New year, new resolutions

It’s a new year and we are in the first month of the year: January 2022. For some, that means trying to meet the goals they have set for themselves in this new year. This might be a resolution to exercise daily or have a better work-life balance. Even for those opposed to the practice of New Year’s resolutions, we have restarted the cycle of the 12 months in the year and the date is now ‘22 instead of ‘21.

Although it’s hard to imagine a time when January wasn’t the first month of the year, we have not been using our current calendar system, the Gregorian calendar, forever. To be exact, this calendar system has been in place for 440 years.

So, why is January the first month of our year?

According to History.com, “[Julius] Caesar instituted January 1 as the first day of the year, partly to honor the month’s namesake: Janus, the Roman god of beginnings.”

While Janus was known for being the Roman “god of beginnings,” he also represented reflection and resolution. Janus was portrayed as having two faces: one facing forward and one facing backwards. The Romans celebrated the new year by offering sacrifices to Janus and making promises of good behavior.

Not everyone makes resolutions for the new year. According to a telephone poll of 1,009 adults in the U.S. conducted by CBS News in December 2021, only 29% of people were planning to make New Year’s resolutions. This percentage was 14% lower than the 43% of adults planning to make resolutions for 2021.

Perhaps this apparent lowered popularity has something to do with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Now that the pandemic has been going strong for almost two years, many people are beginning to wonder if things are ever going to return to “normal.”

Although “traditional” New Year’s resolutions may be dying, plenty of people have goals that they want to accomplish this new year. For college students specifically, the start of a new semester is reason enough to make a resolution or two.

“One of my New Year’s resolutions is definitely to focus more on my grades and my schoolwork,” said Peyton Stokes, junior digital communication major at West Texas A&M University. “I felt like, last semester, I didn’t focus as much. I mean I did pass all my classes with decent grades but I feel like I can do better…”

A new semester, just like a new year, is an opportunity to reflect on the past and look ahead to the future. Every class is an opportunity to try out new study habits, be more focused and, most importantly, to learn.

If we can learn anything from New Year’s resolutions, it is that there is something to say for reflection and starting a cycle anew with the knowledge gained from the past. No one knows exactly what the future holds, but reflecting on the past can help guide us toward a better, more positive tomorrow.

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