While making New Year resolutions is a time-honoured tradition, keeping them is not always so easy. Team Y finds out why, with some tips from some of Oman’s bravest and brightest on how to do so.
Just five days into 2017 and we are already feeling the pressure of yet another set of New Year resolutions to fulfil. We have the ancient Babylonians to thank for this custom, which they started 4,000 years ago – to celebrate the planting of new crops during a 12-day festival.
However, the festival, known as Akitu, was held in the middle of March, rather than on January 1. According to the history books, the Babylonians also made promises to pay their debts and return goods borrowed during this time – making them the first resolutions that have continued throughout four millennia and into the 21st century.
While millions of people around the world today make resolutions every year, the success rate is very low, with some surveys finding that only eight per cent of people manage to keep their promises, which usually range from losing weight to getting rich, going to the gym more regularly to perhaps some bucket-list items like travelling or entering a marathon.
But why is it so difficult to keep to our New Year resolutions?
According to one US-based survey by statisticbrain.com, 45 per cent of all Americans make New Year resolutions, but just eight per cent are successful in achieving them. But break that down and you find that 39 per cent of people in their 20s who took part in the survey achieve their goals while only 14 per cent of respondents in their 50s were successful.
The failure rate is much higher in the United Kingdom. The UK-based health insurance provider Bupa conducted a survey in November 2015 that found that 63 per cent of British adults who set resolutions each year failed to keep them. Of that total, 66 per cent didn’t make it past the month of January while 80 per cent failed within the first three months of the year.
According to life-change strategist Caroline Diana Bobart, setting unrealistic goals without first understanding what is required to achieve them is one reason why we fail in our resolutions.
“It is almost impossible to become a happier, new and improved version of yourself without an understanding of why your default behaviours were formed, and how hard they actually work to maintain the status quo,” she says.
“As adults, we begin to notice that the very behaviours that helped us feel comforted and safe in our earlier years now hold us back from progressing in areas such as our health and well-being, relationships and career.
“By committing to getting to the bottom of these, 2017 can be the year you finally free yourself from these ingrained behaviours and begin building the life you really want.”
Meanwhile, Team Y meets some Muscat-based residents who have set themselves New Year resolutions for 2017. Will they achieve them? Only time will tell!
A young American entrepreneur and operations manager in Muscat, Jonathan talks about his plans for the new year, and how he has turned his vision from 2016 into reality.
I am a firm believer that the words that come from one’s mouth will come true someday. I am the biggest testament to that. When I was working in Dubai in the early months of 2016, I used to dream and talk about having a workshop of my very own. I always thought of what I could be if I were to attain that goal.
But the very same year I turned my dream into a goal. In fact, I made a resolution to make my dreams come true and nothing else. One thing that would have stopped me is that most people in my industry (automotive detailing and decorations) fail a lot. I have failed too but if it weren’t for the many failures that I had, I would never have achieved any success. My motto is that you have to be curious in taking risks.
Resolutions, in a way, are risks that one takes; they make you break the norm and do something else instead. So when I came to Oman for the first time, with the goal of setting up my own workshop and luxury detailing, I knew I was doing what I wanted to do in the first place.
Today, Reflexions 44 has grown beyond what I have ever imagined. We are becoming one of the most sought-after car detailing and decorations companies in the country. And considering that all this happened over just a few months, I can proudly say that I met all my goals for 2016: I made sure that the business was well-oiled and flowing smoothly.
However, 2017 is going to be an interesting year for me. I haven’t even got the time to set resolutions for the year because I have been caught up at work. But, on a personal level, I will strive hard to work for my family. My wife and I are expecting a baby, and the next couple of months are definitely going to be interesting for me.
But at the same time, I cannot set aside the fruits of what we achieved last year. My team and I are embarking on a huge push to provide maximum quality to customers and also to break down barriers by providing new services in the country.
Some advice I would like to give those who are trying hard to make this year a fruitful one is that if you want to do something in life, don’t keep it for tomorrow. Resolutions are important. However, when you do something, do it for yourself and not because people around you are doing it. So whatever it is – be it applying for a driving licence or even washing the dishes – do it now, and apply yourself.
