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05.01.2008 Feature Article

My New Year Resolution

My New Year Resolution

Thank God another year is about to end its duty to mankind, with a new one waiting to be ushered in.

I believe by now, many Ghanaians are thinking about their New Year resolutions. These will include what to do and what not to do to make next year better than this year.

Some will be trying to change their bad ways, others will try to limit their bad ways, and for some, create new ones.

A friend was telling me the other day that, for him, his New Year resolution is to reduce the number of sugar babes he has to a maximum of five. Even though he did not tell me the current “population” of his sugar babes, he still believes that reducing to five will save his pocket from further possible leakages and painful heartbreaks.

Some more serious Ghanaians are seriously thinking about working harder, earning more money, cultivating and/ or improving upon their savings culture, spending more time with their families; and others quitting smoking, alcoholism and improving their health especially through regular exercises.
A New Year's Resolution can be described as an individual's determination or firm intention to carry out certain specific activity or activities decided on in a coming year. This is generally interpreted as advantageous to that individual.
The phrase comes from the fact that these determinations normally go into effect from New Year's Day and remain until the end of the year; or when such set goals have been achieved.
Some resolutions go unachieved and are often broken fairly shortly after they are set.
Why is it that people fail to achieve their set objectives?

A little discussion I had with some friends revealed these interesting reasons;

We make a lot of promises. Some people usually do not come up with only one or two objectives; rather they come up with a long list. A long list of intended activities can be confusing. Some of these plans may be related to each other and may hinder each others' execution mutually

We underestimate the challenges associated with these resolutions. We often do not realize how much effort it is going to take to reach our goals. For example, getting out of a bad habit takes considerable effort, because we are so used to performing the behaviour. In the case of a bad habit, you are probably aware of the fact that you should not do it. The fact that we perform the behavior almost automatically reduces our awareness of its occurrence. We only find out how often we perform a certain behavior when we try to stop it.

We usually formulate our resolutions very abstractly. If our New Year's resolution is, for example, to lose weight, we usually do not specify when or how we are going to do it and to what extent we want to reduce. The abstractness of our plans makes it harder to execute it and also makes it easier to cheat. If we do not specify that we are going start losing weight today, there is no reason to stop ourselves from eating that extra ball of kenkey or eating late at night.

With the above reasons in mind, I believe that we really need to plan before making a resolution. I have these suggestions for planning your resolution,

Formulate a Plan

Setting a goal without formulating a plan is merely wishful thinking. In order for your resolution to be achieved, it must translate into clear and specific steps that can be put into action. A good plan will tell you all of the steps required to complete the goal, as well as necessary steps to be avoided.

Create Your Plan immediately
It is advisable to plan immediately. If you're like most peopl who do not understand what New Year resolutions are; when to plan them, when to start implementing them, then you'll have a limited window of opportunity during the first few days of January to harness your motivation.

Another scenario is that shortly after entering the new year , most people forget their resolutions completely.

Write Down Your Resolution and Plan

You must also try as much as possible to write down your resolution and plan in a note book. A pocket note book is advisable. This you can carry where ever you go.

Think "Year Round," Not Just New Year's

Nothing big gets accomplished in one day. Resolutions are set in one day, but accomplished with a hundred tiny steps that may happen throughout the year.

New Year's resolutions should be much more than a starting point. You must be committed to it and develop a ritual or habit for revisiting your plan. Therefore if you are truly committed to achieving your new year's resolution you will forget about calling it a new year's resolution! It needs to be a constant living resolution that you are committed to achieving. This living resolution does not fade after January finishes, because it is alive and takes much more than a yearly review to survive.

Remain Flexible

Expect that your plan may change. Life has a funny way of throwing unexpected things at us, and flexibility is required to complete anything but the simplest goal. Sometimes the goal itself will even change. Most of all recognize partial successes at every step along the way. Just as a resolution isn't accomplished the day it's stated, neither is it accomplished the day you reach your goal. Rather, it's accomplished in many little bits along the way. Acknowledge these successes as they come.

Reward Yourself

When you manage to fulfill your goal or part of it, buy yourself a present or organize a little feast. But here is a word of caution. You should take in moderate bits of balanced diet. It is important to realize that you're on your way to success before you try to reach the next goal. If you want to lose a certain amount of weight, do not expect yourself to be able to do that in a short period of time, but reward yourself for every amount you lose.

Readers, these are my opinions. I believe that if we try to adhere to these, you should be able to finally achieve those goals that you have set within the year .

Good luck and Happy New Year!

Charles Nii Ayiku
Charles Nii Ayiku, © 2008

This author has authored 43 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: CharlesNiiAyiku

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