It was a Sunday. The year 2016 was being ushered in. I was in tatters. The reason is not important. It was the first time ever that I made a New Year resolution.

A difficult resolution it was. I decided to change my job. Changing a job is not really a big thing – hundreds of people do so every day, every month, every year. But it was a big thing for me – I was deciding to leave behind an environment, a culture, an Institute – the only one that I knew outside my home. I had spent 23 years of my life in that atmosphere – migrated from being a student to a teacher – from a bespectacled teenager to a middle-aged woman – from a girl to a mother and wife – all within the precincts of that atmosphere. Yet on that bright and cold morning I decided that if I had to live joyfully, I had to move out. Life is too precious to be lived in piling up negativity. I had to move on in search of happiness – even if it meant a walking an unknown road. I moved out exactly after six months.

I have often looked back on that frosty morning and thought – was it necessary for the day to be 1st January? Couldn’t I have taken the decision on any other day? Perhaps I could. Perhaps the seed of that decision was there in my mind in an amorphous form – it took shape on that day. As soon as I spoke about it, it was out there in the open in front of everybody – like a new-born baby – vulnerable, soft, with a long road lying in front of it which it would have to traverse, come what may. Since then – to me at least a wish or a thought becomes a resolution only when spoken out. Once my resolution is out in the open – it becomes my responsibility to nurture it like a sapling and help it grow like a tree.

But why speak out on 1st January? Perhaps that is just a coincidence. However my guess is that any new beginning infuses a new hope and hope makes it a little easier to believe in your dreams and in yourself. I also strongly believe that once you pronounce your dreams to others – you create a challenge for yourself – a challenge that one has to live up to.

Leaving behind my logical and rational self for a second – let me also add that I believe when you dare to dream, opportunities come knocking at your door. But if I am forced to be rational I would say that – the true potential of opportunities can be recognized when they are weighed against a tangible dream – a solid resolution - otherwise they are wasted. Wishes and thoughts that remain locked inside the heart may die silent deaths without anyone caring for them. Perhaps that is the reason why New year resolutions became the butt of a thousand jokes!

I ventured to find out a little more. What I found out was impressively funny. The age of analytics has not left even New Year resolutions untouched! But first things first.

The Wiki definition of New Year’s resolution reads as follows:  “A New Year's resolution is a tradition, most common in the Western Hemisphere but also found in the Eastern Hemisphere, in which a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behavior.”

My dear discerning readers, you can already see that I don’t agree whole-heartedly with this. To me a resolution may be about changing yourself but it need not be restricted to it. Why should it always be about changing myself? Once in a while with a firm faith in myself - it could also be about changing my environment or people around me!

And as if to reinforce my thoughts – I chanced upon Garfield echoing them on a friend’s wall - in his inimitable way of course!
For all those who smell conceit in this – I say it is self-confidence!
Self-confidence is indeed the first step to make your resolutions succeed! 

So what are some of the most popular New resolutions? Trust an American Institution to conjure up some survey and throw up some statistics for whatever insane thing you are looking for – and rely on Google to bring that to you.

People want to lose weight, get organized, spend less and save more, enjoy life, stay fit and healthy, learn something exciting, quit smoking, help others realize their dreams, fall in love and spend more time with family – in that order.

There are not much surprises in it – isn’t it? After all who would not want to be 21 forever while enjoying life with food and leisure within a budget!

In fact going far back to wherever history of modern civilization can take us – we learn that Babylonians pledged to their Gods at the beginning of a New Year that they would return borrowed objects and clear their debts!

A survey of Americans also show that while 45% of them usually make New Year resolutions, only 8% are able to achieve their goals. But what is more heartening to note is that 39% of Americans in their twenties do achieve their goals.

Moving on, a little more search revealed that these resolutions were more or less universal. So I am not getting into more statistics. Rather let me reveal some more interesting insights that my search revealed.

The most important revelations were that even resolutions are undergoing the super-specialization syndrome and there are a plethora of web messiahs eager to help poor mortals stick to their resolution.
This called for a deeper dig - especially to know what Indians in India are up to.

Here is what I found - there are top 20 super-resolutions for those who resolve to lose weight – top 6 super-resolutions for those who resolve to save money and top 30 things to do to get organized.

