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New year resolutions: Same old wish list, of what essence?



MAKING a new year resolution is an ancient tradition which is still practiced  at  this present time. It is a tradition in which people make promises or resolve to change certain  behaviours or traits  to improve their lives. For most people,  stepping into  the new year  means creating a new year’s resolution. They believe that starting a new year offers a clean slate.

A Clergy,  Reverend Osita Okeke said that making  new year  resolutions started with  religious groups in ancient times.. Babylonians made  promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts. The  Romans on their part,   began each year by making promises to their god,  jarius,  whom the month of January is named.

He said  that in Judaism,  new year  resolutions were made on the day of atonement. Here, one is to reflect upon his or her wrongdoings over the year,  seek and offer forgiveness. “The general concept, regardless of one’s faith is to reflect upon self-improvement yearly”,Okeke said.

American Medical Association reports that  at the start of the 21st century, at the end of Great Depression, about 40% of American adults formed New Year’s resolutions

According to the  report, approximately 40% to 50% of Americans participated in the New Year’s resolution tradition .

From the 1995 Epcot and 1985 Gallop Polls, a study reported that 46% of participants who made common New Year’s resolutions like  weight loss, exercise programs, quitting smoking were likely to succeed, over ten times as among those deciding to make life changes at  the year.

A developmental psychologist in a secondary school in Enugu,  Nkiru  Okoli  said that new year’s resolutions could be promise to donate to charity more often, to strive to be close to God,  improve physical well-being: eat healthy food, drink less alcohol, quite smoking,

improve mental well-being, stop fighting,   stop biting  nails , think positive, improve finances , get rid of old bad habits, improve career:, perform better at current job, get a better job, establish own business, get married,  be hardworking,  be more organized, reduce stress, manage time, be more independent, spend more time with family and so on.

From the forgoing,  one could say that making new year resolution is very important ( if it should be kept). A guidance and counseling expert in a college of education in Enugu State,    Josephine Mama stressed  that making new year resolution is very important,  as when kept,  helps someone to be a better person.

In her write up on  January 5,  2015,Jessica  Scheuerman  wrote  on the Importance of New Year’s Resolutions . She observed that making new year’s resolutions gives one  the chance to set a new goal as an attempt to get rid of a bad habit or begin a healthier lifestyle, such as quitting smoking or losing weight.

Although the original goal and thought behind setting their resolution is good,, typically by mid-January, about 50% of all those “New Year Resolutioners” will have already given up”, she said.

Scheuerman noted that they leave their resolutions to fall to the wayside and out of all the people who had made a resolution, only 8% will actually accomplish them.

In a 2014 report, in United States of America,  35% of participants who failed their New Year’s resolutions admitted they had unrealistic goals, 33% of participants didn’t keep track of their progress, and 23% forgot about them; about one in 10 respondents claimed they made too many resolutions.

A 2007 study by  Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristollk, involving 3,000 people showed that 88% of those who made New Year resolutions fail.

52% of the study’s participants were confident of success at the beginning. Men achieved their goal 22% more often when they engaged in goal setting , wherein resolutions are made in terms of small and measurable goals.

Well, the gains of making a new year resolution  cannot be over emphasised. A 57-year old business  man,  Obi Aniegbo said he was a chain smoker. He told National light that he  started smoking  cigarettes at the age of 21 and was so addicted to smoking cigarettes that he finished one packet in a day.

He made a New Year resolution to quit smoking when he was 46 years,  which he started by reducing the number of sticks he smoked daily,  from smoking  a packet of cigarettes daily, he quit smoking. For Aniegbo,  New Year’s resolutions are very important.

“It was not easy for me to quit smoking. I worked towards it and succeeded. Since I quitted smoking in 2014,  I live a healthier lifestyle . I save money and am working towards quitting taking of alcohol.

Joe  Nnaji,  a student in one of  Nigeria ‘s federal universities said he was a cultist for years,  but seeing there was no gain in it,  made a new year resolution to quit cultism in 2018, which he did, though it wasn’t easy quitting. He said since he left,  he got involved in church activities. “Today,  I am happy, I  am at peace, I am free,” he said.

For Ugochi Okoye,  her story is different. She said  she came from a poor family and went  into prostitution, a trade she has found difficult quitting. She said  she had made new year resolution several times, but could not keep to that.

Well,  every problem, people  said,  has a solution.  For those who made New Year’s resolutions but could not keep to them,  Psychologists offered some suggestions that could help them achieve their set goals.

Jessica Scheuerman , noted that” The secret to reaching any goal you set is to turn it into a habit first and  make sure the habit you choose is small enough to be achievable.”She made the following suggestions,  quit smoking vs. habit, Only stop smoking that one cigarette you have every morning after breakfast.

Eat healthy food vs. habit, Start substituting that one daily morning pastry for an apple. Manage stress vs. habit ,Take a few minutes every morning after you wake up to meditate. She noted that one key thing to remember when making and keeping a resolution is that it takes 21 days to form a habit.

She advised that for one to be able to keep to his or her resolutions,  the person should start with a small resolution. “Make resolutions that you can keep. For example, if your goal is to exercise more, start by going to the gym three days a week (at first).

Write your resolutions down in a place where you can remind yourself daily of your intentions.Modify  your behavior if you’re not seeing the results you were hoping for.

Scheuerman also suggested the use of the SMART acronym when  someone is setting goals: SMART means,   specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-specific. If you are a fighter , a cheat,  a killer,  thief, cultist,  gossip,  oppressor,  kidnapper and so on  and  your goal is to stop any of  ill behavior ,  she said,  “setting SMART goals can be the difference between failure and achievement”.

Godwin  Akpo, a Company Executive  said he had one bad behavior, “high-handedness’. He was somehow harsh to his workers. Withheld their salaries , sometimes,  surcharged them. He doesn’t appreciate them when they did well.

“At a time,  I realised that most of my workers were not happy when they’re working. They wore tight faces,. The zeal at which they worked dropped and on my interactions with some of them,  I realized that the problem was from me.

I took a decision to change my attitude towards them and became friendly. The following year,  I made that decision my New Year resolution and worked towards it. Am glad,  it yielded fruits. I have a better working relationship with my staff now,”” he confessed.

An Educationist,  Kenneth Okeke  was of the view that for any New Year’s resolution to be realised,  self-monitoring is important .This he said,  means that  “You look back and see where you came from and the changes you have made. Reward small achievements. This , he said,  will get you excited about your overall goal and help keep you focused”.

Okeke suggested that there is need for one to make his or her intentions known to his or her family members and friends as that will help keep the person   on track.” You are less likely to fail if you have someone who  supports your goal  around you.

Okeke advised, ” make sure you get back on track and keep heading toward your goal. If you see it as a learning experience, it will help strengthen you and your resolution and make it that much more fulfilling when you finally reach it” .

By following these  steps one  can be sure of keeping to his or her New Year’s  resolutions: and when done,  will live  a happier life.

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