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Time to make the best of your New Year resolutions

Thursday January 14 2021
Epiphania pic
By Mark Ocitti

Eventually, after an exciting year to some, subdued, and even a tumultuous one to others, a brand new year, 2021 is here with us.

To most of us, the birth of the New Year provides yet another opportunity to indulge in retrospection and evaluating our life’s choices in the just ended one. It is indeed the period when we look back and ponder our deeds over the past year, whether we lived up to our personal ambitions and aspirations or not. It is during this period of contemplation and meditation that, most of us who had set New Year resolutions try to gauge whether we achieved the past year’s ones fully or partially or whether they petered out along the journey, as we focus on setting new ones.

A resolution entails a person’s resolves to either continue good practices, change undesired traits or behavior or accomplish a certain goal. As for New Year resolutions, it has been found that it’s easier to make than to implement them as the year wears on due to various factors. This assertion is given credence by available studies that show that of those who set resolutions, only about 40 percent can sustain them after six months; 19 percent can keep them for two years and a paltry 4 percent of people report following through on all the resolutions they personally set.

So, the question lingers: Why?

There are a number of reasons (or even excuses!) for failure to meet most of our expectations for the year but we might all agree that lack of, or little willpower, self-control and the inability to put purpose onto our resolutions-are the main culprits.

Additionally, I think we also forget, first and foremost, to be grateful for the ‘small’ accomplishments that we have, failing ‘to count our blessings one by one’ and express our gratitude for them. As such, as we commence the New Year, I believe the first thing should be to be grateful that we are alive and well and that we have made the cut and are even able to set those resolutions in the first place!

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There are many reasons why people make New Year resolutions. They range from focusing on better health (body or mind), eating habits, building a better budget, joining a club, learning new skills or furthering education, reading more books, quitting smoking, drinking more moderately, building/buying a house, a car or piece of land and, for the religious type, being better adherents by being more pious and devout by getting closer to, and making peace with your Maker - among many more reasons.

You see, setting resolutions is the easy part, but the challenge however is in implementation and follow-through. May I, therefore, hazard some suggestions that I hope can help you sustain your resolutions, though they might not be the decisive magic wand.

First, it’s important to realize which of the resolutions worked for you the year gone by. This is important because if for some reason it didn’t work, it might not work after all even if you decided to ‘carry it forward’ to the New Year. ‘Garbage in, garbage out’, is the popular saying in the leadership/management realm so it’s important to shed what has not been working and embrace a new resolution that could possibly supply a similar reward as the previous one.

Additionally, when setting your resolutions, do not go for lofty, high-sounding ones that might please your ego but you later realize are impossible to execute. Go for SMART, easy, good-for-you goals. Secondly, try to handle one goal at a time, starting with small, strategic steps that will help you succeed. If for instance, it’s a behavior you want to change, make small incremental changes that replace the offensive habit as you form a new one, putting deadlines with self-imposed rewards when you finally succeed.

As you proceed along, it’s important to think deeply about the rationale for each of the resolutions with these questions: Why are they personally important to me? What’s my motivation? Why am I focused on a particular outcome? Who will be positively affected by my resolutions?

The above questions are of particular significance because your resolutions must be purpose-driven. Without being purposeful and motivational, the resolutions will be destined to fail. They should be framed in a manner that will motivate you over time, having a depth and personal meaning that could help promote follow-through.

Throughout your journey, you should imagine ‘your future self’, shedding your present bias of looking at ‘now’ rather than later. Be honest with yourself and adopt long-term goals.

Finally, your ultimate desire should be to be part of something greater than self. Look at the bigger picture of the potential impact of the resolutions beyond yourself by casting your net much further, it will be a trigger to your goal (resolution) pursuit.

Last but not least, you must build a ‘resolution infrastructure’ by ensuring that you have amassed the requisite resources, both material and non-material to materialize your resolutions.

And throughout the trajectory, learn to embrace positive talk. Whistle around, focus on what’s good in your life and give yourself some credit and compliments: “Today is my day; I am thankful for me!”

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Mark Ocitti is the Managing Director of Serengeti Breweries Limited