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At the end of every year, people around the world create their New Year’s resolutions, a list of things to change or improve in the coming year. However, psychological studies show that only eight per cent of people who list resolutions actually achieve them. Can New Year’s really resolutions work as a motivating force? Are they just part of an empty tradition? What can people do to stick to their resolutions? Readers discuss.

Determination

Without self-discipline, resolutions bound to fail

The fact that less than 10 per cent of people can actually commit to their resolutions shows that it doesn’t work. Changing something for yourself, whether it is physical, emotional, or mental, requires a lot of effort and self-discipline and the arrival of a New Year has nothing to do with it. The act of creating New Year’s resolutions is merely a tradition that people repeat without meaning. I have made plenty of resolutions or changes on my own and to my own life, but I haven’t planned it during New Year or at the start of the year.

Moreover, people who have made New Year’s resolutions are bound to fail more so than people who are simply able to plan at any time of the year. That’s because those who make resolutions have done so for the sake of having a list rather than embracing a goal wholeheartedly. Those who are truly determined will motivate themselves from within, and not from a mere calendar change. In the end, it comes down to a person’s character, whether or not a certain individual has enough self-control or determination to make changes or improvements in their lives. Usually, when people truly want something, they find a way to make it happen, and this could be in January, the middle of June or around the end of the year.

From Mr Esme Yungao

Sales engineer based in Abu Dhabi

Planning

Goals can be achieved anytime

New Year’s resolutions, in most cases, are nothing more than a charm that emerges around the end of December, and they’re conveniently forgotten within a week or two of the new year. By now, the tradition has lost its significance. One reason is that in today’s fast-paced world, people need instant results. The prime requirement of achieving goals is patience, which is increasingly becoming absent as a character quality.

I always ask myself why people can’t improve something or attain a goal during the middle of the year, depending on their requirement. It is definitely possible to work on our resolutions and make them a reality with a specific timeframe, plans and methods.

Think of our workplaces, we have appraisals and performance evaluations on which our growth in the company is determined. We strive hard to attain these fixed goals, not just at the beginning of the year but throughout. Sadly our own personal goals at home, in our personal life and our social circles are not taken seriously.

I’m not one to keep New Year’s resolutions, but a few years ago when my children were still young, my wife and I firmly resolved to budget our savings and put aside a certain amount towards their schooling and our retirement. We watched our progress and shortfalls throughout the year and worked relentlessly to make this goal come true. This resolution is now an annual goal that is set before us. When it comes to long term plans, I check my progress monthly to ensure that I’m on track. If I’ve deviated from the plan, then it’s time to take a step back, reassess, and then proceed. By applying this kind of mentality towards resolutions, people have a better chance of achieving them.

From Mr Naveen Frank

Travel professional based in Sharjah

Impetus

Resolutions can be the first step

A new year brings with it novel promises; promises of beautiful days ahead, of hopes and dreams falling into pieces to make the perfect circle. Hence, every year, thousands mark the first day of the year to create their resolutions, to bring in positive transformations in their lifestyle and their own lives. It can start off with a simple weight loss mission to a career change or working on an annoying habit.

Resolutions are special in the sense that they make individuals take the first step towards self-advancement; hence if properly executed, could be a weapon to steer in new directions in an individual’s life. Individuals can program their minds to creating a ‘fresh start’, which can provide motivation in the start of the year. When I was younger, the new years were like the blank pages to paint new resolutions yearning for a completely changed ‘me’. But as the days moved on, I realised it never really works for me. Resolutions remained hidden in some distant memories and I was left with my original self. As the days passed, the passionate promises I made to myself in the beginning of the year, weaned down to nothingness. That’s why it’s important for people to sustain the momentum as the year unfolds, because it is in the following months that we lose sight of our aims. However, if our desire to reach a goal is strong, we can start or restart from any day of the year.

Interestingly, only a small percentage of people who make resolutions can actually follow through with them. I guess the reason being that most people create a mission statement, but forget to create small doable goals and break down into action plans. Hence, the statement remains cornered in some long lost diary at the end of the year.

From Ms Fareeha Sultana

Homemaker based in Sharjah

Reasons

Resolutions fail due to lack of commitment and unrealistic expectations

As we begin to reflect and ponder over the memories created in the past year, we are also getting ready to turn a new page in our life with the start of the New Year. To mark this auspicious occasion, people usually make New Year’s resolutions. Unfortunately, however, most of them don’t work and we are back to where we began just three weeks after the beginning of the year. This cycle of making resolutions at the start of the year and then abandoning them soon after keeps occurring every time, yet we keep repeating the same practice over and over again, not realising that the resolutions may never work out the way we want it to.

The reasons for never succeeding are abundant, but here are the reasons why I think they never work - firstly, resolutions are made looking at other people’s expectations of the coming year or by glossy magazines that tell us what to expect. Eating healthy, start exercising, stop smoking, manage your time more carefully are among the common resolutions that one comes across. Although they sound good on the surface, these are usually left half way through because our minds are filled with unrealistic expectations fed to us by the media outlets and our peers, which make us create resolutions based on what we think we should be doing rather than what we actually want to do.

Secondly, because these resolutions are conjured up in such superficial methods; there is lack of commitment to complete them. The initial burst of motivation that helped an individual create these long term resolutions is lost by the third week, and the main reason for this absence is that most of these resolutions don’t hold any personal relevance to them which makes them run out of steam. The goal that one creates needs to be central and of utmost importance to them. Personally I don’t believe in creating long term goals because I feel that setting short manageable and meaningful goals has a far greater impact.

From Ms Sunetra Gupta

College student based in Sharjah