Opinion: Is making New Year resolutions a dying culture?

by Uwa Odefa

The situation could be different if we had “chosen” differently. Well, we still can. Let the past go with the old year. Today marks the beginning of the rest of your life. Let’s not give ourselves more cause for regret.

In times past, once the beginning of a new year comes around we begin to make a list of “new year resolutions”. We want to quit smoking, drinking, premarital sexing, adultery, extravagant spending (I’m most guilty of this, God help me!), wife-beating, husband-abusing/disrespecting, procrastination, laziness, lose weight, gain weight, get another degree, start saving, take a trip abroad, get married, buy land, a car, a house…the list is endless of what could be a new year resolution.

But these days I hear less about resolutions at the end or beginning of a year. And why is that? I figure it’s because half the time we find that we lose our drive and momentum by the second month of the new year and abandon most (if not all) our resolutions. From personal experience, this is usually because the challenges come; the obstacles, the disappointments and we lose heart, become frustrated and give up. Believe me, I understand that the situation in Nigeria does not encourage one to plan for anything beyond a day; a seemingly uncaring president, a questionable justice system, a heart-rending government, a political time-bomb, economic instability, non-existent infrastructure, a selfish and corrupt citizenry, a non-existent police force (in the true sense of the word) and to cap it all, we are now officially recognised as a terrorist nation thanks to the collaboration between the FG and Boko Haram! So how can we in the face of all these have the zeal and optimism to plan for a year of achievements?

Well, knowing all these will be there anyway, wouldn’t it make more sense to expect them, prepare to overcome them rather than roll over and allow circumstances to kick us in the teeth? Or worse still sit back and watch the world roll by because we have lost hope? God forbid! (Reminds me of the parable of the talents (Matt 25:14-30); the guy just buried them and folded his arms! Talk about wasted opportunity!) If we keep letting every wind that blows bend us in the direction it wills and we shrug and bend simply because it is easier, then why are we humans? God has blessed us with the gift of choice. It is our choice to succeed! Yes it is! It is our choice to be happy and to stay happy! It is our choice to stand firm in the face of adversity! It is our choice to say “Enough!” It is also our choice to chicken out and run; to throw in the towel and give up on life, our dreams and aspirations; to live a life filled with regrets, bitterness and blame-casting. Never mind that there’s always someone handy to blame; the government, the politicians, Babangida, the colonial masters, your rich but stingy uncle, your boss, PHCN…; in our hearts we know that we could have stuck it out longer, worked harder, chosen to react to certain situations differently for a better outcome. The situation could be different if we had “chosen” differently. Well, we still can. Let the past go with the old year. Today marks the beginning of the rest of your life. Let’s not give ourselves more cause for regret.

So why don’t you get cracking with that list? While writing it, create a column for the different challenges you may face before each resolution is achieved; that way, you are prepared. Also have a list of people who have done what you are resolving to do; you may need to reach out to them when unexpected obstacles pop up (as they are wont to do).

I have gone an extra step and created a spreadsheet and have categorized my NYRs (New Year Resolutions for short! Finance (which is a category close to my heart being an Igbo girl and all!), Career (draw up a PDP [not the political party! A Personal Development Plan!]), Health, Social, Body (fitness and beauty are covered here; I am a babe and I want to stay a babe!), Soul (covers my walk with God), Charity (for those things that are not about me but about others), Nigeria (every little thing that will help make Nigeria a better place; no bribery, no one-way driving, timely payment of tax and other bills, intimidating less-privileged fellow Nigerians etc and persuading as many Nigerians as I can that this is the first step towards a reformed Nigeria [changing our mindset]) and Extra for those things that don’t fall into any of the aforementioned categories i.e. motorbike-riding and intercontinental cuisine cooking classes!). I have also broken the year into four and given myself targets for each quarter and the months in each quarter have targets, too. So in each quarter I must have achieved a certain number of my goals. That way, I don’t procrastinate and find myself at the end of the year scrambling to achieve everything. I have figured out that any achievements recorded will motivate me to stick with the plan so I’ve set REALISTIC targets. Approach this like you would a project.

Now feel free to borrow a leaf (or more) from me. Get a journal or a diary and keep track of every goal achieved, every good deed. When you read through it on your down days, it’ll lift you up and make you feel better about yourself. While making this list, try not to make it all about yourself. Intersperse the resolutions with things you must do for others even if they are people who have done nothing for you or are total strangers. Include random acts of kindness and you’ll find a special kind of satisfaction and sense of well-being which would increase your drive for personal achievement! This is true! Ask Oprah! Or me!

And like I always say, if more of us do the right thing; change our current mindset then we will outnumber the lawbreakers, the bribe givers and takers, the corrupt people, the gutless lookers-on who will sit on the fence so they can swing either way. And when we outnumber them we can intimidate them into shaping up or getting out!

Don’t contribute to the situation in Nigeria! Dare to be different!


Uwa Odefa tweets from @uwaodefa


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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