My New Year resolutions always fail

2008-12-29 00:00

IF there was a Nobel Prize for those consistent in making New Year’s resolutions and breaking them overnight, I would be one of the nominees. Since there’s no such award, I decided to conduct a postmortem of my New Year’s resolutions to determine the causes of their premature deaths.

Being not so clever and yet not so stupid, I was conscious of my ballooning physique, hence diet was one of my resolutions as we ushered in 2008. Surrounded by my six daughters and their mother, at midnight we watched fireworks, sang and danced in joy. We drank a toast to 2008 and ate some chocolates and biscuits being passed around by my daughters. I ate another piece of fried chicken, escorted down with a glass of mango juice, custard creams and … oh wait. Only a few minutes into 2008 and the first casualty was my diet resolution. Well, I decided the resolution could start in the morning. But in the morning, the normal family breakfast of fried eggs, juice, custard cream, slices of buttered bread and some chocolate biscuits awaited us.

Since I have never been good with rands and cents, my second resolution was to save for a rainy day. However, I suspect my seasons to have been shorter because the dreaded rainy day knocked at my bank account in early January, before I could even start saving. When bills and invoices started streaming in, I was tempted to believe that it wasn’t really a rainy day but a financial tsunami. We had borrowed and spent a lot for our holiday preparations and now we had to pay for them. By the time I cleared half of those bills, it was almost the third quarter of the year and my saving resolution had vanished.

My other major resolution was to stop gambling. That’s it. I lost all the time anyway. No. If I give up gambling for a year, then that’s a year that I don’t have any chance of winning back the R100 000 I lost last year. So, with the hope of a win, I wriggled myself out of that resolution and continued with gambling. Not really good for a person whose resolution is to save.

The diet resolution was no more, while the idea of saving money was blown apart by our expenditures and the gambling addiction was deep in my veins. I took solace in the fact that my fourth and last resolution was easier to accomplish: to read a lot and watch less television. But I had forgotten that my six daughters and their mother like to discuss with me their favourite programmes. I realised that if I ignored them, they were likely to hit back by staging a stayaway when I am watching my favourite programmes, news and rugby. Since I have a phobia of being alone in the living room, I gave in and joined them. Having broken all my resolutions, I consoled myself. You can always start again next year.

That’s why my postmortem of my New Year’s resolution failure gave me an insight into some of my weaker points. I realised that achieving some of my resolutions doesn’t need to be an individual affair. I stand a much greater chance of success if I have family and friends who support my cause. It doesn’t help being on diet when my six daughters and their mother are fond of fast foods for breakfast and dinner. If they had known my resolution, they might have given me their support.

The resolutions failed, partly because I had not personalised them. I should have asked myself questions such as, “Why do I want those resolutions and what does it mean to me to achieve them?” or “How will I feel when I achieve them?” or “Do I want them badly enough to pay the price in time, effort and sacrifice to pursue them?”

My other point of weakness was that I never reviewed them periodically to check on my progress and recalibrate where necessary as this would have ensured that I stayed on course. I should also have put myself on the line by announcing to my family and friends what I was trying to do. That would have been a promise to them and a commitment to myself. Instead, I kept the resolutions to myself and with no promises to keep to anybody, I had an easy way out.

I should have written my goals down, which would have helped to crystallise them. Now that I have these pitfalls in mind, I think I’m in a better position to achieve my targets for next year.

• Tiema Haji Muindi is a Kenyan journalist based in Durban.

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