Now God help those who want to get organized! I personally think it is very difficult – practically impossible to remember 30 things to do or not to do. I would rather be disorganized and just rely on somebody to send me an email-stinker whenever I default and depend on “Search” to find files on my laptop’s chaotic file-system. But that of course is a personal choice. Those who differ with me can simply search Google.

The super-specialized resolutions to lose weight and keep fit did not hold much of a surprise. In order to stick to the original resolution, one just needed to adopt 20 sub-resolutions like drinking green tea, eating favorite foods with favorite people once in a while, drink more water and more known mundane stuff – which if one could follow regularly, I guess there would be no need to get into this business of a resolution to lose weight at all. But then we humans are mere mortals – we succumb to temptation and pressure and then need resolutions to restore us back to shape.

But I have to admit that one advice that I found really helpful was to avoid eating to please other people! Well – as an Indian I know how difficult it is to resist a mother or an aunt or a granny and yet not be condemned for contempt to seniority. I constantly succumb to my mother’s pressure of having a little more rice and as a mother I force one more paratha on my son whenever he comes home for a vacation. I can see that there is definitely some scope for me to learn in this front!

Resolutions related to saving more and spending less was a bit more interesting. It suggested that one should track every penny that one spends, choose a saving’s plan, shop economically by indulging in lots of window-shopping before actual buying and opt for some retirement plans. Till now nothing very different from what my grand father or father would suggest really.

But then the next few suggestions jolted me up from my state of semi-slumber. The site actually suggests one to avoid cashless transactions and avoid private cabs!
I really pity the poor souls who have resolved to save more and spend less this year. While the first suggestion will positively brand them as anti-nationals, following the last suggestion would outright make them look like stone-age personalities – driving their own Mercedes or BMWs while the world rejoiced driving in the artificially intelligent Ola and Uber cabs.

Having reviewed the mundane stuff, I wanted to understand a bit more about the intriguing resolutions like spending more time with family and the more than intriguing “to fall in love”.

Do people need to take a resolution to spend more time with family? What has happened to all the lazy bones like me who simply pick up the first excuse to work from home when family is around? Well, going by the number of people who are opting for this resolution obviously their number has decreased. Life is more competitive and more complex. With companies opening up Facebook for their employees as a way to advertise itself to the potential consumers out there - social media is not only eating up family time but work-time as well. Work spills over to home – social media demands pile up – and ultimately family time is sacrificed.

What do the Pundits have to offer to help the tortured souls?

Nothing much – I discovered. The few sites that popped up suggested opting for family resolutions to eat healthy and stay fit – rather than individual resolutions. Unfortunately the sites say nothing about how to make the family converge – a kind of Oxymoron to me!

And now finally it was time for me to delve deeper into why people needed to take a resolution to “fall in love” and more importantly make it happen! In my times - falling in love was the easiest thing to happen. It happened at bus stops, in the class-rooms, at the movie theatres and of-course at coaching centers. The heart was an unmanageable organ – it refused to stop falling in love even when hair greyed and the movie star of dad’s age made way for the star who was the son’s age. But apparently no more! Hearts today are made of steel and apparently falling in love needs a lot of strategizing! To know more about the strategies one has to look beyond the free advices and buy books. I wondered whether it is slighter easier in our country with a tradition of arranged marriages. Older people will vouch for the love they discovered through blind faith in our tradition. The new generation loves its wine in new bottles – so rather than depending on the neighboring aunty – they sign up for match-making sites to find their partners. Love is then left to fate!

Does a failed attempt strengthen the resolution next year? Unfortunately I could not find much on the web about this. I was intrigued. Is the web only about success stories? As I reflect on this – I realize that I am a little tired of living life dictated by the virtual world – tired of alien dreams ruling my life, tired of not being able to differentiate between real and photo-shopped beauty, tired of constantly playing a role model and not share my fears and failures with anyone.

I am almost on the verge of taking a resolution – and in my own way it would be about trying to change people. Should I encourage my friends to share stories about their failures and not only about their success? But I abstain. To each his own – I decide.We all have our own methods in madness that help us to act, dream and enjoy life. Sooner or later each one of us realizes that nobody can architect our dreams on behalf of us. Our resolutions are only as good as we can make them happen.

Let them be few – but let them be real – let them be yours.



1 comment:

  1. Great job, Lipika. Thorougly enjoyed your article


Blogger Widgets
Powered by Blogger.