Welcome to year 2017!
I know a lot of us make New Year resolutions or set goals for the New Year and yet statistics say more than half of us never achieve these resolutions by year end. I stopped resolution making ages ago when I realised how badly I always failed to keep them just weeks after making them.
By the way, have you observed that our resolutions are usually tied to being better at ourselves? Like dropping bad habits to pick better ones; breaking bad relationships to start positive ones…getting more education to improve ourselves et al? Some companies start the year by asking their staff to set goals; these will be used at the end of the year to grade the staff KPIs
But let’s step back a little, how did this habit of making New Year resolutions or setting goals begin in the first place?
According to History.com, the practice of making New Year Resolutions began in ancient Babylonia about 4000 years ago. At that time, however, the year began in Mid-March when crops were planted, rather than January as we have today. The Ancient Babylonians would feast for 12 days and afterwards make promises to their gods for good behaviour in the coming year; since they hoped to be blessed by the gods, the ancients would promise to pay debts owed and return objects borrowed among other things.
Babylonians aren’t alone in this yearly ritual, ancient Rome also has records of resolution making way back in the era of Julius Caesar; Romans often made promises of good behaviour in the coming year to Janus, the two-faced god they served.
All of these prepared us for modern New Year resolution making, however, instead of making promises to deities, we are making promises to ourselves; to be better people, to uphold certain values, to do better.
Perhaps because resolutions are more about ourselves, it has been proven to fail woefully; statistics show that 95% of people who make New Year resolutions never stick to it.
I’m a good example of this dismal statistics. Years back, I’d resolved to stop drinking Coke for instance, ‘It’s bad for your health’, I had been told… ‘sugar does you no good’, my doctor warned… ‘You aren’t getting any younger’, he reminded me… ‘stop drinking Coke!’
Me ke, a coke addict, to stop drinking Coke?
Then he added, ‘Cut down on your dodo intake’
Hummn, another future impossible!
I waited for the year end so I could start the new year with no Coke… but just three weeks into long January, I’m downing bottle after bottle of Coke like my life depended on it and literally at that time, I think it did, Coke was my addiction. I found myself shaking seriously after struggling to abstain for three weeks.
I also remember resolving to stop eating meat years back.
An impossicant for the flesh eating Yoruba woman that I am; so grounded in my meat eating that even when blindfolded I can tell the difference in taste and texture of peppered ponmo, stewed fried chicken, garnished offal that range from abodi, bokoto, shaki, ifun, edo, gende, ishan… needless to say, it was a very hard decision to make. I stopped meat for a few weeks and in that period of extreme draught, I’ll see meat everywhere I go…like MTN. Meat on a butchers slab, meat in magazines and billboards, meat on TV, everywhere…everything meat would just be beckoning at me furiously, even my friends and family began to look eatable to me and so in two weeks or there about, I was back to meat eating.
New Year resolutions just didn’t seem to work for me until I determined not to wait for the incoming year before making up my mind to stop something; thanks to the training on goal setting I attended at Daystar Christian Centre back then, I began to set measurable goals for myself. I learned that if I needed to stop something or do something, I’ll gradually begin to achieve it in small measures and above all, I needed to write my goals and put it where I can see it to achieve it.
For instance, I just didn’t stop drinking Coke abruptly. I started by reducing the number of bottles per day. Then I graduated to numbers per week, and then, per month…today, I can look Coke in the eye and waka pass.
I congratulated myself immensely.
Now these are small stuff compared to other stuff in life that we need to waka pass; toxic relationships for instance; two faced friends who are habitual let downs; those who have nothing good to say about you or impact on your life.
Start by waka passing these people, these habits, these relationships.
Start in small measures; however, I do agree there are some you need to cut off with the precision of a hot knife through butter. Do by all means.
There are some people you need to let off slowly because you see, like someone said, ‘people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.’
They all have assignments and once each completes their assignment, it’s your responsibility to let them go otherwise, you’ll be sweating over what you have no business sweating over.
But look around you, there are people dying of debilitating diseases every day; there are thousands rendered homeless people either due to natural disasters or terrorist attacks; there are people starving because their breadwinner is no more; there are children dying needless deaths, children raped and silenced by adults who are their relatives…now these are serious stuff.
These are worth sweating over; touching other people’s lives; only then can our lives be truly meaningful.
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