Keeping New Year Resolutions
“Please give me another small cup of vanilla ice-cream,” Zama waves to the attendant after dropping her second ice-cream cup into the waste bin.
“Another cup? This is your third order. You don’t mind the sugar?” I ask her, surprised at her request.
“I love ice cream. I can’t survive without it,” she says, smiling. I should know that, anyway. The manner she scooped the last cup attests to it.
It’s January 1, 2018, and I’ve come to catch fun here at the Sea Point swimming pool to mark the first day of the year. I’ve been seated here for only twenty minutes when Zama’s impressive ice-cream consumption rate brought us together.
“What’s your 2018 resolution?” I ask her.
“The only thing I wish for, in the whole year, is to lose weight.”
Considering her plump looks, it does sound like a good idea. But seeing the way she’s starting the year, asking for multiple cups of ice-cream on the first day of her resolution, shows that she has started on the wrong foot already. If she doesn’t watch it, she might not achieve her aim till the year runs out.
A New Year resolution is a plan people make towards the end of the passing year, or at the beginning of a new one. A whole lot can happen in one year. A person’s life can change overnight just from the decisions he makes at the beginning of the year. But we have to make realistic resolutions if we decide to make one at all. Also, acting on them is key.
New Year resolutions are as diverse as the people who make them. While some make simple and achievable plans, others make weird ones. It’s not uncommon to hear people talking about ‘getting married’ or ‘becoming more patient’ or ‘becoming a better person.’
If your resolution is so big like: ‘I want to solve all my problems this year.’ Well, that’s a humongous plan that may not get implemented simply because it’s too big and unspecific. Are you talking about financial problems or educational problems? Family problems or personal problems? Environmental problems or work-related problems. Such a resolution is not realistic, and therefore, unachievable.
People forget that a resolution is not a wish. It’s supposed to be a plan made towards achieving something. And so, it must be achievable and precise. It must also be a plan that we can act on, committing resources, within a given time.
If one is not achieving a plan in a whole year, then one isn’t committed to it enough. Not committing to a plan may arise from lack of belief in one’s ability when making the plan, which may have cropped up because of failure to achieve it in previous years. If you set your mind to achieving something and commit resources to it, you will definitely get it done.
Zama says she wants to lose weight, and she begins to eat tons of ice-cream on the first day of the year. She isn’t serious about her resolution and definitely doesn’t believe in her ability to achieve it. ‘I want to lose weight this year’ isn’t good enough a resolution; ‘I want to lose 10kg this year’ sounds better.
When someone makes a resolution, he must act on it. He must come up with a schedule on what to do to, how to do it, what is required, and how to measure progress towards achieving the goal.
Another reason people find it hard to stick to their resolutions is that they are thinkers and not doers. They excel in making plans, but when it comes to acting on their plans, they shy away.
Being in a hurry is another reason people miss their resolutions. A lady, who says she wants to get married in 2018 and a suitor doesn’t show up in the first three months of the year, might lose hope. But then, her resolution isn’t really a plan because it depended on another person. What if she even finds a man a week after she made the plan, but they both end up going their separate ways after two months, on realising that they are incompatible? Resolutions shouldn’t be dependent on someone else. Otherwise, it becomes New Year miracle.
Some people become hard on themselves by making resolutions that affect their habits. A habit developed over twenty years will definitely take some time to clear off. Such won’t go away overnight, so the person has to be patient.
If Zama will change her ice-cream eating habit, she might start by reducing the number of cups from eight in one day to four; and then to two, until her body gets used to her new style. Trying to keep away from it overnight will be a punishment. The day the craving comes, she might order the entire stock KFC has to offer.
A resolution becomes easy to keep when you are able to measure your progress. A guy who promises to quit smoking will stick to his plan if he observes that he has reduced his daily consumption from twenty sticks to fifteen.
Many believe it’s easier to stick to resolutions when you involve your friends and family. A lady will remind her husband of his New Year resolution to increase the monthly allowance at the middle of the month. Or a man will quickly remind his woman of her plan to stop drinking.
When we have people to remind us of our plans, or people to work with on our way to achieving them, it becomes easier to stick to them.
So I’ve decided to make a resolution for myself, hoping that those of you reading this little write-up will remind me to keep to my words. I want to publish four books before 2018 runs out; one for every quarter of the year.
If by June, I’m not able to publish one, then I know that I’m not keeping my resolution. But I believe you will remind me. If I can have a glimpse of your New Year resolution, I will definitely remind you to stick to them.
So keep the resolutions coming. A lot can happen in a year for anyone who puts their mind to achieve something. And please remember to keep them SMART. They must be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.
Have yourselves a great 2018.