Do you give a list of New Year's resolutions a go every January? I can't say that I've made a regular habit of the process; knowing full well that by the second week of January, my good intentions would be long lost on my habits, good or bad. And the 25 pounds I pledged to lose was safely well-positioned around my mid-section for another year!
But I am taking a closer look today and might well consider a renewed effort to set and achieve a goal before we get too far into the new year we call 2017. Please come along as I think this one through.
Some credit the Babylonians as the first people to make New Year's resolutions, some 4,000 years ago. Reportedly they were also the first to have celebrations in honor of the new year -- though theirs was not in January but instead in mid-March, when they planted their crops, thus the symbolism of the new crop year. The Babylonians seemed content to make promises to the gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed. If true to their word, they believed that their (pagan) gods would show them favor for the coming year. After all, who wants to be 'out of favor'?
I wonder how true to their promises they were, given the challenges of their times and geography? So what really are resolutions?
The word 'resolution' has roots to Latin's 'resolvere', meaning to loosen or release with a primary definition as a 'firm decision to do or not do something'. The words of ‘resolve’ and ‘resolute’ have related meanings to make a firm decision or to decide or express by formal vote and being firm or determined or unwavering, respectively.
In my 'past life' as a management employee with Associated Milk Producers, Inc., I had the good fortune of close working relations with our regional and corporate cooperative resolutions committees. This gave me the 'up close and personal' experience of witnessing dairy farmers expressing issues and concerns that they considered to be a problem and then state their 'solution'; be it a change in cooperative policy or encouragement for action by a state legislature, the US Congress or perhaps the USDA or respective state department of agriculture.
After discussion by the local resolutions group; drafting and editing a couple of "whereas" clauses in capturing the essence of the 'problem' or 'issue challenge' and later adding a 'be it resolved' solution and you had a nice resolution. And once we'd combined what we did in this process in Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin, we'd share them on with our other regions; and though dairy farmers don't necessarily have any more or less challenges than other citizens or active groups; it was not uncommon to amass well over a hundred resolutions for discussion and action by delegates at the cooperative's annual meeting each March.
In my re-visit to resolutions this year, I invite you to some deeper thinking as we develop our 2017 New Year's Resolutions. In your mind, or better yet as words written down on paper or positioned in your electronic device, list a couple of 'whereas' statements to truly capture the present situation. Perhaps an example will make this become more real. Let's go back to my personal challenge:
Whereas, long and healthy living has long been proven to be more achievable by humans maintaining their daily weight and personal exercise habits; and
Whereas, it's reported that 68.8% of Americans are overweight or obese; and
Whereas, more than one-third, 35.7% of adults are considered obese; and
Whereas, 74% of men are considered to be overweight; and
Whereas, less than one-half, or 49.2% of American adults met physical activity guidelines; and
Whereas, only 20.8% of American adults meet BOTH aerobic physical and muscle strengthening activities; and
Whereas, less than 30% of Americans meet the measurable characteristics that reduce a person's risk of heart disease; and
Whereas, one in four U.S. deaths are caused by heart disease; and
Whereas, the six top factors that people at increased risk for heart disease include: smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, family history of heart problems, and obesity; and
Whereas, I am tired of the seemingly permanent paunch that has taken over the front yard of my very personal being;
Now Therefore, be it resolved, that a conscious effort to include a four part program to combine: 1) a healthy eating plan; 2) effort to be more physically active; 3) conscious attention to watching my weight; and 4) an active effort to learn the warning signs of heart attack and stroke, known as a 'F.A.S.T.' method that stands for: Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty and Time to call 9-1-1.
So what do you think of my outlined resolution process? I believe it does build a stronger case than my former futile efforts that stated, at best, a passive interest in losing 25 pounds. Now, I encourage you to construct your own 2017 resolution process. You can do it as you watch me pushing myself away from the table just a little quicker in 2017 and maybe being a bit more ‘resolute’ on walking or other exercise each week; especially at this time of year when it’s just easier to be less active.
My second wish is for you to achieve success in whatever you 'resolve' to do in 2017! Happy New Year!