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These past two years have been challenging for many so it’s understandable as we approach the end of this year, why anyone would be eager to turn the page and start fresh. And for many, making New Year’s resolutions is an important part of leaving the past behind and beginning anew.

Some people make a big deal about their New Year’s resolutions. They’ll post them on social media or bring them up frequently in conversations. Oddly, research has shown that most people don’t do very well on keeping their resolutions, yet every year, the ritual echoes in the thoughts of millions. What is it about the first day of the year that beckons many to repeat this ritual? What makes January first different from any other day of the year?

Day one

The first historical record of any culture celebrating the New Year occurred in Babylon approximately 4,000 years ago. The new moon after the vernal equinox was the day arbitrarily chosen to host this occasion. Nearly 2,000 years later, Julius Caesar, with the help of astronomers and mathematicians, introduced the Julian Calendar that proclaimed the first day of January to be the start of the calendar year.

While astrologists and numerologists may disagree, it is largely tradition that bestows January first with the title of the first day of the calendar year. There is no equinox or solstice giving significance to this day, nor is there any heavenly alignment that would deem it worthy of this designation. In fact, countries like China, Israel, Iran, and India celebrate a different day as the beginning of their calendar year.

Regardless of which day we choose to begin anew, it is still a good idea to use that day as a reminder to evaluate the previous year and set goals for the upcoming one. Becoming the best version of ourselves demands it. No one can simply stumble their way to a better self. Our journey needs a purpose, a direction, and it works best when we ourselves determine that course.

At times, we may want assistance or inspiration because as much as we’d like to believe in our own strength, not all of us are born with the drive and discipline to overcome all the barriers along our journey.

Coaches or trainers now specialize in defined areas that provide accountability as well as brilliant techniques designed to help you achieve your goals. Typically, the time one invests into personal development will manifest by achieving those goals more quickly and assuredly. Keep in mind no matter whom you’ve chosen to help you reach your objectives, you are always in control of your destiny. Don’t allow them to manipulate you by using guilt or belittling you. You must have full and complete confidence in anyone you select as a coach or counselor.

According to market data, the self-help industry in 2016 was worth $9.9 billion in the US alone. This year it’s predicted to reach $13.2 billion. The focus on personal development began in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Books like Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich” have been read by millions. Since then, the industry has continued to flourish and in 2019, and there were over 85,000 unique ISBN numbers given for published books focusing on personal development and self-help.

But what has all the growth of this industry really accomplished? With all its successes, it would dictate that thousands, if not millions, of people were becoming more self-aware, mindful, and expanding their individual potential while at the same time, creating better communities and a safer world.

I, myself, tend to be a glass-half-full kind of person but as hard as I try, I’m not seeing many results on a larger, global scale whatsoever. What evidence is there that humanity is showing more kindness and developing a deeper sense of concern for each other? Are the lawmakers and politicians demonstrating more concern and integrity? Are those who have traditionally been denied hope of opportunity now being provided better prospects?

New Year’s resolution

Perhaps it’s time we rethink the idea of a New Year’s resolution and instead, make it a New Year’s Revolution. It’s time to rebel against the notion that personal development is proportionally connected to monetary gain. That personal development is important for everyone and not just those who are able to pay top dollar for their services. That measuring integrity and strength of character are indicators of success, and coaches themselves should never be gage their own accomplishments by the size of their bank accounts.

There’s no reason why New Year’s resolution can’t make this world a better place. Let us embrace our fellow humankind rather than trod them underfoot. For what good is personal development when the world around us is divisive, judgmental, and distrustful? What has been accomplished if the self-help industry keeps increasing exponentially while the human race slips further into disarray, hopeless and hate?

This revolution calls for the resolve of many. For all of us to do our part not only in attaining our own goals but inspiring and encouraging others, especially those who have been neglected or victimized, to become their best versions of themselves. If the expansion of self-help industry does not also cause transformation on a global scale, then perhaps it ought to be relabeled the “Self-centered Industry” and is no longer different from any other large corporation that doesn’t care about its employees, takes advantages of its customers, and pillages the world of its natural resources.

Let us all, especially those of us whose profession is to help others begin anew, include in our New Year’s resolutions to do our part in making this world a better place for everyone and especially the future generations.

My thanks to Sebastian Davenport-Handley on Unsplash for the wonderful picture and I look forward to your comments.

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