Passed down to us by the ancient Babylonians some 4,000 years ago, the New Year is a time to reflect and set new goals – be healthier, exercise more, read more books, learn new skills and drink less – but remember that the path to hell is paved with good intentions… and new year resolutions. Be warned, this resolution ride has a long and treacherous path with many of us falling off the wagon before February.
According to The New York Times, by 8 January, some 25% of resolutions have fallen by the wayside. Come the end of the year, fewer than 10% of resolutions have been kept. UNRESERVED spoke to a clinical psychologist, Goh Lei Kheng, who points out that many fail to keep their resolutions because they are not committed to their goals in the first place.
In turn, this makes them feel bad for not doing them. “Do acknowledge that we are just human. We may get distracted and offtrack, putting it off till next month or next year or worse, quitting entirely. Remember that everyone loses control sometimes,” she says. Not to worry, there is a SMART way of doing things. According to The Times Smarter Living Newsletter, one’s goals need to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.
At the UNRESERVED Christmas party in 2018, we spoke to some of our distinguished guests to get some of their resolutions:
IT’S A NEW DAWN, IT’S A NEW DAY
Goals can be set at any time during the year but for many like Mark Raine, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia, resolutions are typically set between Christmas and New Year and carried out in January. Historically, the Romans dedicated the start of the year to the two-faced god Janus, the god of beginnings and transitions.
Despite the tradition’s pagan roots, it has become a norm in society and is now a wholly secular practice across the world. Instead of making promises to gods and deities, people look inwards and make promises to themselves.
Peter Davis, our buff July style shoot personality says, “Work harder, go from pescatarian to vegetarian and have more fun – just by pushing on, moving forward and doing things right.” Davis definitely has the right idea – he is very specific in the goal he would like to achieve (to be a vegetarian), however, he needs to make sure to measure his progress. Maybe start off with ‘Meatless Mondays’ and slowly work his way towards becoming a herbivore?
Goh says, “Setting measurable goals allows us to engage in self-monitoring. We need to feel a sense of achievement and it is a good boost for self-esteem and motivation to persist and do more!” A good strategy is to team up and to not do it alone. A support system is very important when trying to keep to your goals, but be wary not to be influenced by the negative emotions of your partner and give up yourself. Resolutions should be easy like Sunday morning.
Our September cover girl, Lim Wei-Ling of the illustrious Wei-Ling Gallery in Kuala Lumpur, has but one resolution: “Detox in January.” A detox in January after a full month of debauchery celebrating Christmas and New Year is definitely achievable. “It is necessary to review your progress from time to time and adjust your short-term goals accordingly.
It is recommended to downscale your resolutions, targeting whatever is deemed realistically achievable, instead of giving up on it entirely,” says Goh. Wei-Ling’s short-term goal can be applied throughout the year after every major festive holiday: Chinese New Year, Aidilfitri, Deepavali and Christmas!
Our Indonesian November cover girl, Raline Shah, says it is the same for her every year. “I just want to be a better version of myself, and I guess we always have room to improve in all aspects of our lives.” Resolutions should be relevant to you so that you will be motivated to stick to them. Yes, we all want to be healthier and better, but we need to identify the reasons why we want something so that we can strive towards the goal at any time during the year.
Finally, resolutions should be time-bound: “It is very easy to assume a telescopic view when we set a goal and fail to realise that in reality, it involves taking little steps every single day and making the conscious decision every moment to resist cravings, impulses and temptations for instant gratification.” says our clinical psychologist.
With all this in mind, it is no wonder why many people just can’t be bothered to keep resolutions like Shireen Zainuddin who is “free and easy” next year and has “no resolutions”. Ami Moris, CEO of Maybank’s Investment Banking arm, Maybank Kim Eng, tells it like it is when she says she has no resolutions whatsoever because they do not work.
The sentiment is shared by the likes of our December cover star Ruffa Gutierrez who says, “I never follow New Year resolutions,” but she hopes to work harder and travel more next year with her family. Meanwhile, Andrew Wong, the owner of the beautiful OpenHouse restaurant where the Christmas party was held last year, promises to be more UNRESERVED next year. Now, THAT’s a resolution we can all get behind.
We may not have ancient gods breathing down our necks and asking for sacrifices, but at the end of the day, we only have ourselves to answer to. Be like Janus and look back to learn from your mistakes, let it go and look forward to a new year and a new you.