Some four thousand years ago in Babylonia, the people celebrated the planting of new crops and the beginning of the new year. At the end of the elaborate, 12-day, religious festival Akitu, the people of Mesopotamia would support the existing king or crown a replacement.
This celebration gave birth to what we now know as our annual New Year’s resolutions. The ancient Babylonians made promises, which included paying off debts, fulfilling commitments, and returning objects that had been borrowed.
A combination of both completion and beginning afresh, if you will.
Our collective habit to recommit at the beginning of the New Year has a storied history, steeped in religious rites and our need to experience a fresh beginning.
For a great many of us, this process – okay, let’s just say it out loud here – can be uniquely frustrating. We say, “This year, I’ll: lose weight, exercise more, stop smoking, go to Paris.” Most of us never do, or if we start, by mid-February, well, look, the Krispy Kreme shop is right down the street…
Write It Down!
For those of us who are contemplating making that list for 2019, it bears repeating that when we write our resolutions down, that increases our chances of completing them by 10-fold (Stretch: Unlock the Power of Less – and Achieve More Than You Ever Imagined).
Interestingly, the book points out that the less resources we have – as in our case, perhaps, time – the more creative we can be in achieving our heart’s desires. That’s terrific news.
According to this article in Forbes, fewer than 10 percent of us achieve our resolutions.
Whether your goals are lofty or lower to the earth, the point is to keep our focus on improving. The Forbes article has lots of great strategies for keeping on track, but let’s be clear.
Many of us, who have been around for at least six decades, may not make as many resolutions as we used to, simply because we don’t see the endless acres of time laid out ahead of us.
Some say, “Oh well! I’m too old.”
How old is too old to start over? To finally do what we love?
One of my closest friends, Dr. Janelle Barlow, is 75. She is writing a brand-new book on sales with an international collaboration of contributors. She launched a new website and a new business. She has thrown herself into boxing and aerobics to vary her life-long commitment to swimming.
Truth be told, she launches these endeavors throughout the year. According to Janelle, her biggest problem is that she may not have enough years left to realize the culmination of all her great ideas. That doesn’t stop her one bit. She’s doing what she loves.
My mentor Meg, who died three years ago at 92, had a veritable smorgasbord of projects and business goals. Right up until her death, she was working as though she had decades ahead. She was doing what she loved.
These two mentors of mine are great examples of a well-lived life, late in life.
We Never Stop Growing
There’s no reason to stop challenging ourselves. Each year, I set a BHAG (Big Hairy Ass Goal), which allows me to focus on my fitness and keep me excited.
This year I am off to Indonesia on my 66th birthday. In mid-summer, I will be taking a four-week horse packing trip in Northern British Columbia. I return to Africa for a client in September.
None of these things happened overnight. I didn’t really become a serious athlete until I turned 60. Some of my client work wasn’t possible until I had spent years in adventure travel. Today I’m doing what I love.
Meg taught me to continue to move through life as though I didn’t have a due date.
Permission to Play
In many ways, resolutions are also all about permission. For many women of a certain age, our many other responsibilities trumped our heartfelt desires.
Passages create pathways in ways we can rarely anticipate. If you have lost a parent or a partner, it might now be time to fulfill a long-held dream. Will you give yourself permission?
Rather than worry about our waistlines, perhaps this is the year that we take that art class. Learn yoga. Return to horseback riding. Take that trip to Bali. In other words, do what you love.
As you celebrate the season, how do you think you can celebrate yourself? What will you give yourself permission to do in the time that is left to you? Whether that’s spoiling the grandkids or setting sail in the islands of Indonesia (Come join me at SeaTrekBali.com!), what will you do that you love? Tell us your plans!