Friday, February 6, 2009

It’s about that time of the year

He who breaks a resolution is a weakling; He who makes one is a fool. – F M Knowles

What is special about February? February was named after the Latin term februum, which means purification. February is the second month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendars. It is the shortest month. It is also the month when Valentine’s Day is celebrated. But more importantly, it is about that time of the year when New Year resolutions are broken, if not already forgotten.

There is nothing more synonymous with New Year than New Year resolutions. It sounds funny to me that people actually believe they will be able to change old habits and create new ones overnight. On 31st December night, the person is fat and lazy and goes to bed late and fully drunk. From the time he wakes up on 1st January morning, he expects to lose weight, be more hard working and give up drinking. Can 6 to 7 hours of careless sleep change a person so dramatically for Pete’s sake? Rather, for their own sake?

After hearing people talk about their resolutions, it is obvious to me that they think it is fashionable to make resolutions. The New Year resolutions of people make me chuckle and vindicates my theory that the world is a lot funnier than we think. The real scenario of a New Year resolution is something like this – “Dear Lord, So far this year I've done well. I haven't gossiped, I haven't lost my temper. I haven't been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or overindulgent. I'm very thankful for that. But in a few minutes, Lord, I'm going to get out of bed, and from then on I'm probably going to need a lot more help. Amen.”

I think that a New Year's resolution is something that goes in one ‘year’ and out the other. My guess is that people would have forgotten all about them by February. This is the time people end up making a 'new start' to their 'old habits'. As Oscar Wilde said resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account.

A few years ago, I resolved to be more decisive. But I could not decide on any other resolutions though! But since then, my resolution has been not to make resolutions. So I have made no new resolutions for this year too. My computer’s resolution remains at 1280X800, while by DSLR’s is 12.2 MP. The act of making plans, setting deadlines, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is something that my wife does on a daily basis for me. But things have changed this year. My wife’s New Year resolution this year was to stop telling me what to do all the time. Just that along with her resolution, she made mine too!

I believe one doesn’t need an excuse to start or stop something that one believes in. But there is nothing wrong in making a resolution (any time of the year!) if one intends to stick to it. Like my friend who insisted that she would not make any resolutions this year, since she was still working on all those she made in the previous years. In fact, if you look carefully, there is a solution lurking in re’solution’ itself.

One way is to keep the resolutions realistic, like this – ‘When I thought about the evils of drinking in the New Year, I gave up thinking.’ or ‘I resolve that I am not going to the moon unless space travel becomes really affordable.’ Instead, people end up making resolutions like this – ‘My New Year resolution is to stand up for myself. But if you think that's stupid, let me think of another one.’

It may be a good idea to break resolution into phases as follows – Peter, at a New Year's party, turns to his friend, Pan, and asks for a cigarette. 'I thought you made a New Year resolution to quit smoking,' Pan responds. 'I am in the process of quitting,' replies Peter with a grin, 'Right now, I am in the middle of phase one.' 'Phase one?' wonders Pan. 'Yeah,' laughs Peter, 'I've quit buying.'

Discipline is the other important ingredient to make a resolution work. Few years back, a colleague announced in February that he had resolved to go on a 'sea food' diet and have been successful so far. He had the admiring glances of everybody till he let out his secret, “Whenever I see food, I eat it!”

Another effective way to make resolutions work is to set it up for a month instead of for a year. This also gives you the opportunity to break it twelve times a year. If your integrity is really low or you are of a weak heart, you could go for weekly resolutions. Just to clarify, that is not the reason why I make daily resolutions! A friend of mine told me last month that his New Year resolution was to procrastinate less this year. “But today is already January 11th” I told him. “See, I am getting better already. I made the same resolution last year on January 26th.”

Having condemned New Year resolutions and given you tips on how to keep a resolution, here’s wishing that all your troubles last only as long as your New Year resolutions!