By Mike Watkins | Friday, January 3, 2020
Swimmers see great value in setting goals each year. It’s what drives them toward greater athletic achievement.
But have you ever wondered how people started making resolutions – an annual form of goal-setting – at New Year’s?
According to history.com, the ancient Babylonians were the first people to make New Year’s resolutions 4,000 years ago.
They were also the first to hold recorded celebrations in honor of the new year – though for them, the year began not in January but in mid-March when the crops were planted.
During a massive 12-day religious festival known as Akit, they made promises to the gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed – the forerunners to our New Year’s resolutions.
If the Babylonians kept to their word, their (pagan) gods would bestow favor on them for the coming year. If not, they would fall out of the gods’ favor – a place no one wanted to be.
For early Christians, the first day of the new year became the traditional occasion for thinking about one’s past mistakes and resolving to do and be better in the future.
Despite the tradition’s religious roots, New Year’s resolutions today are mostly secular. Instead of making promises to the gods, most people make resolutions only to themselves and focus purely on self-improvement.
According to recent research, while as many as 45 percent of Americans say they usually make New Year’s resolutions, only 8 percent are successful in achieving them. The most frequently made resolutions involve health and fitness, finances and personal development and improvement.
Whether or not you take the time to make and write out your resolutions – or goals – each New Year’s, the following are a few for 2020 – an Olympic year, to boot – from swimmers and coaches outlining what they want to accomplish this year.
“My resolution is to be in the present moment as much as possible. To focus my attention, carefully observe and really listen so that I may fully appreciate those precious everyday moments that add up to extraordinary life experiences. Happy New Year!”
“My New Year’s resolution for 2020 is to find something to be grateful for every single day and to read 34 books (1 more than last year!). Happy New Year!”
“My New Year’s resolution for 2020 is to make the 2020 U.S. Olympic team. I am willing to make the necessary lifestyle changes in order to do so by more meal prepping and applying myself in the weight room. This year, I also want to put myself out there more and try new hobbies. Yoga and reading are two hobbies I would like to focus on more this year.”
“My New Year’s resolution for 2020 is to improve on my recovery and nutrition as I continue to give my all in the pool, in the classroom and in life.”
“This story gave me more accountability to write my goals today. Here are a few of mine that could be helpful to some:
1. Log a daily highlight and conviction (from practice and from the day)
2. Create a daily to-do list
3. Learn something new from a book + log it in a journal
4. Read more than 10 pages of a novel daily
I also have a word of the year: “faith.”
“I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions. However, something I do want to work on this year is to stay genuinely me. A lot of changes will happen in my life this year, and throughout them all, I just want to stay true to myself and make sure I’m giving myself the time/energy needed for the self-care etc. to do so!”