January is the first month of the year in both the Julian and Gregorian calendars. The first day of the month is known as New Year's Day. And, on average, it's the coldest month of the year within most of the Northern Hemisphere.
The name January has its beginnings in Roman mythology, coming from the Latin word for door (ianua) – January is the door to the year. January is named after Janus, the god of the doorway.
Although March was originally the first month in the old Roman Calendar, January became the first month of the calendar year under Numa about 450 BC.
Historical names for January include its original Roman designation, Ianuarius, the Saxon term Wulf-monath (wolf month) and Charlemagne's designation Wintarmanoth (winter/cold month).
The first of January is not only the door to the new year, it's also a time when people make resolutions. Resolutions are new commitments an individual makes to a personal goal, project, the reforming of a habit, or a lifestyle change someone sets out to accomplish during year.
Popular resolutions usually revolve around self-improvements, such as losing weight, attitude changes, reducing stress, quitting smoking, etc. Other commitments include improving ones financial situation, career advancements, going back to school, being more independent, give more time to charities, become more environmentally responsible, or perhaps something as simple as watching less television or getting a hair cut or new style.
While success rates are low, it's important to recognize the efforts people make to better themselves and the environment around them. By and large, people have a desire to be the best they can be, and the change in a calendar year is the most popular time for people to set new goals in their lives, to make changes, and inspire others to be better in themselves and their outlooks.
I'm not much of a traditionalist when it comes to New Year's Resolutions. I believe that if one wants to make a change, there's no reason to wait until the first of January to do so . . . or the start of a new week or month. If one wants to change, just do it.
Resolutions and commitments are too easy to fail at when one loses the energy and drive to continue for so long. Let's face it, 365 days is a long time. Give me a goal to meet within a week -- no problem. But the whole year? It's too easy to say, I'll start again tomorrow. With that kind of thought, it's easy to fail. It becomes a game with the finishing line too far away.
With failure comes disappointment, and the pendulum can swing too far back in the other direction. Trying to lose 20 pounds but only succeed in 10? It's too easy to start picking up those cookies again. You might find you gain back that 10 and another 10 on top of it! People who don't take commitement seriously will laugh it off and say, "But really, I only gained 10 pounds." No you didn't. You lost 10 pounds then gained 20 back.
For myself, rather than resolutions, I set annual to-do lists. Call them goals, commitments or resolutions, but to me the items on the list are things I'd like to achieve, but I'm not going to berate myself if they don't all get done.
Some of the things on my 2011 To-Do List include:
-- Getting the rest of my Irish Pride series contracted for publication - Any publishers or agents out there reading this? I'd love to send you a partial. Just email me if you're interested!
-- Work on my WIP, The Diary, a bit more often if I want it published before April 2014 - 2014 is the 1000 year commemoration of the Battle of Clontarf in Dublin, the time period in which my story is set.
-- Give back within the industry - This includes writing more articles and helping aspiring authors through sites like Ask A Published Author.
-- Improve my work space - I've already started working on my own self-improvement by investing in a new notebook computer so I'm not tied to my desk all day. But if I have to be, I got myself a brilliant new chair and I'm making my writing space more writer friendly and less utilitarian. And I'm hoping to keep it tidier than in the past. No more piles if I can help it.
-- Get out more - If all this is starting to sound too much about work, it's not. I love the research end of writing so I'm taking more trips to locations I'm currently writing about. OK, living in Ireland and writing stories set here is a bit of a luxury. I know it and take full advantage of it. Staring out the car window as we drive through the countryside is research for me. Wandering through castles is research, too. And a lot of fun. AND a lot of exercise. Trust me on this one. It's not easy walking up those tight spiral stairs. They're higher than you think.
Notice I didn't list my tasks numerically or alphabetically? Doing that makes the whole process sound like a game, or puts one object on a higher priority status than another. They're equally important, and as I said above, this is not a game.
I'm also an avid knitter and crocheter so I have some projects planned for the year as well. My problem with this is I tend to put the cart before the horse. Meaning, I'll buy some yarn because it's so 'must have', but I don't have a pattern to go with it. That means my stash and my projects are a bit willy-nilly. As with my writing, my crafts have also gotten some clarity. Especially in this economy. If I want a yarn, I must have a pattern for it. While knitting for the sake of keeping my fingers busy in front of the tellie is fine, the finished garment must have a home. So I'll be going through my FO (finished object) stash and will start re-homing a few things! Or at least wear what I make, for goodness sake. I'm also making an effort to use some of the yarn in my stash.
Resolutions need not be just about the New Year. Sometimes our lives just need a bit of tidying . . . like Spring Cleaning. Yep, that's around the corner too. Start now. Don't wait for Spring to come. Be ready for it.
So, what are some of the resolutions, commitments, goals or things on your 2011 To-Do List?
Happy New Year everyone!!