The secret to keeping your New Year's resolution
Text: Shah Salimat
It’s that time of the year when we heave a sigh of relief that we endured 365 days of bullcrap. Seriously, the world is in such shambles these days. Typhoons, hurricanes, shootings, Romney getting the 47% popular vote – point proven? You may also have endured breakups, ugly fights, falling out with friends, getting crappy gift bags and the like. I don’t know what you went through but this year may not exactly have been smooth-sailing in its entirety.
So, you want to start afresh. You want to take the bull by its horns (or whatever cliché you stand by) and march forward into the new year with a new resolve. You decide that it is time for a new look. Chop your hair off, toss away those haggard dresses, get a new tan. You make resolutions: to finally exercise, to quit smoking, to volunteer, to save up so you can buy that bag or vacation you have always wanted.
Erm, newsflash: you have just bought into the hype of New Year’s Day. The entire hoo-ha about the passing of a year and a flip of the page has caused you to wait until this very day to finally decide what you want to change about yourself. Short of calling out the hypocrisy (because you really could have mended those broken friendships months ago), we are already here so might as well make do with the circumstance, no?
Resolutions were long treated as a nifty way to reflect on the year that was and put in place goals to change lifestyle habits. Nowadays, it seems more of attaining better material things than working on improving one’s inner character. Ask yourself: why are you making these resolutions? There is a difference between wanting to do something and realising you actually have a problem to begin with.
The world is not a pretty place of candy canes and dandelions. Part of the reason why New Year’s resolutions can be sometimes so effective is because you are resolving an issue. Sure, you really could have lost weight in June or decided not to be jealous for your ex-partner the day after the breakup, but the fact that the resolution is based on something deeper makes it a lot more real and attainable.
In fact, why did you have to wait until the new year to reflect on yourself? Look around you: people are in such bad shape. Do you have to wait till December 31 to help them out? Stop finding another excuse to find meaning from other things in your attempts to be a better person. Events do not prescribe meaning to actions; you do it to your own. Take charge and lawyer up.
Also, we seem to forget that in the spirit of trying to be a better human being, we lose track of the little things around us that we never appreciate. When was the last time you thanked your parents for being complete rockstars? Why do you complain about having no friends, when you have a Facebook page full of them that you just cannot be bothered to catch up with? Perhaps a little appreciation is more than the resolution you need for the next lap.
Here is my suggestion: do not coin the resolution as a ‘resolution’. Think of it as an affirmation, one that life is great because of its ups and downs but you are thankful for where you are and hopeful of where it can go to. Once you can commit to affirming existence (I’m sorry if this sounds cheesy), life inevitable takes a turn for the better, resolution or not.
Why then, do we fail so badly at making these resolutions stick? Simple: they are irrationally acted upon. In the spirit of the new year, one is so enthusiastic at endeavouring change but incredibly horrible at the follow-through. Break it down and space it out: jealousy cannot be overcome instantly and so are those extra pounds.
I am in no position to predict what you will do come December 31. But, here’s what I will do on New Year’s Eve: I will wake up and be thankful I get to live one more day. I will thank my colleagues, forgive my enemies and hug the hell out of my dear mother. In the end, I will stay committed to being the best version of me, because nothing is more resolute than living life.
New Year’s Day is just some tired marketing cliché that spoils the very notion of what a new year is: it is just another day. Like many other days, you have the option of making the next 24 hours of your life the best you can ever make them to be, or continue moping over fails and screwing yourself up. The cards are in your hands and you do not need to wait until the stroke of midnight to decide.
Stop reading this article right now, get your butt off the chair and do it. No more excuses. And please, do it with earnest. Thank you.