Promises to keep…


Depending on when you are reading this, 2006 is either not far away or it arrived not long ago. As always, people around the world rejoice in the coming of the New Year which they hope will bring with it new hopes, new joys, new challenges.


The coming of the New Year symbolises different things to different people. To some, it is like turning a new leaf, beginning afresh, forgetting what went wrong, and looking forward to what can go right. To others it is an excuse to get plastered beyond belief. 


Most people prepare for the New Year by coming up with a list of resolutions, promises they make to themselves about changes they plan to make in their lives. Mine used to be “I will learn to parallel-park this year”. Here are some more common ones:


Resolutions are nice because they ensure that we keep hope alive. A person may be a chain-smoking, beer swilling fat slob, and it may be unlikely that he or she can become a svelte, tee-totalling non-smoker anytime soon, but at least that person can resolve to change. And this is far easier than actually trying to. 


Unfortunately, our commitment to resolutions usually lasts only about as long as the Christmas cake. After that, we break all the promises we made to ourselves one by one, forgiving ourselves for our little transgressions every time, until our list of resolutions becomes as worthless as the paper it’s written on. For example, first we might change our resolution to “ I not fall asleep on the job every day”, then to “I will try not to fall asleep on the job all the time” and finally to “If I cannot stop falling asleep on the job, I must find a job not involving trucks or heavy machinery”. Thus, the resolution goes through a kind of evolution- the survival of the easiest. Otherwise, our choice becomes to either recycle the paper or to recycle our resolutions for the next year.


Personally, I no longer write down my resolutions. At least this way I cannot be disappointed with myself. If I want to change something about myself, I try to change it when I notice it. If I cannot, I try harder. Then I give up. There’s no point making a fool of myself trying.


And, to me there is also no point waiting until the end of the year to make these resolutions to better oneself, at a time when one’s mind is on partying. Equally, there is no point waiting until the start of the next year, when all one can think about is recovering from the partying and when, personally, the only thing that seems to make sense to me is to put my throbbing, aching brain in an ice bucket and leave it there till February.


If you genuinely do want to make a change, make little resolutions you can keep. Resolve not to smoke today. Do the same again tomorrow. If you break your vow, if you can’t make it or if you can’t be bothered, try again the next day. Don’t commit to a whole year’s worth of promise.


I use a similar method, taking a day at a time. And that is why tomorrow, I will learn to parallel-park.


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