Come 30th December of every year, the chorus begins – “What resolutions have you set for yourself this year?” For some odd reason, everyone seems to have undue interest in knowing what everyone else is resolving to do new the following year. Perhaps it’s because they are looking for inspiration to decide what they themselves should do. Perhaps they seek to remind themselves that everyone makes resolutions, and they can’t get away without making any themselves. Perhaps they’re just being curious, as people are known to be. Or maybe, as in some cases, they want to know what you’ve promised to do so that when they don’t manage to complete their own resolutions 365 days later, they’ll be able to confirm that they’re not alone.
It often amuses me to see how different people go about these resolutions. Some will name things that sound impressive, which they do not at all intend to do. Others have very genuine intent, which will manifest itself periodically when they remember it over the course of year. A vast majority will maintain the things they wish to for a limited period of a few months before slowly slipping back into the well-formed habits that everyone knows don’t realistically break. And that small, diligent, reliable bunch, whom everyone aspires to be like and viciously envies, will tick everything off that list by the end of the year and have a new list of things that yes, to our chagrin, we know they will actually complete the following year.
Truth be told, of all the friends and family I have ever spoken to about resolutions, I know of only one who made one that she actually maintained. She decided to turn vegetarian, partly out of her love for animals, partly out of mere curiosity as to whether she’d actually be able to manage it, and also as a dietary measure – which turned out to be the most motivational reason to keep it going. She remained vegetarian for three entire years, despite the hurdles of living in a non-veg eating household, only allowing herself cheat days on occasions such as birthdays, and only recently shifted back to her meat eating habits, having shifted abroad. Despite the success of this resolution, she isn’t one to make new ones every year, and in fact said that this is the only New Year’s resolution she can ever remember making that she actually kept.
When we look at the various ways different people go about their resolutions, there is much to observe. The ones I find most impressive are those who get to it right away. On the first of January, with enough vigour and enthusiasm to rival the most dedicated runner in the final 100m of his marathon, the city is filled with people going to great lengths to prove that they do have what it takes to stick to their resolutions. Parks are filled with people walking and exercising early in the morning, organic food stores see an increased number of customers, people enrol in new classes and make plans to travel to new places, there is a dip in the sales of junk food in stores, you can see families out and about doing things together, and, my favourite to observe, the gyms all over the city are packed with people who have vowed to finally “get fit”.
I came to know of 16 year old Skanda, who was actually in a gym at 1am on January 1st – the very epitome of dedication? On speaking to him, I found out that last year, he had vowed to lose weight. Around 9 months later and 18kg lighter, he says that this resolution has turned into a passion. “Working out is my passion; I strive to get fitter and lose more weight,” he said. “I have a trainer that I work with, and I do a lot of my own research on fitness.” This year, Skanda plans to continue with what he has been doing. Even that night, he worked out because “(he) was bored and had eaten a bunch that day,” showing how he has integrated this into his lifestyle, going from someone who wasn’t very fit to a devoted fitness buff.
People like him who are genuinely dedicated to their gym life and go regularly throughout the year aren’t the most enthusiastic about the vehemence with which people crowd the gyms at the beginning of the year. A friend of mine cribbed to me, saying, “The gym gets so crowded at the beginning of the year, it’s so frustrating. There are so many of them who have never been inside a gym in their lives and they have no idea what they’re doing. And you know, we have to be nice to them and help them to figure out where stuff is and how it works…” Skanda agreed to this, saying that he had heard from the people at his gym that they had had a 20% increase in membership sales suddenly. Quite confidently though, he remarked, “Yep (it’s really crowded), but only for about 2 weeks. Then everything will die out.” My friend said the same thing, commenting, “Honestly, I can’t wait for about a month when they’ll all give up and stop coming and we’ll get the gym back to ourselves!”
It was this statement of hers, said with such conviction, that truly got me thinking; how can our resolutions be such a farce that even people who know nothing whatsoever about us know that they’re not going to last? Yes, there are the few odd cases who do fulfil these promises that they make to themselves, but what about the large majority of everyone else? What is the purpose behind the resolutions that they make, do they truly intend to benefit from them or do they merely wish to make themselves feel good by making these promises? Are they resolving to do things, or are they just, as it frankly appears to me, resolving to resolve?