feet of snow, or maybe your kids really did make you mad!  Are New Year’s Resolutions ever achievable?  Maybe the real question we should ask ourselves is, “where can I find JOY in the New Year?”

This doesn’t mean that you don’t need to watch your weight, your money or your temper.  However, looking for the JOY in a year-long commitment seems like a much more achievable (and important) feat than becoming independently wealthy.

The idea of New Year’s Resolutions date back thousands of years when ancient people crowned new kings, shared gifts with the hope of a prosperous year or renewed commitments to their leaders, each other and God.  Different cultures celebrate their “New Year” at various times.  Some cultures celebrate in March around election of officials, while others celebrate in the fall around harvest.  Today, there are a variety of uncoordinated New Year celebrations throughout the world. 

Fewer Americans are making the commitment of a New Year’s Resolution (about 45%) and even less are successful in keeping them (only about 8%).  However, if you are still determined to make (and keep) a New Year’s Resolution, why not begin with something that makes you feel JOY?

Food has traditionally been the center for many New Year’s customs.  Adopt a piece of Chinese culture by eating long noodles on New Year’s Day, which represent a long life.  Other customs include eating greens or cabbage which signifies money.  The Dutch believe eating donuts is good luck (hard to argue with donuts)!  In Mexico, eating a grape at each stroke of the midnight clock will bring prosperity!

If you are going to cut spending, skip the material objects and splurge on making memories.  Opt for the family vacation over the new car, if possible.  Rather than eating out, recruit a lunch buddy to brown bag with a few days a week.   I have had some great conversations over homemade lunches!

Getting active doesn’t have to take place in a gym.  A guy in my neighborhood walks around each week dragging everyone’s empty garbage cans from the curb to their garage.  He must walk at least a mile around the entire neighborhood.  I assure you, we have JOY in our hearts for him!

You know the effort that goes into developing a new relationship?  You are on your best behavior.  You do “little things” for one another.  You give more than you take.  Redevelop those relationships as if they were new to you.  Take time to let whoever you love know you love them.  Your children, your parents, your spouse…they will all benefit from your JOY.

Whatever custom or commitment you decide to adopt this January 1, make it something that makes you and the world a better place.  Don’t waste a minute of 2017 feeling guilty about what you didn’t do.  Instead, go and find your JOY!  You have an entire year to decide what it is!

News Release provided by Heather Reister, FCS Educator.