New Year’s Resolutions

SONGSOPTOK: New Year’s Eve is just around the corner. A large percentage of people all over the world are thinking about making new resolutions. Why do you think people make resolutions on New Year’s Day specifically?

RIMI: Most people make resolutions  as it has been a tradition for many years.  There is no evidence to suggest that these resolutions last any longer than those made at other times of the year.  New Year’s Day and resolutions are simply traditions that people enjoy maintaining as no penalty is imposed for breaking them. These resolutions are made in good faith but no one is held responsible should there be a digression.

SONGSOPTOK:  Available evidence shows that the origin of making new resolutions on New Year was started long time back in Babylon – the Babylonians made promises to their Gods. So did the Romans. In today’s society, resolutions are mostly promises we make to ourselves. How do you explain this shift in paradigm?

RIMI:  Ancient  Babilonians and Romans  took part in many rituals to appease the gods including animal sacrifice . Even as little as hundred years back people were more concerned with church and piety. Their resolutions reflected that.  Today, our focus is mostly on self improvement. 8 out of 10 women in USA will say more excercise and diet control is their number one goal . God, church or piety is still important to a section of society but focus on self and specially physical self is all important today.

SONGSOPTOK:  In your opinion, is this custom religious or social? In the country or the society you live in, is 1st January considered to be the beginning of the New Year? If not, on which day does the New Year start? What are the specific customs, if any, associated with your New Year?

RIMI:   In the USA, 1st January is considered to be the New Year.  However , I have also observed  Phillipino, Chinese or Korean New Year . All those cultures including Indian culture celebrate New Year by buying new clothes,  paying respect to ancestors and preparing special foods.

SONGSOPTOK:  Do you believe in New Year’s Resolutions? Do you systematically make resolutions every year? Are you going to do the same this year? Why?

RIMI: I used to believe in New Year’s resolutions. However, I have noticed that the resolutions routinely falter after January 15th. The closet stays cluttered, the junk jewellery, makeup is not sorted, the books stay half finished and an odd shot of liquor still goes down the throat despite the most well intentioned resolutions.  Hence, the zeal of resolution making has worn off.

SONGSOPTOK:  What, in your experience, are the types of New Year’s resolutions do people make? What are yours?

RIMI: Nine out of ten people in the affluent Western hemisphere make personal resolutions involving body weight and diet. Typical resolutions involve running or walking every day, eating more salads and greens and staying  away from alcoholic or carbonated sugary beverages.  My resolution is to read more books, find more spirituality in my daily life and help people in need.

SONGSOPTOK:  In case you are a believer in these resolutions, can you share your experience with us? Were you able to fulfill your resolutions? How did it make you feel?

RIMI:  I can only speak for my past resolutions. Most of them started with a bang only to fizzle out mid way before spring. Resolutions typically start from a negative place. Guilt and feelings of inadequacy and inability to live up to impossible standards robs me of happiness and tranquility. It leads me to a mental place where i do not need to be.  I advise you to treat every New Year’s resolution with a grain of salt.

SONGSOPTOK:  Research shows only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s resolutions. What, according to you, are the reasons behind this low rate of success? What could be the likely causes in your case?

RIMI: Low rate of success is inherent in the very nature of the resolutions made. Most people try to achieve the impossible in a very short span of time without any preparations.  Unrealistic goals are doomed to  failure  not necessarily due to any shortcoming on the part of the resolution maker. In my case the likely causes are much the same as anyone else. Procrastination, laziness and lack of adequate will power dooms my resolution.  For example, it is much easier to justify polishing off six squares of dark chocolate and skipping gym than to go out and jog a mile come rain or shine. 

SONGSOPTOK:  In case you were able to stick to one or more New Year’s resolutions, can you share with us how you managed to do this? In the opposite case, why do you think you were not able to attain your objectives? What, in your opinion, are some of the better ways to make resolutions stick?

RIMI: High quality motivation is the primary reason that controls the outcome of resolutions. People who resolve to change their behavior because they truly want to improve areas of their daily life will most likely succeed.  In my opinion, it is best  to start small.  It is better to formulate a concrete strategy. For example I would plan a heart healthy meal ahead of time, make a shopping list and  carve out a time to cook a meal if I want to avoid high fat and high sodium take out meals.  Working with support groups for gym workouts is also a good way to achieve success. I also like to keep a log to hold myself accountable for my resolutions.

SONGSOPTOK:  Do you believe in the feel good factor associated with making New Year Resolutions? Do you personally feel pious come New Year’s Eve because of the resolutions you made? Do you declare them publicly? If yes, then how did your family and friends react to your resolutions?

RIMI:  There is definitely a feel good factor about New Year’s Eve resolutions. I do not feel pious because my resolutions are personal. If I am able achieve peace and spiritually or help meet my service goals they must be done in private.  Oversharing on social media is not my style.  Family and friends can can be both helpful and a hindrance.

SONGSOPTOK:  There are market segments that capitalize on New Year’s resolutions, such as health clubs. Do you feel they have equal responsibilities in helping the pledgers to fulfill their resolutions?

RIMI: I do not believe they have a responsibility to assist people in fulfilling their resolutions. The pledger has an individual responsibility to accomplish a resolution. However, businesses should not take advantage of people’s desires to improve. They should set more realistic expectations through their advertising. 

Rimi Pati has lived and worked in South Carolina for the past two decades. She enjoys creative writing and takes part in community theatre.

We sincerely thank you for your time and hope to have your continued support.
Aparajita Sen



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