Keeping it real

Keeping it real

January is that month of the year when we resolve to make our lives more meaningful by fulfilling hitherto unachieved aspirations. I will lose 15 kg in one year. I will learn how to play guitar. I will spend more time with my kids. I will quit smoking. I will party less. I will study more… the list goes on. With all sincerity, the dreams and desires are listed out, confident that they will be realised in the new year at least and then I will have a complete new look - a slimmer, smarter, confident and intelligent me. Life is good.

Unlike last year, this year I am more determined, better prepared and extremely committed towards my resolutions. I eagerly wait for the year to begin and then all will be well. Losing weight is the most common New Year resolution. No wonder, gym owners love the first month of the year, as January sees maximum number of enrolments in any year. Come February, and the crowds thin down a bit when reality strikes and the enthusiasm wanes. The more dedicated ones linger till March. After that, excuses galore. For the rest of the year, we are back to our old habits, which we wish we could get rid of. Come December and the resolutions quietly resurface only to be made and broken all over again. It's business as usual.

According to studies, only 8% of the people keep their resolutions till the end of the year. What is so elusive about New Year resolutions? Like the fine grains of sand, the thoughtfully crafted resolutions slip from between the cracks in our fingers; the tighter we try to hold on to them, the faster they slip. Here are a few insights on the disappearance of New Year resolutions:

Keep it simple

The problem with most of us is we want everything and that too instantly. No doubt, enthusiasm ignites the fire within but over enthusiasm douses the flame fully. The desire to bring a complete overhaul in our personality instead of focusing on one or two attributes is a greedy start to the new year. In fact, keeping it simple and making it specific does the trick. It gives a direction to the goal at hand. The resolution of "I want to be a good father" is vague, instead how about 'I will spend more time with my children' or even better would be "Every day, I will spend an hour after dinner with my children." The more specific the resolution, the higher the probability that it would see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Slow & steady

We all want to lose weight and look fitter and prettier. It's good to dream and aspire, but one needs to be realistic else it is likely to remain just that... A dream. If you are the lethargic type and have never been inside a gym, but after having been bulldozed by folks at home, you take an oath to hit the gym at 5 am every day for two hours, followed by an hour of brisk walking in the park. Accompanied by strict dieting, losing two kg in a month should be a cake walk for you, your father sermons. Sounds great, but this resolution has a slim chance of survival.

"This is a mistake I have always made in the past. Wanting everything all at once doesn't get you anything in the end. Now I go one step at a time," says Rashmi, who resolved to lose weight. "Two years ago, I weighed 85 kilos. I decided to dedicate 45 minutes to fitness every day, along with some diet control. After two months, encouraged by the progress, I increased my workout routine to an hour and followed a stricter diet." Now, Rashmi weighs 70 kg. Along with the slow and steady strategy, it is also wise to break the task into smaller chunks to make the target appear less daunting. "Losing 15 kg looked intimidating, but shedding 625 grams in a month didn't," she beams.

S.M.A.R.T resolutions

Whoever emphasised the significance of S.M.A.R.T (Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Time-bound) goals at work for professional success, the ditto holds good for resolutions - personal and professional. It is equally important to review the progress of resolutions every two to three months, and reset your goals if needed. This will give you a practical approach rather than killing you with shock at the end of the year.

Resolutions are not magic wands, which will make you prettier and slimmer in a jiffy. They need to be thought through and worked upon. "It is not the lack of determination, but the inadequate planning and the inability to prioritise, which spoil the show," says counsellor Ruchika Naidu. "Keeping resolutions is as much about strategic planning, as it is about will power."

Going public

They say, if you go public with your goals, you stay steadfast towards them to save face. Whatever the reason, if it works for you then what's stopping you? Declare your goals to the world, post them on social media, write them down somewhere, stick them on the fridge or tell your family. Sharing them with others will keep you on your toes. Better still, have a close confidant and entrust him or her with the job of enquiring about your targets every now and then. Seems absurd? Let it be. But choose your support system carefully. Share your ambitions with those who will encourage you and not pull you down.

How determined are you about keeping your resolutions? There will be days when you won't feel like doing the things you had resolved to do like reading a book or going for a morning walk. Don't be too hard on yourself. It's okay to skip your targets once in a while, but don't make it a habit.

"The new year is the time to look back and decide how best you can get through the year. My 2018 resolution is to 'write more, read more and drink less whiskey. I am sure about the first two, but the last one would be difficult to keep," says the best-selling author Kulpreet Yadav. "A resolution is a sacred promise we make to ourselves, but sometimes we might lose sight of them. I prefer to keep my resolutions open-ended, which means I will try hard but if I am not able to follow them fully, I wouldn't die of guilt. It's still worth it if I achieve only half of my targets. Half is better than zero. Isn't it?"

Interestingly, majority of people who make resolutions know it in their hearts that they wouldn't be able to sustain it for more than a couple of months, but still they have a list of resolutions every year, hoping things might be different in the coming year. Whatever it is, do make a resolution, it gives you a reality check of the current status and kindles hope in you that life could be made more fulfilling.

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