Nadir Mohamed al Azri, a volunteer at the Oman Cancer Association, 25, intends to make 2017 a year of giving back to the residents of the Sultanate as well as a year of self-improvement.
Challenges and failures are the first steps towards the process of learning and improving. So I want to take the New Year as a time to make some new resolutions.
Firstly, I would like to develop my academic skills by taking a post-grad course in Public Health. I feel that it is only right I should use all my skills and talents to give back to the many people who make up this beautiful country.
Following the example set by the Oman Cancer Association (OCA) would be high on my list of priorities.
Meanwhile, 2016 was quite an interesting year for me. I never made a resolution to join the OCA. As a matter of fact, after finishing my degree in Health Sciences from Sultan Qaboos University, I wanted to sit back and relax for a few months.
But life took a completely different turn when I joined the OCA for volunteer services. For me, it came as a complete surprise as I didn’t know anything about the organisation.
But today, as a part of the OCA family, I have met a lot of people, established many connections and have also helped to organise a lot of fundraising events, as well as international courses and conferences.
All of this has helped me to grow personally, and this wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my family and the guidance of my mentors.
As for failing resolutions; some people fail to measure the sheer complexity of their resolutions, and they tend to become too challenging for them. But making resolutions is important in its own right, and I personally believe that if you put your heart, mind and soul into them, you can achieve whatever you want.
Alefiyah Rajbhoy, an employee at a financial institute, is a firm believer in personal growth, and intends to make use of 2017 as a stepping stone for more of the same.
I try not to go overboard with too many resolutions, as the point is to make positive changes in one’s life and not to set unrealistic goals that are bound to fail. One resolution that is constant is to try to stick to what I promised myself the year before and make a few new attainable ones. This year I plan to read more books, focus on higher education and do one spontaneous thing each month that would make this year more exciting!
The reason behind these resolutions is that I strongly believe in personal growth and improving oneself through the pursuit of new information and experiences. My resolutions this year focus on increasing my knowledge, availing myself of opportunities to advance in my professional career. These would allow me to become more confident and have faith in the choices I make.
My resolution last year was to become more physically fit and to participate in various activities such as races and other physical challenges.
I was fairly successful as I got to my target weight and took part in events such as the Salalah Khareef marathon and the Spartan race. I also became a licensed open water diver.
As long as you set achievable and realistic goals, work hard towards attaining them and have a strong resolve, keeping resolutions is an easy feat to achieve.
Those who believe resolutions to be hokum may ask, “Why try at all?” The key is to make them but go easy on yourself.
Appreciate the little changes and try not to get disheartened early on. Always remember, even the longest journey begins with the first step.
External Public Relations Head at Ooredoo Oman, Emily tell us why she is breaking her annual habit of failing to make New Year resolutions.
I think my resolution for 2017 would be to refrain from getting to work so early. For the past several months I’ve been getting into work between 5am and 5.30am. So my resolution is to get into work at 6.30am. The reason for this is that I can get a bit more sleep and take more rest – something I have not had in a long time.
Last year, I didn’t have any resolutions; usually I don’t make any as I feel that changes or adjustments should be part of daily life. If you want to make changes, you should do it when the mood strikes you so that you actually stick to them.
I think if people make them just for the new year without any real desire to change their lifestyle (or other things) then resolutions can be quite hard to keep.
I would say the best way to keep a resolution is to start as you mean to go on. Usually a change requires a great deal of motivation to get started but once it becomes habit, it’s easy to stick to.
Student and part-time model, Muhanned al Taie, 21, talks of his interests in extreme sports and how he intends to stick to his resolutions this year.
I have three resolutions that I want to fulfill this year: firstly, I want to improve my skills in ice hockey; secondly, I want to do free diving across Oman; and thirdly, I want to complete my college education.
Last year, I had set targets to make extreme sports my priority. However, due to restrictions imposed by college, I could not do it to the extent I had hoped to. So, this year, I will make sure that I set my priorities straight and try to achieve higher targets, at least of the ones that I mentioned before.
I will also head to the beautiful Ras Madrakah and Al Sifah Beach for some free diving. Hopefully, I can tick them off my bucket list this time.
Merchant navy cadet and part-time life coach Aaron Mathew Prince talks about how you can make 2017 more fruitful by making plans on a more regular basis, as opposed to setting resolutions at the start of the year.
