Champagne? Sparkling cider? Check. Reservations or party plans? Check. Appropriate outfit? Check. List of New Year’s resolutions? Ch…er, uh…wait a minute.

The story is probably apocryphal about the office football-pool organizer who once took bets on which staffer would last the longest before breaking every resolution on his or her list. But the point of the story is valid, even if the story itself is fable. It seems that resolutions are made to be broken, at least to judge by the usual results.

Do the same old resolutions pop up on your list year after year? Typical resolutions might include:

     • Lose 15 pounds

     • Quit smoking

     • Eat better

     • Exercise regularly

     • Call Mother more often

     • Be more patient.

Or maybe your list reads differently…or maybe you don’t even bother anymore, knowing how effective such resolutions aren’t.

Have I got a suggestion for you!

New Year’s is a time when we say, “Out with the old year; in with the new.” How about “Out with the old habits,” as well? Do you have a few habits, traits, or practices that you feel you’d be better off without? How about staging a ceremony with your family or friends in which you symbolically cast away those undesirable attributes? Symbolism and ceremony can be powerful, and they can help reinforce your good intentions.

Gather the family around a table. You may want to start by making a few impromptu comments about how, as the old year ends and the new year starts, it’s a good time to divest yourself of traits and practices you’d each be better off without. Now pile some small pieces of paper (or index cards) in the middle of the table, along with a pen or pencil for every participant.

Ask everyone to write down a few of the traits or habits they’d like to put an end to. These might include such items as eating junk food, smoking, eating too much, gossiping, laziness, stubbornness, procrastination, messiness, being disrespectful, or lying. Each person should write each item on a separate piece of paper. Don’t try to list every single fault, flaw, or area in which there’s room for improvement. Concentrate on just a few—the ones you feel are most important, or the ones you feel you have the best chance of conquering.

When everyone’s finished writing. each participant reads his or her undesirable traits aloud one at a time, and then—out with the old!—after reading each one, he or she tears up the paper it’s written on. Symbolically you’re getting rid of the trait as you tear up the paper.

When everyone has finished reading and tearing, pass around a wastebasket and let each participant cast out the scraps of paper—hopefully all that remain of that bad habit. Or…if you have a fireplace, light it, and make the symbolism even greater by carefully tossing the paper scraps onto the fire.

Is this a guaranteed method for overcoming undesirable traits and habits? Of course not! Will symbolism alone serve to instantly “cure” people of their flaws and foibles? Of course not! You’ll each have to work at maintaining your resolve.

But can symbolism help? Yes it can. Can ceremony help? Yes it can. Can performing this ritual help give you a better start toward shedding bad habits, traits, and practices? Yes it can.

 

Is it worth a try? Well, the price is right…and so is the goal.

Out with the old!