Don’ts and Dos of New Year’s Resolutions

Posted on December 18, 2012


When I was in school, I always made new year’s resolutions (NYRs) and always broke them. Of course they were mainly about studying harder and not watching too much tv. But still. So I went about my 20s with a resolution to make no resolutions. Till 2012 happened. And of course keeping my resolutions for an entire year makes me an expert on how you can keep yours!

WHY should you keep new year’s resolutions (NYRs)?” The answer is: Because you are a work in progress. Because it is good to challenge yourself. Because your bad habits are disgusting. Because you will die if you don’t change. Take your pick. The bottom line is, all of us could do with a wee bit of improvement.

The DON’Ts are:

1. Don’t declare your new year’s resolutions to the world: You do not need the added pressure of everyone and their brother watching you. So if you fail, you’ve not failed publicly. And a private failure makes you understand a great deal about yourself.

2. Don’t psych yourself about January 1st: Most people who make NYRs look at Jan 1st as the d-day. It creates fear. And most people don’t do well when they fear something. Like exams. Or public speaking. But hey! This is private life. You can start on January 2nd or January 7th or even February 1st.

3. Don’t go to the other extreme: Most of us look at quitting something or starting something as an ordeal. So we want to drink an entire bottle of whiskey, or, smoke 3 packets of cigarettes so that we never have the urge again. Be realistic. If people would never crave for cake or coffee or cocaine just because they had one crazy night, there would be no addicts in the world. Yes, you may wake up on Jan 2nd and may want to be sober, but it won’t last.

4. Don’t make too many resolutions: Choose one or two things that require the most work. I know some people who want to give up meat, booze and cigarettes all at one go! I can see them failing even before they started.

5. Don’t get discouraged, expect to fail: Just because you make resolutions doesn’t mean you won’t have setbacks. A setback is just a thorn. You remove it and trudge along till it hurts no more. If you end up smoking, or not calling your loved one on Jan 10th, that’s one day. You cannot say “I am useless, may as well smoke till I die”, or “Not call my parents and ignore them for as long as I live.”

The DOs are:

1. Do tell yourself each day WHY this is important: I told myself everyday in 2012 that I need to be healthy, or that the only way to rid myself of my problems was to help someone else. So if you decide to not smoke, or reconnect with friend, or even exercise regularly – tell yourself EVERYDAY why this is important to YOU.

2. Do begin early: This is in relation to 2. in DON’Ts. Instead of going overboard till Jan 1st, why not begin early. For e.g. if you wish to exercise regularly, don’t wait till Jan 1. Start today, 15 – 20 mins a day. If you wish to give up smoking, start by having smoke-free hours in your day from today! This way, you’re preparing your mind and body to get there in the new year.

3. Do have an unrelated goal that will help you achieve the resolution: You are going to reward yourself with money. The usual method is to put money in a jar every time you slip. But in my method, we’re going to put money in a jar because we’re successful! Money is a good motivator and we’re going to use it to help us better ourselves. The unrelated goal could be a Bose speaker, a new car, a trip to Brazil, a diamond, a gorgeous dress or bag or shoes, helping a loved one…anything! Initially every week that you keep your resolution put in $50 (or an equivalent in your currency). You can start with daily too. Put $5 each day you keep your resolution!

4. Do have a role model: Surround yourself with people who enable you positively and especially engage with someone who has achieved what you’re trying to achieve. They can be your “sponsor”. You can, but don’t have to tell them that they’re your sponsor or role model. Like I said, this is about you and you’re doing all this consciously, but privately.

5. Do believe that YOU can do it! This is not about anyone else. This is your own personal journey, and you CAN!

That’s all there is to it! Start today!

Posted in: attitude