Welcome to 2021: Traditions from around the world, realistic resolutions, and strategies to stay on track

Another new year has started, and everyone is hoping it is much different, for the better, than the last. As we beacon in another trip around the sun, I thought it would be fun to look at traditions in other countries, realistic resolutions, and strategies to help make this year the best yet. Information in this blog came from 9 New Year’s Traditions From Cultures Around The World, 18 New Year’s Resolutions You Can Actually Keep, and Top 10 Most Common New Year’s Resolutions (and How to Follow Through on Them).

New Year Traditions in Other Countries

Common traditions throughout the United States include singing “Auld Lang Syne” to greet the New Year and eating black-eyed peas for good luck. Around the world, cultures welcome the change of the calendar with unique New Year’s traditions of their own. Here are some of our favorite New Year’s traditions around the world.

Brazil: In Brazil, as well as other Central and South America countries like Ecuador, Bolivia, and Venezuela, it is thought to be lucky to wear special underwear on New Year’s Eve. The most popular colors are red, thought to bring love in the New Year, and yellow, thought to bring money.

Colombia: In hopes of a travel-filled new year, residents of Colombia carry empty suitcases around the block.

Denmark: Residents of Denmark greet the New Year by throwing old plates and glasses against the doors of family and friends to banish bad spirits. They also stand on chairs and jump off them together at midnight to “leap” into January in hopes of good luck.

Finland: In Finland, people predict the coming year by casting molten tin into a container of water, then interpreting the shape the metal takes after hardening. A heart or ring means a wedding, while a ship predicts travel, and a pig declares there will be plenty of food.

Greece: An onion is traditionally hung on the front door of homes on New Year’s Even in Greece as a symbol of rebirth in the New Year. On New Year’s Day, parents wake their children by tapping them on the head with the onion.

Realistic Resolutions

It has been a hard year for all of us, so we get that you might be tempted to throw the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions this year. We know you have seen all those resolution lists before, losing weight, working out every day, and other sincere intentions to do your best to make new healthy habits. Those tend to make you feel overwhelmed, and by January 20th, you are ready to get back to the same old, same old. But change does not have to come all at once. Why not subscribe to the motto, “Progress, not perfection” this year and pursue a few goals in small steps. What follows is a list of resolutions that are not rocket science, but can work within your busy lifestyle, create more freedom, stimulate creativity, and ultimately cultivate connection with those you love and the community around you.

Write snail mail. Start this goal simply by sending a few letters over a couple of months.  If you are enjoying sending letters and postcards to people, think beyond family and friends, and rather than compliment your favorite company, author, magazine, actor, or local hero for the work they are doing, write a quick note to share your appreciation.

Try something new each month. Spice up your new year by setting a goal to try something new each month. If you are a foodie, it could be a new restaurant, recipe, or ingredient. If you tend to get stuck in a rut, maybe changing up your route to work or changing up your hairstyle could be one of the new things you try.

Support local restaurants. After an especially tough year for the restaurant industry, it is now more important than ever to support your favorite local spots. Try to purchase directly from the restaurant as much as possible, because a lot of second- and third-party delivery apps take a large cut of the profits that make a big dent for smaller family-owned restaurants.

Start meal planning with just one meal a week. It takes a while to get the hang of meal planning and find the right rhythm for you and your lifestyle. So, this year, rather than try to overhaul every meal, try to meal plan just one.

Stay in touch. If there is one thing 2020 has shown us, it is that there is no excuse not to stay in touch with those we love. With so many ways to connect, from text, to email, to Zoom and MarcoPolo, to a good old-fashioned phone call, there are so many ways to get in touch. Go into this with a goal of connecting with 1-3 people per week. Start small and be consistent. Try zeroing in on a different family member and friend each week and get creative with how you connect.

Strategies to Stay on Track

Every year, millions of people make New Year’s resolutions, hoping to spark positive change. The recurring themes each year include a more active approach to health and fitness, improved finances, and learning new things for personal and professional development. Despite the best of intentions, once the glow of a fresh new year wears off, many people struggle to make good on their plans. If you want to realize your New Year’s resolution this year, follow these 10 steps (briefly overviewed here but more in depth in the source article):

  1. Mentally prepare for change. Changing ingrained habits is no easy task, so before diving head-first into your New Year goals, it is important to take a step back and get ready for that impending change.
  2. Set a goal that motivates you. You would be surprised how often people set goals that are not for themselves. These goals could be dictated or coerced by a manager, spouse, or parental / peer pressure.
  3. Limit resolutions to a manageable amount. A common mistake in resolution setting is having too many and spreading yourself too thin. We all want to learn 25 different languages, 15 new job skills, and eliminate 5 bad habits, but we are not superheroes. We only have so much attention span we can dedicate to self-improvement, so having too many resolutions is a great way not to achieve the many goals you have set out for yourself.
  4. Be specific. When it comes to setting resolutions, it is easy to set bad goals that could lead to poor follow through. Fortunately, SMART goal setting framework can help you craft better goals. (SMART= Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely.)
  5. Break up big goals into smaller goals. A lot of us tend to be over eager and grandiose when it comes to resolutions. We have the best of intentions and may accidentally take on a goal that is too big to achieve. Thus, it is helpful to divide a big goal into smaller goals that are more achievable.
  6. Write down your goals. While it is great to have goals, it is critical to document them in some way. The source article provides six reasons to write down your goals.
  7. Share your resolutions with others. It is great to make a resolution for yourself and maybe even write it down, but if no one else knows about it, it is easy to forget about or even ignore. And when you do not achieve it, no one will notice or care.
  8. Automate where possible. Nowadays there are a million different apps and services to help you follow through on your resolutions. Some of the free options include Google Calendar, Google Now, Reminders (on IOS), and Boomerang for Gmail.
  9. Review your resolutions regularly. Let us face it, if you are not thinking about your resolution regularly, you are not going to follow through. Thus, a crucial part of realizing your goal is a regular review.
  10. If you fall off track, get back on quick. Setbacks can happen, but so long as they are handled correctly, they will not impact the big goal. The key is to avoid a defeatist attitude at all costs, i.e. “Well, I screwed up once, why should I even try to do this anymore.”

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