New Year…Resolutions…Fresh Start

As we make our way to the start of the New Year, many of us look at this as being a time to celebrate. It’s a holiday of favorite traditions – countdowns, fireworks, champagne and of course resolutions. For many of us, that means making big promises to either do something or to not do something. Regardless of the resolution you commit to, the goal is usually to improve your life in the coming year.

The tradition of New Year’s resolutions dates all the way back to 153 B.C. January is named after Janus, a mythical god of early Rome. Janus had two faces – one looking forward, and one looking backward. On December 31, the Romans imagined Janus looking backward into the old year and forward into the New Year. This became a symbolic time for Romans to make resolutions for the New Year and forgive enemies for troubles in the past. They also believed that if they gave gifts and made promises, they would be blessed in the year ahead. Thus the New Year’s resolution was born!

I believe that when we make a resolution, we are simply making goals with the outcome to improving our situation. I came across an article, “8 Reasons We Really Do Need to Make Resolutions” by Theo Tsaousides, Ph.D. a neuropsychologist and author of the book Brainblocks: Overcoming the Seven Hidden Barriers to Success, that states, making these subtype goals is what our brains want and the only way anything ever gets done.

Here is Theo’s list of 8 reasons why we should make resolutions:

1. It’s how things get done – From quotidian things like getting up for work in the morning to once-in-a-lifetime dreams like seeing the Great Wall of China, things get done because we treat them like goals that need to be accomplished. 

2. It’s the language of the  brain – One of the most important functions of the brain—and the most recent in terms of our evolution—is executive function, a cluster of cognitive abilities that evolved to enable us to set and achieve goals. This brain function is what sets us apart from all other living things. Most other creatures react based on instinct; we take action based on planning.

3. Goals mean clarity – Goals provide you with a vision and a direction. They give you a destination and enable you to plan your course into your future. Without goals you risk wasting your resources (time, money, energy) feeling confused and overwhelmed, and being unprepared when opportunities arise. 

4. Goals give us meaning – Goals give life meaning through purpose. Purpose is the deeper reason for why we want to accomplish a goal. Behind the stated goal (“I want to get a Ph.D. in psychology…”) is our desire to do something to improve our lives and the lives of others (“…so that I can contribute to the fight against mental illness.”). Purpose is what motivates us and moves us to take action.

5. They make us feel good – They literally do. As neuroscientists learn more and more about the emotional circuits of the brain, they are discovering that one of our most basic emotional reactions is happiness through pursuit. Being actively engaged in the pursuit of a goal activates the brain’s pleasure centers, independent of the outcome. It seems that we derive more pleasure from chasing our dreams than from achieving them. Could that overused adage about the journey and the destination have an actual biological substrate?

6. Goals mean progress – In every aspect of human life, we achieve progress through setting goals. Goals are what drive advances in science, education, medicine, public policy, law, and government. Progress in all these fields happens when people set, pursue, and achieve goals. If there are no goals, there is confusion. And confusion can delay or thwart progress. 

7. The alternative is the default – Without suggesting that we should plan out every minute of our lives, think about what your default is: What do you do when you are not working toward getting something done? Is it a productive or enjoyable default? Or is it something that you later regret?

8. Goals keep us connected – Goals keep people connected. Common goals are the foundational block upon which we build communities. From families to sports teams, from small start-ups to large corporations, and from social movements to entire nations, the success of a group depends on how much its members believe in a common goal.”

I realize that my reasons may not be your reasons. What drives me to set goals, on New Year’s Day or any day, may not be what drives you. But as SME Members, I challenge you to make a New Year’s resolution to invite prospective members to our meetings and to tell your story about why you are a member. Our common goal is to support our organization and bring in new members so we can expand and grow in the New Year. Our next Membership Meeting is January 22nd at The Country Club of Sioux Falls from 11:30 to 1pm. Our speaker is Mark Matteson with the topic: It’s About TIME!

I would also like to invite you to join me in welcoming Kacey McCarthy as our new Executive Director of SME on January 22nd from 4:30 to 6:30 PM at Bin 201, 201 E 11th St. Stop in and meet Kacey and wish her well in her new leadership role for SME.

Wishing you a prosperous New Year!

Roxanna McKenna, MBA
President

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.” 

Edith Lovejoy Pierce, Twentieth-century Poet and Pacifist