In Defense of New Year’s Resolutions

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Happy New Year! May 2017 be a year full of blessings, happiness, love and adventure for all my dear readers.

We all realise, on a conscious or subconscious level, that a year is a mere subjectively defined duration of time that has been set by the Gregorian calendar and set by the counting of 365 and 1/4th solar days to constitute one unit. The true passage of time and history runs regardless of our human demarcations.

Yet, on another psychological level, a year can have deep significance to every one of us. We mark the passage of a year by not only months and seasons, but personal highlights and milestones in our lives that have created impact. Those memories shape our future destiny, and we mark the passage of years as measures of progress or regress.

A time-honored tradition is the making of New Year’s Resolutions. The idea is that at the beginning of a year, we make specific personal commitments of change or improvement that we hope to implement over the course of a year. This tradition is not a modern one; in fact, promises at the beginning of a yearly cycle were made by people as far back as the Babylonians, the Romans and in the Medieval Ages.

New Year’s Resolutions tend to get a bit of bad rap. The common assumption is that within a month most of the resolutions would have been forgotten or broken outright. This is true for many people. Still, I feel the value of using that golden window of time at the beginning of each year, when you feel the opportunity and promise for better things, should not go to waste. A new year is a good as time as any for renewal of purpose and focus of vision.

So please find below three pieces of advice to making sure your New Year’s Resolutions fall through and deliver.

1. Make it Matter

Your New Year’s Resolution should be of something of direct significance to you and with enough personal relevance that it can resonate throughout the year. Having a simplistic resolution like ‘being a better person’ is merely a platitude and lacks the specificity needed for impact. Something with an obvious merit, such as to quit smoking or to gossip less, will seem like a worthy enough goal to put in the miles to get it done.

2. Make it Practical

One reason many New Year’s Resolutions fail to deliver is that they are simply unattainable and impractical. If your resolution is to quit smoking and you are a habitual chain smoker, for some people to quit cold turkey is possible, while for many a gradual reduction is more feasible.  If your resolution is to completely cut sugar out of your diet and you are a notorious sweet tooth, you may want to question whether it is better to simply resolve to cut your sweet intake rather than erase it altogether. Whether the goal is insurmountable or not depends on each person’s capacity, and only they can be the best judge.

3. Make it Measurable

Once you set a New Year’s Resolution, try and see it through. The best way to do that is to have a goal that requires some degree of tracking and measuring to ensure progress is being made, rather than generalised statements of intent that can be vague. This will give you some reason to encourage yourself and a greater sense of satisfaction at the end of the year when you can chart how well you have done. If you have a penchant for swearing and want to get rid of this nasty habit, try and document how often you cave into to this tendency. See if you can steadily improve by the year’s end and whether you can claim to have fulfilled your resolution.

These are just some tidbits for your food for thoughts. My own New Year’s Resolution is something which I am tempted to disclose, but I fully realise the pressure we feel when we make them public. Better to keep them close to the chest rather than blast them out on Facebook only to feel embarrassed a month later when reality hits.



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