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New Year’s Resolutions | Wish list or Action plan


New Year’s Resolutions | Wish list or Action plan

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New Year’s resolution is usually a decision to do or not do something in order to accomplish a personal task or break a negative habit most times. It comes at a time when people review the past year and make an effort to improve themselves as the new year begins. This is common among the adult folks.

Some known New Year resolutions such as “I will quit smoking” or ” will stop womanizing” or “attend church regularly” or “fast once a week” or “attend mid-week service”, I am sure these resolutions looks and sounds familiar. These are resolutions not goals. As we come to the end of the Year 2016 and embrace the new year-2017 with great hope and aspirations, it’s important we engage our faculties in setting achievable and measurable goals for 2017. Please read my last publication on “Art of Goal Setting” for a guide. New Year resolutions are simply a “wish-list”, there’s need to be deliberate about goal setting, measurement and attainment of goals set.

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A New Year’s resolution is a tradition, most common in the Western Hemisphere but also found in the Eastern Hemisphere, in which a person makes a promise to do an act of self-improvement or something slightly nice, such as opening doors for people beginning from New Year’s Day.

As mentioned earlier, New Year celebrations began in pre-Christian times, beginning with the Babylonians in March but changed to January by the Romans. January gets its name from Janus, the two-faced god who looks backwards into the old year and forwards into the new. Janus was also the patron and protector of arches , gates, doors, doorways, endings and beginnings. He was also the patron of bridges and we see this statue set on the bridge  which crosses the Tiber River in Rome to Tiber Island, where it survives from its original construction in 62 BC during the time of Julius Caesar. Even today it is believed that if you touch the Janus head as you cross the bridge, it will bring good fortune.

The custom of setting “New Year’s resolutions” began during this period in Rome two millennia ago, as they made such resolutions with a moral flavor: mostly to be good to others. But when the Roman Empire took Christianity as its official state religion in the 4th century, these moral intentions were replaced by prayers and fasting. For example, Christians chose to observe the Feast of the Circumcision on January 1 in place of the revelry otherwise indulged in by those who did not share the faith. This replacement had varying degrees of success over the centuries, and Christians hesitated observing some of the New Year practices associated with honoring the pagan god Janus.

As we’ve described elsewhere, even as recently as the 17th century, Puritans in Colonial America avoided the indulgences associated with New Year’s celebrations and other holidays. In the 18th century, Puritans avoiding even naming Janus. Instead they called January “First Month.”

In contrast to this, the Puritans urged their children to skip the revelry and instead spend their time reflecting on the year past and contemplating the year to come. In this way they adopted again the old custom of making resolutions. These were enumerated as commitments to better employ their talents, treat their neighbors with charity, and avoid their habitual sins.

The great American theologian Jonathan Edwards, brought up in New England Puritan culture, took the writing of resolutions to an art form. But he did not write his resolutions on a single day. Rather, during a two-year period when he was about 19 or 20years following his graduation from Yale, he compiled some 70 resolutions on various aspects of his life, which he committed to reviewing each week.

Here are just three:

  • Resolved, in narrations never to speak anything but the pure and simple verity.
  • Resolved, never to speak evil of any, except I have some particular good call for it.
  • Resolved, always to do what I can towards making, maintaining and establishing peace, when it can be without over-balancing detriment in other respects.

 At watch-night services, many Christians prepare for the year ahead by praying and making these resolutions. This tradition has many other religious parallels. During Judaism’s New Year, Rosh Hashanah, through the High Holidays and culminating in Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), one is to reflect upon one’s wrongdoings over the year and both seek and offer forgiveness. People can act similarly during the Christian liturgical season of Lent, although the motive behind this holiday is more of sacrifice than of responsibility. In fact, the practice of New Year’s resolutions came, in part, from the Lenten sacrifices. The concept, regardless of creed, is to reflect upon self-improvement annually.

