The last few seconds of the eve of every year is usually counted down with bated breath and the New Year is heralded with ecstasy. The reason for this is not farfetched. Many have come to view the first day of January in every year as a clean slate, an opportunity for a fresh start, a tabula rasa of some sorts. Hence, it has become a recurrent habit for some people to prepare a to-do list for the New Year. The contents of this mental or physical list as the case may be are tagged “New year Resolutions” and they usually embody the proposed undertakings the individual intends to kick start from day one and accomplish before the end of the year. It may be to learn a new language, eat healthy, exercise regularly, save money, take up a dancing class, learn a tradecraft, acquire a virtue or get rid of a vice.
New Year resolutions are not a novel practice. They have been around for a long time and are not peculiar to a particular country, tribe, race, gender or age grade. They may so have become something of such unconscious routine that we me may no longer be averting our minds to the reason and the long term significance of this practice. Human beings are known creatures of habits and as research has revealed, the first positive step to accomplishing any set goal is to make a metal or physical note of it.
Personally, I have never been one for New Year resolutions. I have always regarded myself as too spontaneous to be shackled by the seeming constraints of the practice. I am young, flexible and adventurous. Why do I have to wait till January 1st of every year to start something important? I believed my whims were sufficient to dictate the course of my actions. It seemed too much of an effort at that time but as I would later get to discover, there is a load of benefits that comes with working according to a given set of premeditated plans. The rush of satisfaction that I feel as I mentally tick off one accomplished goal after another is all the impetus I need to compel me into making a written list of things I intend to accomplish before the end of each year and ever since I started, it is a system that has worked perfectly.
For those who have formed the habit of making New Year resolutions too, how is implementing those resolutions coming along? Not so easy, I presume? It is undeniable that making plans and sticking with them can be a difficult thing to do. We are humans after all and we acknowledge our imperfections and our tendencies to relapse occasionally. I will outline a couple of strategies that I adopt to facilitate the implementation of my New Year resolutions as follows:
- Prioritise: it has been opined that the biggest factor standing against New Year resolutions is failure to identify and distinguish the things you need to do from the things you want to do. The latter obviously should come first. The danger of not making this important distinction is that there is the likelihood of conflating these two and as a result, you may create a lengthy and discouraging to-do list. It is only logical that the needs should sit atop your list and should merit foremost consideration before the wants get your attention.
- Start Small, Start Now: – it is a popular saying that “Rome was not built in a day”. Trust me, the “new year, new me” slogan is not an easy one to adhere to. Instead of waiting till January 1 till you begin to take any meaningful action on that long list of goals you intend to accomplish, why don’t you start tackling them one by one now starting today? I mean, today is as good a day as any, January 1 inclusive. If you fall for the trap of postponing those resolutions till January, don’t be surprised if next January becomes the January after the next infinitely.
- Be committed: Commitment is key to motivation. When there is no commitment, there is no motivation. Thus, when the first sets of obstacles rear their heads, you are prone to succumb and quit. The way out is to identify a feasible goal, make concerted efforts to obtain the resources necessary to setting its execution in motion and give it all the kick off you can will your spirit into summoning. Furthermore, seek the help of God in prayer for the strength to stay committed to the course.
- Join a Group: – Research has revealed that goals and tasks are easier accomplished when done as a group. Find a group of people with similar interests. Share your strategies. Exchange ideas. Adopt each other’s beneficial strategies. Encourage each other. Plans fail for lack of counsel but with many advisers, they succeed (Pr 15:22). For instance, a good way to implement desired exercise regime is to make a fitness partner of your spouse.
- Take One Step At A Time: – One of the surest ways of not accomplishing anything is to have too many resolutions. Be realistic. Identify the feasible ones and work towards accomplishing them. Examine the unrealistic ones and discard them if need be. Do not be discouraged by your occasional relapses. They only reveal the imperfection inherent in our humanity. You can surely overcome them with more concerted efforts and prayers.
So if you are dejected that you have yet to accomplish all or any of the things that comprised your New Year resolutions, do not despair. Research has shown that less than 14% of persons actually take the efforts to implement theirs. Remember that resolutions are yearlong plans and it takes twelve long months to make a year. While nine of those may already be gone, a lot can still be accomplished in the 3 months left. Usually, the most difficult part of executing any set goal is summoning the requisite willpower and commitment to take the first step. Once you begin, other things fall into line. So why not begin to apply that exercise routine today? Draw up a diet timetable. Buy a French dictionary. Take up that dancing class. Save that first #1,000.00 and most importantly, do not beat yourself up if you do eventually accomplish every resolution or you relapse on some habit you are trying to get rid of. We are humans and we learn from our mistakes. Cut yourself some slack and remember, next year is another fresh start; a clean slate. And if you think making New Year resolutions are too much of an effort, bear it in mind that people who do are approximately nine times more likely to accomplish their goals than persons who don’t. Also remember that it is not God’s desire that we live without motivation or planning, (Pr 6: 6-11)