Ah, the new year.
A time for reflection and resolutions.
The tradition of making New Year's Resolutions is as old as New Year's celebrations. The Babylonians celebrated New Year's Day more than 4,000 years ago. The New Year was celebrated in March to coincide with spring planting rather than in January.
The new year, no matter when people have celebrated it, has always been a time for looking back to the past, and more importantly, forward to the coming year. It's time to reflect on the changes we want, or often need, if we're to have the motivation to move forward.
The early resolutions were a reflection of the Babylonians' belief that what a person does on the first day of the new year will have an effect throughout the entire year.
It's hard not to get the resolution urge on New Year's Eve. There's that sense of renewal, of rebirth. But when our resolutions are less than reasonable, they are almost inevitably doomed to fail. We set high goals for ourselves, and then wonder why we never attain them.
So, if this is the year you'll keep those New Year's Resolutions, here are a few goal-setting tips to get you started:
- Don't Try Everything at Once -- There's a temptation, with the new year, to run off a list of everything we've ever wanted to change. Don't fall for it! You'll have better luck fulfilling one or two goals than you will with a list of 50. You can always add new resolutions to your list later. Take one thing at a time.
- Word it Carefully -- Let's say your resolution is to relax more in the coming year. Word this carefully. Try not to think of it as "This year I am going to relax." That's a stress-inducer waiting to happen. It forces you into thinking of the resolution as something you must do, not something you want to do. Try to make it sound a little gentler: "This year I'm going to explore different ways of relaxing." It also suggests more of a plan -- you'll fulfill the resolution by experimenting with relaxation techniques. The first resolution sounds as if you're going to force yourself to relax by sheer will power.
- Make a Plan -- Once you know what your resolution is, try to break it down. Nobody accomplishes anything of significance by trying to do it all at once. This doesn't have to be a complicated plan, just brainstorm enough to give you a place to start. For relaxing, you might devise a plan like this:
1) Surf the Internet to find different relaxation techniques.
2) Make a list of all the techniques that interest you.
3) Pick one of these techniques -- meditation, progressive relaxation or self-hypnosis, for instance -- and try one for a month.
4) Try a different technique every month until you find one you like.
- Write it Down -- Write down your resolution and your plan of action. Stick it up on the fridge, in your locker, wherever you know you'll see it. That way you'll have a constant reminder of the resolution.The wording can be changed as time passes and your goal changes.
Several members of the community were contacted and asked to share any resolutions they were making for 2004.
Among those contacted: Fred Carpenter, Payson town manager; Judge Ronnie O. McDaniel, Payson Municipal and Justice Court; Sue Myers, principal of Payson High School; Jan Parsons, manager of the Payson office of Arizona Public Service; and Keith Watson, pastor of the Payson Church of Christ.
Carpenter had resolutions for both the town and himself.
"I want to continue the trend to improving communication with citizens," Carpenter said. "We have made good progress and I want to see us move forward with that."
As part of that resolution, the town is instituting more "e-government" opportunities, he said. This allows residents to make use of the Internet for information from the town and even filing for permits, Carpenter said.
Working on the town's public transit study is another resolution Carpenter has.
"I want to lose weight and keep going to the gym three times a week," Carpenter said, talking about his personal resolutions. "I want to stay in Payson, I really like it here."
He said he will continue his moonlighting as a disc jockey and doing volunteer work.
"I'm really looking forward to the car show in May," Carpenter said. Usually held in June at the Mazatzal Casino, this year, the Rim Country Classic Car Show will be on Main Street May 1, he said.
McDaniel has a special resolution for himself to pursue both in and out of his judicial robes.
"It's not so much of a resolution, but a hope to help more people -- especially children and senior citizens, both in my job and outside of it ... to take the initiative."
He said he has a wish for his family and friends to all be in good health during the coming year.
"And I'd like to do more hunting and fishing in 2004," McDaniel said with a laugh.
Myers' resolution for the high school, "I want all of us at the school -- staff and students -- to continue to challenge ourselves to learn as much as we possibly can, more than we ever believed we could."
For herself, Myers said she would like to see more of the world in 2004.
"I don't make resolutions at New Year's," Parsons said, "I make them when I need them and when I need them is usually after I've waded through a lot of do-do."
Watkins has made a resolution that his family shares -- "We want to try to make a greater difference in the community by becoming more involved over the course of next year," Watkins said. "We want to concentrate on both the young people and the community."