…Pondering on New Year resolutions, goals, and all whatnot
Millions of people rang in the New Year at various events across the world. For some, it was at a religious crossover service, singing, dancing, and praying that the New Year would usher in far better things than the previous year as pastors in churches declared the word for the New Year. For some others, it was in front of a laptop or TV attending a virtual service, something many people have become accustomed to as a result of covid-19 restrictions.
Those who chose not to attend a crossover service probably attended a New Year’s Eve party or a Countdown event. There were quite a few of those in various iconic locations around the world. From fireworks at the Millennium Bridge in London to New York’s Times Square where the annual ball drop was held for the first time since 2020. In Dubai, UAE, fireworks went off at the Burj Khalifa skyscraper, and in Africa, fireworks lit up the sky above the UAP Old Mutual Tower in Kenya.
Not everyone decided to do something special on New Year’s Eve as some people chose to go to bed at their regular hours and wake up to a bright new day. And with the morning came the usual New Year messages via text, email, or social media messaging.
“Welcome to your year of prosperity! Welcome to your year of breakthrough!! This is your year of greater heights!!!” and so on. You claimed whichever of the messages most resonated with you depending on whatever you have decided you need this year to be.
I get it. The New Year is a big deal to many people. It signifies a fresh start, a new beginning, a chance for renewal, an opportunity to wipe the slate clean. Many people believe, subconsciously, that there is something that differentiates December 31st from January 1st. That somehow, once one crosses into a New Year, a reset button is magically pressed, and one goes right back to the starting point.
Because many of us believe in this magical refresh, we are often pressured to make decisions about our New Year: what we will and won’t do. I say pressured because there is an unspoken movement that demands that people promise to change their ways from the first day of the year whilst they know that the likelihood of that happening is nonexistent! Enter the New Year resolution.
I resolve to be a better person this year. I promise to give up whatever limiting behaviour has been holding me back. I desire to learn a new skill. I want to see more of the world this year. I will earn more money, and on and on it goes. And so we make promises to ourselves to do or not do things that we hope will give us a better year than the previous one.
You wake up on New Year’s Day with a firm resolve to keep your New Year resolution, but after a few days or weeks, your old ways resurface, and you are back to who you were before. You stop going to the gym and find your way to the fridge a lot faster. Reading your study books becomes more tedious, and you spend more time on social media. Outings with the boys or girls slowly replace family time which you had promised to focus more on. Gradually, you are back in 2020 behaviour because that was the same behaviour you maintained in 2021!
I don’t make New Year resolutions, at least not anymore. I remember when I used to do so. I would feel ever so guilty for rarely ever going ahead with the resolutions. It was a tough one because I placed so much expectation on myself to deliver on these resolutions that I had not thought through properly.
And then, I discovered goal setting, and my understanding changed. I realised that it wasn’t enough to make resolutions, I needed to have a clear plan for achieving the resolutions otherwise, they would be just mere wishes. I began to understand that having a clear plan is one step and working on that plan is another step.
But then I also realised that one could start a New Year whenever they decided to. It could be January 1st or April 13th, July 26th or December 31st. Your New Year is essentially the day you realise you need to take responsibility for your life rather than just let life happen to you.
American author Daniel Pink clearly states this in his book “When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing”. From his research, he found out that people can make significant life changes on any day. People are also more likely to take a step towards turning around their lives on a day they consider significant. It could be a birthday, work anniversary, memorial day of a loved one, or even the day you make a firm decision to do better and be better. Indeed, like the Igbo proverb says, “whenever one wakes up is his own morning”.
Remember back in the not so far past when people organised goal setting and vision board sessions? You would come along with (or be provided with) magazines from which you could cut out images of things you desired to become your future reality. And then you would paste them on a cardboard sheet which you would hang up in your room, ever-present for you to see and remind you of your goals. Many of those sessions appeared to serve a need for community. People would spend time talking and helping each other while downing a few glasses of their preferred beverage and nibbling on small chops. I haven’t seen any being organised this year, so I wonder, was it just a fad?
Are vision boards effective? I would say yes, to the extent that they remind you about the things you have set out to achieve. Then there is the subconscious aspect: somehow, you unconsciously work towards achieving that goal because you see the vision daily. I know some people probably expect that the universe will automatically align in their favour once they have put together their vision boards. Do vision boards by themselves make you “get up and go”? I think not. One still needs to find the drive to chase those dreams.
It’s ok if you are still unsure or undecided about this year: for all you know, your New Year might be in June! Don’t beat yourself up and feel like a loser. Wake up and seize the day because any day can be your New Year. Keep this in mind, and if anyone asks you about it, you can tell them that is the way I see things today!