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New Year resolutions are a waste of time according to experts

The start of the year is often the perfect time to turn a new page in your life, which is why so many people make New Year’s resolutions. But as days turn into weeks and weeks into months, the resolutions are trashed as people slip back into bad behavior.

Dr Frank Njenga, a renowned Nairobi psychiatrist, advises that “all you need is lifestyle change, a date doesn’t mean anything, 31st to 1st is just like any other Thursday to Friday”.

But why do so many people have a hard time keeping their resolutions?

According to Paul Mbatia, a professor of Sociology and the deputy vice chancellor of Multimedia University, people make resolutions with good intentions, but only a tiny fraction of us keep our resolutions.

BACKSLIDING

Researchers who have looked at success rates of peoples’ resolutions estimate the first two weeks usually go along beautifully, but by February people start backsliding. And by the following December most people are back where they started often, even further behind.

Prof Mbatia estimates that approximately 50 per cent of the population makes resolutions each New Year.

Among the top resolutions he says, are weight loss, exercise, stopping smoking, better money management and for men it’s to stop drinking or having mpago wa kando.

Here are the top New Year resolutions that people will never keep:

1. To do more – When ushering in the New Year many people promise themselves to in the coming year and yet they fail. Dr Njenga, says, “There is no difference between the 31st and 1st, it’s like any other Thursday to Friday.” He advises for people to stick to their routine.

2. Get organized – It is one of the few and easy to set goals at. You want everything to be organize, if you have a messy house or office the first thing you will do is promise yourself that you get organized. Prof Mbatia adds, “The reason why many people are not able to keep to their resolutions is because of habits, which are usually the basis for the resolutions, and are difficult to escape from.”

3. Losing weight – Given that losing weight or going to the gym is embraced by many people, it is therefore necessary to identify how people can keep to their resolutions. Prof Mbatia says, “To be able to meet your goals you have to be able to sustain what it is that you are investing in, you will need energy and time.”

According to both Dr Mbatia and Dr Njenga the single most common New Year’s resolution is to lose weight. For starters, “losing weight” is not very specific. So, if you want to make it more feasible, try aiming for those instead.

4. Quit smoking/drinking– It is a favourite to many smokers, if you ask anyone who smokes they will tell you that the first thing that they will do in January is quit smoking. “This kind of behavour is not easy to stop, instead of quitting all at one start by smoking less per day,” advises Dr Mbatia. He goes on to give examples of people who always say that they will stop drinking in the new year, “yet the generation that we have lacks discipline in what they do, they always want everything to be achieved in a hurry”.

5. Spend less and save more – If there’s one resolution that’s ripe for big promises and crushing failure, it is the vague intent to do better with your finances. Whether it is to “spend less money” or a promise to “save more”, Dr Mbatia advises that “first you have to invest in what you want to achieve and if you lack discipline, then you will not achieve what you want, if luck dispilne you will not achieve your goals.”

6. Enjoy Life, Worry Less, Be Happier – According to Dr Njenga, with just a lifestyle change you might be begin detecting a pattern. Despite being vague and directionless, resolutions like “enjoy life” and “worry less” maintain top-of-the-chart status. Fortunately, they are not impractical. “They just need a bit of direction,” he adds.

7. Being a better person – Despite being one of the most common resolution every year, it is terribly unspecific, says Dr Mbatia. Resolutions in general are aimed at improving yourself, so saying you resolve to “be a better person” is a bit like saying you “resolve to resolve something,” adds Dr Njenga.

8. Promises you cannot make – Dr Kobia gives an example of being realistic, don’t say: “I’m going to write a book in 2016.” Do say: “I’m going to start writing a book on holiday, get about 8,000 words in before taking a few days off to think about how I might spend the film-rights money, then suddenly have another, even better, idea for a book, then give up on both projects in order to spend the days feeling bad about myself.” It’s all about setting achievable, incremental targets and sticking to them, he observes.

“Any resolution you made while drunk or crying on New Year’s Eve doesn’t count, even if that resolution was to stop getting drunk and crying at New Year’s Eve parties. Forget about it. Actually, you probably have,” Dr Njenga concludes.

