Every new year comes with new hopes, hopes that things would get better, hopes that all is not lost and hopes that finally we will be free of the mutated forms of the virus. And while in the pre-Covid times we may have embarked on our ‘new’ journey with stars in our eyes and a spring in our step, now we take the step forward tentatively with fingers and toes crossed, hoping against hope that we have seen the last of Covid infections and lockdowns.
As the last minute of December 31 phases out and the countdown begins, each of us feels that tiny flutter of butterflies and as our hearts pounds, our psyche turns on that new switch and just like that everything becomes new – all disappointments fade away. For most the New Year is undoubtedly the time to’ fix’ things with New Year Resolutions. Interestingly, making New Year Resolutions is not a modern phenomenon. New Year’s Day celebrations, it is said began in the pre-Christian era, with the Babylonians who celebrated it in March. This was later changed to January by the Romans. January gets its name from the two-faced Roman God Janus, who looks backwards into the old year and forwards into the new. Janus was also believed to be the patron and protector of arches, gates, doorways, endings, and beginnings. While the Babylonians and the Romans made promises to their Gods at the start of each year, in the medieval era at the end of the Christmas season the knights took the ‘peacock vow’ to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry.
There is no perfect scenario and no perfect day. Things that didn’t happen or materialise in the last 365 days were not going to miraculously change one fine morning. Change is good, and any change for the better is always perfectly legitimate. Resolutions like anything else come in many forms. New Year’s resolutions are desires to immediately correct /change certain habits that have perhaps taken years to establish. We want to turn a ‘new leaf’ in the shortest time possible. While some of us make a promise to change a bad habit, such as quit smoking or reduce the consumption of junk food, some others make a promise to develop a positive habit, such as starting an exercise program, volunteering in their community, or recycling more. But we don’t take into consideration the fact that to make any change, be if on the New Year Day or any other day, preparations must be made well in advance. It like planning your meal prep and having it ready before you decide to change your eating habits. That way you are setting yourself up to success.
I don’t indulge in New Year Resolutions anymore. The younger version of me made new year resolutions and then fretted when I couldn’t keep up with all the promises, I had made to myself, ending up more unhappy than I was when I started. Then began another long wait for the next new year, with another chance to renew the resolutions and the cycle continued. The one thing the past two years have taught me is to live by the day. So, I devised the method of making corrections as and when they happened. I cultivated the habit of doing regular spot checks. This has helped me avoid getting into a rut or beating myself up for not living up to my ‘resolutions’. Every day is a new day that I am grateful for. My priorities have changed. I wake up with gratitude and go to bed with gratitude. Life is beautiful.
Sonali Saxena has succinctly summarised her lessons from 2021. Her valuable takes from the year gone by are, “Time is transient – don’t hold on to it but make the most of it. Life is best enjoyed when you let it flow. Uncertainty is the only certainty in life. Enjoy the differences when you meet people; that is what makes a wonderful company. Friends add colour to your life – enjoy the whole spectrum. Family is the foundation that anchors you. Continue to strengthen it”. Moving forward with these life lessons, Sonali has decided to make 2022 the “year for ME, dedicated to all things ME and people who matter to ME”.
With the beginning of every brand-new year, Kala Philip has always had the natural tendency to reflect on her past and make changes to the next chapter with a view to make life more purposeful and meaningful. She also takes a holistic approach, considering work, family, self-development, spirituality, and health. She feels that Covid has helped in a way, and she has spent time thinking about what is important to her in life for the next ten years, her values and how she spends her time. Her top goals for 2022 include, “Setting boundaries, enjoying her work, considering her finances, nurturing relationships, focussing on her health and Having down time”.
Pooja Sethi says that while a new year means new resolutions and new possibilities, people make resolutions and forget them in a few weeks time. Her advice is not to fret about it but to trust yourself and to ask yourself the question ‘what would your future want from yourself and how to be there where you want to see yourself in 2022”? She believes that belief in oneself is half the battle won. She says, “If you think you can make this promise, you will succeed in all your resolutions”. Her suggestion is to follow three simple practices, “Build trust, for no relationship is possible without trust in the people, celebrate the joy of life with as many people as you can and stay determined and just take action, and remember, no action is small”.
Yamini Hemanth’s top task in 2022 is to declutter. She sees a world of difference in the concept of shopping as she understood it in her childhood to the present. The purchasing has shifted from ‘needs’ to ‘wants’. In ‘those’ days there were no on the spur purchases, and the family could never spend on something not budgeted. She says that when she got married and started earning, she was exposed to several lifestyle stores; new flower vases, sets of dinnerware and tablecloth, that could have been otherwise avoided, made their way from the shelves of the stores to her home. “During sale it didn’t matter if I was size L, if something I liked was M of XL, I would still buy it,” she remarks in jest. Well in this matter, Yamini is not alone, for there are many who get carried away by the ‘Sale’ tag and are guilty of such impulsive indulgences. Yamini also feels that as the size of the home and purchasing capacity grows, one continues to add to the collection, only realising the weight of the collection when cleaning and maintenance become a herculean task. She now asks herself, “How much is actually enough? Two factors for me are space and need. ‘Need’ is difficult to measure, while space is an important factor. Now I’m conscious whether to get that extra 10 kilos of rice just because I visited the grocery, or if I should just be putting items around the home to improve the decor. It’s not about minimalism, it’s about valuing each item around. And that is my conscious New Year resolution. I might not be 100% at it (temptations will be there) but yes it will be inching above average”.
Like people, years are individualist too and no two years are alike. The experiences each year brings with it are learning moments that add another layer to our personality, changes our relationships with people as we add new people into our lives and let go of those who no longer have a place in our life. While I know about some of the major events that 2022 will bring for me, I have no idea what the little and minor ones will be. Change or being in change is hard, no matter at what point on the calendar you start. And as change is uncomfortable and at times agonising, procrastination becomes an easy option. Unfortunately for those who do try to change, an accidental slip-up is sometimes viewed as a total failure. And instead of making it an opportunity to learn and grow, it quickly becomes an excuse to return to familiarity of the ‘old’ ways, with a promise to change ‘next’ year. The undeniable fact is that any change to be made, must be made by the individual. If I want to break some unsavoury habits of mine, I will have to replace them with healthier ones. Changes bring with them discomfort; and it must be a discomfort of my choosing.
So, while New Year Resolutions mean different things to different people and mean nothing to some people, there can never be a New Year without at least a talk about the resolution – it could be an argument, a disagreement, a determination, or just plain indifference. But one thing is for sure, there is something magical about the words ‘New’ and ‘Resolution’ – there is a ring of ‘Hope’. It is time for you to look back and check on what you have achieved in this first month of 2022. How many of you have stuck to your resolutions? Remember to be easy on yourself and take one day, one week and then one month at a time. And before you know it you would have achieved what you had set out to attain. Good luck!