January 01, 2016

A slacker's guide to 'following' New Year's Resolutions

(If you're lagging behind your resolutions, technically you're following them. Congrats already! Where there is a will, there is an excuse. Presenting five of my most effective ones.)

New Year has kicked in and you must be armed with a list of resolutions that you're determined to see through this year. You're pumped up, commitment is at an all-time high and you know like you know that unlike previous years, you're gonna stick to your plan.

Whom are we kidding? Even while vowing to do (or not do) something, we know clearly in the back of our mind that the resolve to stick to the resolution is gonna disappear just like the friends who promised to stay back to help you do the dishes after the party. Benefit from my expert tips on how to go about this whole resolution business.

1. Leave margin for error
Don't be too hard on yourself. Most people are adamant they'll begin following the new regime right from Day 1. That's where they err, by overwhelming themselves. There may be slips, and let them be. Suppose you promised yourself you'd stay away from liquor this year. After a week of sticking to the plan, you may find yourself raising a toast to celebrate sobriety. Happens. Force of habit. And old habits die hard. Don't let that embarrass you. Restart. Cheers to that!

2. Procrastinate, if need be
Never mind if your plan got derailed after a week or 10 days. If your friends troll you over it, tell them it was the trial run that failed. That you believe Makar Sankranti (January 14) to be the actual new year according to the Hindu calendar. Or if you feel like you need more time to get started, take your time. Chinese New Year is on February 8. Or, you can start following your resolution from Malayalam New Year, Vishu. It falls sometime in April. So you can be mentally prepared to embrace the lifestyle change you want to bring about. I'd put Ugadi/Gudi Padwa too in the list, but it falls around Vishu. Get innovative if you need more time. Holi, Diwali, Christmas, you can assign any festival as your starting point. If anybody cries foul, call them intolerant.

3. Rephrase your resolutions
If you choose to follow the above two points, your mind might congratulate you on finding a loophole but this guilty conscience doesn't forgive. It sits pretty on moral high ground and pokes you from there. There's a solution for this also: rephrase your resolution. Instead of saying "I'll go to gym every day," or "I will not even touch junk food," let your resolutions be "I'll think of going to gym every day," and "I will try not to have much of pizza and burgers when they offer heavy discount, such as buy 1-get 1." This way, if you succeed in hitting the treadmill, you should congratulate yourself for exceeding your expectations. In case you can't go to gym for a few days, you'd at least have thought of it. So resolution fulfilled, guilty conscience etc taken care of. 

4. Get a partner-in-crime
Birds of a wing flock together. And they should. Find yourself a partner whose commitment level is similar to yours. If you're a go-getter, disciplined person and have a slacker for a friend, he/she might pull you down by the sheer magnetism of the all-powerful laziness they revel in. Or, if you're one of those who take it easy but have a friend who's committed to their goal like Kim Kardashian and Kanye West are committed to each other, you may find their determination overwhelming you and demoralising you. Stay friends with such people, but don't discuss your resolutions with them. Find someone who's in your league.

5. Don't tell social media
Why'd you want to put yourself under pressure by declaring on Facebook that you plan to quit smoking! Or that you'll get fit or get up early morning instead of staying up till early mornings. The next time you're standing with your colleagues who're fagging and you naturally begin to crave a puff, you'll be left just feeling sorry for yourself. Helpless. Facebook friends are trolls-in-waiting. They are like sharks that smell blood the moment you announce your resolutions. Beware! You might not want to give them a chance to put you down when the inevitable happens.

On a serious note...
The bottomline is, stay realistic. It's definitely good to aim to get fit, to quit smoking, eat healthy etc, it's important that you don't overwhelm yourself. Psychologists say most people fail to stick to their resolutions because they were not committed to it in the first place. Don't confuse your wish with your resolution. Don't expect to get ripped in three-four months, but do hope to get in a better shape. Choose practical goals, only a few, and focus your energy on them. Like I said above, old habits die hard. Got to kill them harder. That needs perseverance. And that is available only to those who are genuinely committed to their goals. Bringing in lifestyle changes needs deep commitment, and it will come only over a period of time. Maybe after a couple of failed attempts. Keep going, hardwork always pays off.