Millions of Rwandans sing or attempt to sing, “Auld Lang Syne” at the beginning of a new year. And while most of us probably never knew that “Auld Lang Syne” literally means “the good old days,” we have historically practiced what the age-old song preached. We all, at one time or another, have attempted to say goodbye to some aspect of the good old days.
Littered with bad habits and good intentions, the good old days, when we could eat what we wanted, do what we wanted and say what we wanted are as brief as they are memorable. As good as those times may seem while we are living them, it often leaves us with a body and soul in need of improvements, upgrades, a little tweaking here and there.
Historically, we have used the New Year to make up our minds to change something in our lives. Sometimes it’s personal goals relating to character growth, or health goals relating to exercise, diet and overall well-being. Other times its financial resolutions, career goals or even improvements related to spiritual growth.
The year is half way and unfortunately, according to one survey, more than half of the people who make New Year’s resolutions break them within two months. So what separates those who are able to keep their resolution from others who fall short? Perhaps it’s to simply understand the steps that lead to a successful resolution and the pitfalls the doom it.
Don’t frame your resolution in absolutes. Saying such things as “I will never do X, Y or Z again” is a sure way to fail. Once you word your resolution that way, you leave yourself with no effective coping strategies to deal with problems that will inevitably come up.
Make sure it’s your resolution. Making successful resolutions is all about ownership and authenticity. If a goal is truly your own, you will take pride in it. If it is a hand-me-down version of someone else’s vision, it will be virtually impossible for you to muster up enough commitment for it to succeed.
Realize that achieving resolutions requires time. Developing bad habits didn’t happen overnight, and consequently, changing old habits and developing new ones won’t happen overnight. In today’s age of instant pleasure or what my friends term as “rural excitement”, we often expect immediate results. But if change was easy, wouldn’t everybody do it?
Bring someone along for the ride. Find a friend, co-worker, family member or companion to either commit to the same resolution, or commit to helping you achieve your resolution.
Tell family and friends to urge, provoke and encourage you. Pick their brains for words of wisdom that may help you in achieving your goals. Encouragement from others and knowing that you will let someone else down if you don’t achieve your goal is sometimes enough to prompt you to keep your resolution.
Commit to the bit. Be clear on what you want to achieve. Make a resolution that you have every intention of keeping. Without commitment, you might as well say goodbye to your resolution.
Remember that persistence can pay off. Of the people who achieved their resolution, less than half did so on the first attempt. The rest made multiple tries, with a small percentage finally succeeding after more than six attempts.
In the end, it doesn’t matter how many times you try, as long as when it’s all said and done, you can say goodbye to “Auld Lang Syne.”