Keeping Your Promises in the New Year

I’ve found that it’s easy to set new intentions but more difficult to hold true to them as January fades into I-don’t-care-uary. Why is that we’re more overwhelmed with optimism and determination at the onset of the new year than any other time? Even the ancient Romans acknowledged the significance of this month by naming it after Janus, the God of new beginnings and transitions. In Latin, January translates to Ianuarius which is derived from the Latin word ianua, which means door. And ultimately, we have to be the ones to choose to open those doors and trust that what’s to come is worth moving forward for. I read somewhere that we choose to either step back into safety or forward into growth. And with this growth, it’s important to retain our positive intentions and remind ourselves to acknowledge happiness.

Researchers have found that the likelihood of achieving goals is increased by 33% when it’s shared with other people and increased by 72% if money is wagered. This makes sense right? Humans do better when they’re held accountable and even better when they’ve invested in what they want. An Australian website, Promise or Pay, is combining goal setting with charitable donation. The whole thing is pretty simple. You make your promise, put money on it, and then get support from friends. So if for some reason your goal of eating kale everyday falls through, you donate the money you wagered to your selected charity. And if you do succeed, you can encourage others to donate. It’s a win-win all around!

For all you DIY crafty people out there, I’ve found an easy way to collect all the happy memories of 2015. Happiness jars are taking happiness journals to another level. I’ve committed to making one myself. Starting January 1st, I started writing down something that made me happy that day on a little piece of paper and putting it in the jar. These notes could be peaceful moments, things to be grateful for, bouts of laughter, accomplished goals, moments worth freezing in time, or moments that remind you that humans are beautiful. Fill the jar with one note per day and date them if you want. On December 31st, open the jar and read through all the beauty that 2015 brought to you. Decorate your jar with friends and make the happiness jar project a January 1st tradition.

happiness jar

What better way to check in on your goals and hold true to your promises than writing a letter to your future self? An app called To Me by Me is making this possible. You write your letter and choose a date to receive it in the future. You can even choose to add a photograph or a voicemail to your letter. Remind yourself 1 year from now what your younger self had intended to do. Your letter will be sent back to your phone through the app so maybe don’t send the letter to 10-year-older-self that has since broken their phone. We’re human people, broken iPhones are now a part of life. Maybe remind yourself in a couple years that younger self didn’t sweat the small stuff and made time to take care of themselves.

I hope that you do look for new doors to open this year and that you choose to move forward, and if you do look back, it is only done so with a smile. Here’s to memories and people we’ll cherish that we have yet to experience.

Katie Reed

Katie Reed is a yoga instructor who lives in the small mountain town of Flagstaff, Arizona. She advocates for sustainable agriculture through her yoga classes and explores ways to lessen her footprint on our planet. As a human, as a soul, Katie seeks to find the beauty in all things and asks others to join her as she explores happiness, health, and life.

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