Talking about a resolution

After maxing out your credit cards from New Year shopping and feeling the blubby band of cellulite around your waistline, a byproduct of endless parties and drinking binges, it is time to pledge your resolutions for the year ahead.

No one knows the origin of these resolutions, but it has long become a post-New Year tradition. Sobering up from the excesses of the festive season, we often hear people asking: "What is your New Year resolution?" In the same vein, we might have heard utterings to the effect or "I pledge to get thinner this year and go to gym three times a week".

But such resolutions are no longer simply a call for individual self-improvement, but a marketing gimmick as well.

Entering the New Year, I received an email from my favourite on-line shopping source, bearing the attractive line: "Kicking off your 2013 New Year's resolutions." Within was the message: "The New Year, New You campaign is offering 20-50% off products _ everything you need to start the new year off right."

For example, running shoes, digital wrist watches with advanced features to measure, store and analyse fluctuations in calorie burning, pulse monitoring for the "get fit" resolution, calendars, planners, diaries, stationery kits and new software to document personal spending to help me "get organised". The campaign features gadgets such as Kindles, iPods and new mini iPads as vehicles to help me "get relaxed", and posh sets of cutlery, new kitchenware and cook books to help steer me to "get healthy" (and gain weight, which indeed was counterproductive to my "get fit" goal).

It is strange that we keep making New Year pledges even when many of us realise they'll be forgotten pretty soon. I do not try to be unnecessarily cynical.

A study by the Journal Of Clinical Of Psychiatry released last month showed only 8% of the people who make resolutions actually see them through to the end.

According to the study, only 64% of New Year resolutions are maintained until February _ just one month! _ and by July the percentage is down to just 50.

I am not against anybody or saying that New Year resolutions count for nothing. Resolutions are a sign of commitment _ showing that you dare to move from just wanting to actually trying them out. The same study revealed that those who put their resolution plans in ink are 10 times more likely to succeed than those who secretly want to change.

Yes, I have had my share of such resolutions. The past five years, it's been part of my New Year ritual to write resolutions at the back the daily planner that I buy new every year.

But before that, at the year's end, I review the resolutions list from the year before and, needless to say, feel worse every time I do it. Then I recycle resolutions that remained unfulfilled, carrying them into the new year. In those five years, the list has grown longer and longer.

For this year, my resolution is to stop making New Year resolutions. I call it "New Year Resolutions: No More". Am I giving up? I do not know. I believe no one really stops wanting to become a better person, to fix and mend things they have broken along the way.

Indeed, it is human nature to reinvent yourself. I just came up with a new tactic. Instead of going by the Christian calendar and waiting until January to make a resolution, I made mine much earlier _ back in July last year.

I simply think we do not need to wait for January to set new goals to become a new person.

I bet our ancestors might have made their resolutions after the Songkran Festival in April, and the Chinese theirs in February. And I believe we should adopt our own cycle to start our transformation.

I do not know whether my "New Year Resolution: No More" goal will bear fruit. But at least I have achieved one goal by walking away from the 92% group _ the percentage of those who, according to the study, are doomed to forget their New Year resolutions.

I also made a small step towards saving my earnings by not buying new shoes, new organisers and new gadgets in the pursuit of a new me. I just deleted the "New Year, New You" promotion despite its offer of up to 50% discounts on new gadgets and products that promise to make me better _ a much better person in the year 2013.


Anchalee Kongrut is a feature writer for Life, currently based in Beijing on the FK journalist exchange programme.

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Writer: Anchalee Kongrut
Position: News Reporter