HILARY KIMUYU [email protected] @hilarykimuyu
The start of the year is often the perfect time to turn a new page in your life, which is why so many people make New Year’s resolutions.But as days turn into weeks and weeks into months, the resolutions are trashed as people slip back into bad behavior.
Dr Frank Njenga, a renowned Nairobi psychiatrist, advises that “all you need is lifestyle change, a date doesn’t mean anything, 31st to 1st is just like any other Thursday to Friday.
But why do so many people have a hard time keeping their resolutions?
According to Paul Mbatia, a professor of Sociology and the deputy vice chancellor of Multi Media University, people make resolutions with good intentions, but only a tiny fraction of us keep our resolutions.
Researchers who have looked at success rates of peoples’ resolutions estimate the first two weeks usually go along beautifully, but by February people start backsliding. And by the following December most people are back where they started often, even further behind.
Prof Mbatia estimates that approximately 50 per cent of the population makes resolutions each New Year.
Among the top resolutions he says, are weight loss, exercise, stopping smoking, better money management and for men it’s to stop drinking or having mpago wa kando.
Here are the top New Year resolutions that people will never keep:
1. To do more – When ushering in the New Year many people promise themselves to in the coming year and yet they fail. Dr Njenga, says, “There is no difference between the 31st and 1st, it’s like any other Thursday to Friday. He advises for people to stick to their routine.
2. Get organized – It is one of the few and easy to set goals at. You want everything to be organize, if you have a messy house or office the first thing you will do is promise yourself that you get organized.Prof Mbatia adds, “The reason why many people are not able to keep to their resolutions is because of habits, which are usually the basis for the resolutions, and are difficult to escape from.”
3. Losing weight – Given that losing weight or going to the gym is embraced by many people, it is therefore necessary to identify how people can keep to their resolutions. Prof Mbatia says, “To be able to meet your goals you have to be able to sustain what it is that you are investing in, you will need energy and time.”
According to both Dr Mbatia and Dr Njenga the single most common New Year’s resolution is to lose weight. For starters, “losing weight” is not very specific. So, if you want to make it more feasible, try aiming for those instead.
4. Quit smoking/drinking– It is a favourite to many smokers, if you ask anyone who smokes they will tell you that the first thing that they will do in January is quit smoking. “This kind of behavour is not easy to stop, instead of quitting all at one start by smoking less per day, advises Dr Mbatia. He goes on to give examples of people who always say that they will stop drinking in the new year, yet the generation that we have lacks discipline in what they do, they always want everything to be achieved in a hurry.
5. Spend less and save more – If there’s one resolution that’s ripe for big promises and crushing failure, it is the vague intent to do better with your finances. Whether it is to “spend less money” or a promise to “save more”, Dr Mbatia advises that “first you have to invest in what you want to achieve and if you lack discipline, then you will not achieve what you want, if luck dispilne you will not achieve your goals.”
6. Enjoy Life, Worry Less, Be Happier – According to Dr Njenga, withjust a lifestyle change you might be begin detecting a pattern. Despite being vague and directionless, resolutions like “enjoy life” and “worry less” maintain top-of-the-chart status. Fortunately, theyare not impractical. They just need a bit of direction,” he adds.
7. Being a better person – Despite being one of the most common resolution every year, it is terribly unspecific, says Dr Mbatia.Resolutions in general are aimed at improving yourself, so saying you resolve to “be a better person” is a bit like saying you “resolve to resolve something,” adds Dr Njenga.
8. Promises you cannot make – Dr Kobia gives an example of being realistic, don’t say: “I’m going to write a book in 2016.” Do say: “I’m going to start writing a book on holiday, get about 8,000 words in before taking a few days off to think about how I might spend the film-rights money, then suddenly have another, even better, idea for a book, then give up on both projects in order to spend the days feeling bad about myself.” It’s all about setting achievable, incremental targets and sticking to them, he observes.
Any resolution you made while drunk or crying on New Year’s Eve doesn’t count, even if that resolution was to stop getting drunk and crying at New Year’s Eve parties. Forget about it. Actually, you probably have,” Dr Njenga concludes.