On paper, the word “resolution” sounds rather simple and easy. As a matter of fact, the dictionary defines it as follows: “A firm decision taken to do or not do something for the sake of a desired outcome.” Sounds simple, right?
Yes! And that’s the problem. For years now, there has been a general notion (maybe even a trend) that keeping resolutions is something that has to be done at the start of the year. I’ve heard many people (including a number of cadets I counsel) sign up for gyms, take a step to quit alcohol consumption and smoking cigarettes or even take up new hobbies and tasks.
But there is one similarity between each and every individual that I have encountered throughout my career, and that is: everyone wants to do something new, or change something that they have been doing “tomorrow”.
Again, the word “tomorrow” merely exists in a dictionary and not in reality. Tomorrow is a mere illusion of things that are yet to happen. So, pushing something that you are meant to do today for another day is called banking on the world’s grace. The hard truth is that you cannot even be sure if you will be alive two hours from this very second. So, why would you invest your potential energy and happiness in something that is not even existent? Therefore, I would firmly urge each and every one of you to invest your energy into “today”.
But there’s another important factor to failed New Year resolutions too: the real reason why people make resolutions on January 1 is solely because it is a new year. And for many, a new year is considered a new start. I can vouch for that as a lot of people do attain the goals they set for themselves over the course of the year.
However, there is also a lot of people who don’t realise that a resolution can be taken at any given point of the day. Think about this: every day is a new day, and it is a day that you have been granted. Therefore, it would be wise if you decide to jump off the bandwagon, and get yourself ready for the day instead of following others into a loop of failed promises and resolutions.
But from my experience, I have also seen that an individual fails in keeping his or her resolution because he or she is trying to do something that someone else is doing and ends up forgetting why they took up the resolution in the first place.
When something isn’t as dear to you, how do you expect to keep doing it on a daily basis?
Imagine this: it is your friend’s wedding in six weeks and you are the best man or a bridesmaid. Chances are that you want to look fit and trim for the big day. So you will put all your effort into getting into shape for the wedding. And almost 100 per cent of the time, you will be successful in attaining your goal. In contrast, someone hitting the gym for the first time on the first day of the year may or may not have a goal in his or her mind. To the person, hitting the gym is merely keeping a promise he or she made on New Year’s Eve. And that is the biggest difference between a “New Year Resolution” and a goal.
The process of making an effort to attain a goal or target involves “self-realisation”. Only then will you have the motivation and power to see your way through to the end of the tunnel. So, reserve your resolutions for things that you realise are vital to your existence, or your lifestyle.
For instance, there are many people who decide to quit drinking alcohol or cigarettes on a daily basis. Why do they fail? It is not just the addiction sometimes. They realise why they started in the first place so changing the habit involves accepting and letting go of the route that led them there in the first place. That sort of “healing” requires getting to the core of the problem.
These are just a few of the root causes as to why many people fail to keep their resolutions.
1. Make only one resolution. Your chances of success are greater when you channel energy into changing just one aspect of your behaviour
2. Don’t rush in choosing your New Year resolution. Take some time out and think about what you want to achieve
3. Avoid previous resolutions. Deciding to revisit a past resolution sets you up for frustration and disappointment
4. Don’t follow the crowd and go with the usual resolutions. Instead, think about what you really want out of life
5. Break your goal into a series of steps, focusing on creating sub-goals that are concrete, measurable and time-based
6. Tell your friends and family about your goals. You’re more likely to get support and want to avoid failure
7. To stay motivated, make a checklist of how achieving your resolution will help you
8. Give yourself a small reward whenever you achieve a sub-goal, which will help to motivate you and give you a sense of progress
9. Make your plans and progress concrete by keeping a handwritten journal, completing a computer spreadsheet or covering a notice board with graphs or pictures
10. Expect to revert to your old habits from time to time. Treat any failure as a temporary setback rather than a reason to give up altogether
1. Lose weight
2. Getting organised
3. Spend less, save more
4. Enjoy life to the full
5. Stay fit and healthy
6. Learn something exciting
7. Give up smoking
8. Help others
9. Fall in love
10. Spend more time with family