New Years resolutions for self-defense

Resolutions as a tradition

New Year’s resolutions are a longstanding tradition in America and beyond. Our habit of using Jan. 1 as the starting point for a personal revolution goes back at least 200 years. In fact, the phrase new year resolutions can be seen in an 1813 Boston newspaper. References to resolving to do or be better in the coming year can be found centuries before that with written evidence in the 1600s, and some suggest even the ancient Babylonians did the same.

Promoters of the practice cite the benefit of simply having a stated goal in your daily life, even if you don’t make significant progress by next January. Whether you always look forward to the new year for a self-improvement project or rarely even think about it, this year, consider making a resolution related to your progress on the topic of self-defense. We hope to give you some ideas and convince you to set a goal to work toward. Examples include:

  • Learning a new skill, from shooting to martial arts
  • Working toward a self-defense goal
  • Taking a class

Self-defense ideas

Not everything surrounding self-defense involves violence. In fact, a significant portion of the task of keeping yourself safe has absolutely nothing to do with guns or mace. Remember, the easiest fight to win is one you never get in. Situational awareness is a topic we hear a lot about but rarely see elaborated on. Basically, situational awareness is the phrase used to refer to the practice of paying close attention to your surroundings to avoid being targeted by a criminal. There are some basic things you can learn and look out for in the coming year to help avoid violent encounters.

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Armed and unarmed self-defense are both perishable skills: They don’t keep well if they aren’t regularly practiced, and often, practice, without instruction, can ingrain less than optimal habits. Try resolving to sign up for and attend a class in a relevant self-defense skill like handguns, martial arts, etc. to help you perform at your best when it matters most.

The most obvious, but least discussed, possible ways support self-defense skills are entirely separate from violent encounters. Being physically fit is an important one. It’s more challenging to handle an aggressive assailant if you have difficulty with physical exertion.

Real life vs. ideal life

The most important thing to do when considering self-defense or any other resolution is how to go about it in the most productive manner. Setting goals can be fun, but it should also be realistic. Know your limitations, understand how those relate to your expectations and manage them accordingly.

It won’t do you much good to resolve to attend a jiu-jitsu class five times a week when you work full time, have kids and other familial obligations that would make such a resolution difficult or impossible to stick with. Similarly, resolving to attend a bunch of handgun classes you can’t afford without stressing won’t do you much good. Be sure you’re setting achievable goals within the framework of your existing obligations and finances, and you should increase your chances of meeting them.

Lastly, have fun with your resolutions. Self-defense is a serious topic, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyable. Going to the range or a gym with friends or signing up for a class and learning a new skill can make the process a lot more fun. That enjoyment might be the difference between success and making the same resolution next year. Even if you don’t succeed 100%, making the effort and setting the goal is the first step in changing. Acknowledge the effort you’ve put in rather than focusing on the results you might not have seen, and keep trying. Nobody changes overnight, and every effort means progress.

New Year’s Resolutions FAQ’s

What makes a resolution good varies from person to person, but there are many common ones that involve generally desirable and objectively good goals. Examples include many revolving around self-improvement:

  • Quitting smoking or limiting drinking
  • Losing weight
  • Improving personal relationships

Others include meeting career goals or being happier. Whatever your New Year’s resolution becomes, if you approach it from a place of intention, set goals and work toward them, it can be a tangible benefit for the coming year.

Data collected by YouGov suggests the nearly 1 in 4 Americans making New Year’s resolutions feel more optimistic about better things in the coming year. While making resolutions doesn’t mean you’re suddenly going to become more optimistic, starting the year with a positive outlook and a tangible goal isn’t likely to make you feel worse.

While not everyone succeeds, approach-oriented goals (“I will do” type resolutions) were shown to be significantly more successful than avoidance-oriented goals (“I will not do”).

The tradition isn’t a new one. There may have been people resolving to change themselves in the coming year as far back as ancient Babylon. The current phrasing of “New Year’s resolutions” seems to first appear regularly in the English-speaking world in the early 19th century.

Even then, keeping resolutions was more difficult than making them, but the tradition lives on in people with good intentions today. The symbolism of a new year beginning and the value of something to look forward to at the beginning of winter isn’t hard to imagine as helpful, especially in previous centuries when life was much harder.


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