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                                                                         GOALS vs RESOLUTIONS

Goals and Resolutions are two words that are often confusing for many people, especially during New Years’ time. One is a Plan while the other is Hope. If you’re like most people, you enter the new year with high hopes and aspirations of losing weight, stopping a bad habit, or investing more money in a business. Then life happens, as it always does, as it always will. We get busy – We get distracted – Our resolutions usually fall by the wayside by the second month. However, when we set realistic Goals and there’s a process to achieve your New Year’s resolution, amazing things will happen not only in your personal life, but also in your business, family and people around you.

The objective of a New Year Resolution is to make some changes in a person’s life. However, many people end up setting goals instead of resolutions, which they still break. Goals differ from resolutions in many ways. Many people do not realize the distinction between goals and resolution as they are really similar, both include making some changes or following a different pattern from what the person has been doing now. However, they differ in terms of duration and what exactly they are. 

If there is a specific achievement it’s a goal, but permanent changes to your life are resolutions since you keep doing them every day and not just until a specific achievement is reached. People make resolutions to shore up some shortcoming in their lives. Resolutions are not as powerful as goals because goals, when set right, include a mechanism of accountability and measurement that move you toward some desirable outcome. You gain much more power and accelerate your progress when you strive for something positive rather than trying to avoid that thing you don’t want to happen (again).

Let’s review some resolution against goals:

Resolution examples are:

  • To spend less time on social media things
  • To read some great books
  • To lose weight
  • To make more friends
  • To make more money

Here are those same resolutions turned into a more powerful goal:

  • I will check my email 3 times daily and reply to everything I can immediately. I will spend 1 hour per day on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and browsing. I had to delete my BBM profile to eliminate distractions.
  • I will spend 1 hour per day reading. I will start with Good to Great by Jim Collins and I will finish it in January and start another book in February, which I will have selected by January 15th.
  • I currently weigh 200 pounds. I will adjust my diet (more detail here) and exercise one hour daily to weigh 260 pounds by 12/31/2011.
  • I will ask two of my friends to introduce me to two of their friends I don’t currently know.
  • I will partner with others to come up with a business proposal in agriculture, transport or betting company. The proposed income from these business is projected at N1Million per month, per quarter or bi-annual.


                                                                          KEY SUCCESS FACTOR

A 2007 study by Richard Wise-man from the University of Bristol involving 3,000 people showed that 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail, despite the fact that 52% of the study’s participants were confident of success at the beginning. Men achieved their goal 22% more often when they engaged in goal setting, (a system where small measurable goals are being set; such as, a pound a week, instead of saying “lose weight”), while women succeeded 10% more when they got support from their family and  friends.

The most common reason for participants failing their New Years’ Resolutions was setting themselves unrealistic goals (35%), while 33% didn’t keep track of their progress and a further 23% forgot about it. About one in 10 respondents claimed they made too many resolutions.

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I will like to share part of my 2016 goals. One of my major goals for 2016 goals is my weight management program. I came up with a robust plan to reduce my weight and keep a healthy lifestyle. My plan included the following for achievement:

  • Stopping late nights food;
  • Reduce/eliminate in-take of sugary substance and soft drinks;
  • Reduce carbohydrate by 50%;
  • Extensive work-out session (run/ jog 5km daily) in the gym 5-6days a week;
  • Have a gym mate for motivation.

The result has been tremendous. I have lost 28kg year-to-date and still working on it from 120kg to 92kg. My 2016 weight target is 90kg. I had to change my reading habit and the medium used for reading to gain traction. I also had to detoxify my relationships.

Please take this away, make sure your goals are designed with what you truly desire and have in mind for yourself , not others. Don’t let others expectations of you dictate your goals.

Merry Christmas and Glorious New Year……

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'Biodun Adegoke is a seasoned banker, a structured finance and funds management expert. Partner at BoisConcept Ltd - Nigeria's foremost franchise company with interest in Energy, Export, Real Estate Development and Infrastructure Financing. His experience in Banking spans from Organisation Systems Analysis, Design and Operations, Sales and Credit.

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