At the end of December last year, as my family and I were sitting together for dinner, we talked about New Year’s resolutions for 2017. That’s when my dad gently suggested to me:
“You should aim to get a boyfriend.”
Luckily, my dad did not notice my change of expression. He then turned to my mum, and said:
“You should aim to lose 5kg.”
At that moment, I suddenly realised that despite being a person who used to make New Year’s resolutions at the start of every year, I can no longer see the significance of making resolutions for the sake of making them. Why do I think that New Year’s resolutions usually make no sense? Here are some reasons:
1. They’re hardly about what you really want to do.
An obvious reason of why you have to determinedly make a resolution to do something instead of just doing it already is that it’s probably not something you really want to do.
Instead, it’s probably what you think you should be doing, or what other people think you should be doing.
And course, the people who think that you need to, say, get married or lose weight in order to live a happy and fulfilled life usually mean well, and they would tell you that “it’s for your own good”. But do they really know what is good for you, or are they just pushing you towards an ideal that is deemed good to the general public?
In my mum’s case, she already eats a healthy diet and exercises regularly. Her current weight also does not pose any health risk, so when my dad prodded her to lose weight, he might have simply assumed that losing weight is “good” (because everyone seems to want to lose weight), but he might not have considered why my mum needs to lose weight.
Wouldn’t it be better, if we do what we want to do and need to do, instead of blindly try to meet other people’s expectations of us?
2. It’s not as simple as achieving a goal.
Back to the “getting a boyfriend” resolution. Technically, it is very simple. All I need to do is to chat up a guy on Tinder, or many guys on Tinder, maybe go on a few dates, and ask a guy to be my boyfriend.
Or, I can even pay for one to act as my “boyfriend”.
But this is utterly meaningless, and perhaps before 2018, the relationship would have ended and I would end up back on square one.
The problem is, many of us see resolutions as short-term goals, i.e. we want to have this done, have that achieved, own this thing, reach that place…etc. Goals are a one-time thing. It’s like “spending X amount of money to receive Y reward”. When we make goals into our New Year’s resolutions, we picture an ideal endpoint, and once we reach it, we tend to stop pursuing it.
Perhaps this is why many people who lose weight end up gaining it back. Perhaps this is also why many people who gained a relationship ended up losing it. They probably stopped committing to it at some point of time.
Thus, it is better to invest your energy on fostering long-term habits rather than reaching specific goals, and you will have to keep working on improving yourself. It is like re-investing—you have to take the money you earn and put it to work for you, over and over again.
What many people fail to realize, is that when they stop investing, they stop reaping the profits.
3. The start of the year may not be the best timing.
Bad timing is another culprit that causes New Year’s resolutions to fail. We human beings often fall prey to the monster of procrastination, which makes us think that we can always put off doing something until a later part of the year.
It also doesn’t really make sense if plans have to be made at the start of the year and not on any other day. In fact, I think it’s probably not a good idea to make many big and important resolutions at the beginning of the year, because no one knows for sure how the rest of the year would be like.
The same goes to investing. When we invest, we don’t make uninformed decisions, and we enter the market when we find that the time is right, instead of restricting ourselves to a particular date or timing.
Most of us already make decisions on the go, choosing what is best for us at the moment or for the near future.
So keep doing that for the year ahead. Forget about resolutions, or if you must have them, remember these:
- Keep things personal. Work on what you believe in to become a happier, better person, because your own beliefs are more likely to get you going, more so than what others believe you should do.
- Be patient. Rome was not built in a day. Improvement comes hand in hand with long-term commitment. You may or may not see quick results, or even slow results, but push on anyway.
- Be practical. Embark on a plan that is suitable and doable rather than one that sounds great but isn’t.
Wish you a splendid year ahead.