With barely four days to the end of the year, some Nigerians have started reflecting on the changes they want or need to make in the incoming year. By most accounts, public opinions have shown that New Year’s resolutions are easier said than fulfilled. There are divergent views on whether or not such resolutions made by individuals are adhered to religiously by them at the end.
Now, as another year approaches, several people in various gatherings will resolve to drop, add or change some values in their life styles.
Opinions indicate that only few of these resolutions are firm while the rest are said just to satisfy righteousness.
For instance, on Dec. 31, 2011, at a Christian vigil, Mr D.I. made a resolution to quit smoking he had been addicted to for almost 20 years, but barely four months into the New Year, he found smoking more interesting than when he quit.
At the same service, a lady, Miss L.O. resolved that she would stop making trips to a West African country to do a certain business because of the risk involved. She said she has been sustaining the resolution since then.
Why do people see the need to make resolutions they may or may not be able to adhere to?
The Islamic Forum online stipulates that the New Year is a good time for Muslims to renew the resolutions they made during Ramadan.
According to it, a list of resolutions, including spiritual, physical and mental practices, should be written down so that one can refer to them throughout the year.
"Everyone seems to have a bad habit that harms his or her health, such as drinking, smoking and overeating.
"Keep in mind that any activity that is forbidden in Islam is unhealthy and that any activity that starts to become an addiction is also unhealthy, make a pledge to yourself to identify your addictions and stop them.
"In many cases in the Qur’an and Hadith, it is mentioned that you do not actually have to perform a bad act to be affected by it. Muslims are encouraged to hang out with people they would like to emulate and not with those that are bad influence on them," it was stated.
The essence of making resolutions is underscored by the desire of mankind to re-assess and re-align some patterns of life for better, according to Pastor John Abiodun of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Abuja.
He believes that some people, at a point, perceive they have moved away from what they should be known for or what they ought not to have been doing and when they realise this, they resort to making resolutions.
"Of course, an occasion such as the eve of a new year presents a unique opportunity for making resolutions because of the belief that the old way of life is cast aside.
"It ought to be a spontaneous confession to the realities of individual’s life-style and a strong determination to maintain whatever is said to be done," the Pastor noted.
He, however, observes that more than 90% of the resolutions made by various people are short-lived.
"I believe the reason for this is lack of adequate preparation and strong determination to tame some of the activities that hinder the resolutions to be firm.
"For instance, if somebody says he wants to stop stealing but still finds himself in the midst of criminals, within a short time, such a person will denounce his resolution.
"Another factor is the prevailing socio-economic situation; somebody may determine to quit prostitution but later finds out that she has no good job or even jobless to fight hunger, definitely she will forget about the resolution.
"However, in every resolution we make, it requires the Grace of God and prayer for its sustainability because when we make such godly decision and commit it to God, He will provide the strength and means of sustaining it," the Pastor said.
Dr John Grohol, the founder of Psych Central in the U.S, published in a research that people who believe that self-control is something dynamic, changing and unlimited, tend to set more resolutions.
He cited the instances of those who believe "I can stop smoking, all I have to do is put my mind to it. I can also change my eating habit and be a better person, it just takes willpower".
According to him, people who believe that we all are born with a limited, set amount of self-control that one cannot change, naturally do worse on obtaining their New Year’s resolution goals.
"What this means is that you will do better on your New Year’s goals if you believe that self-control is indeed an unlimited resource that we all have access to and can leverage with our resolutions.
"The more you believe in your own capabilities, the more likely you will succeed as well; it also seems to help to set more goals, because you will be more likely to succeed at them if you do," he said. All arguments notwithstanding, psychologists have identified some tips to help keep resolutions.
The first is to make only one resolution; picking just one aspect of life to improve and increase chances of success.
They also suggest planning resolution in advance, instead of waiting until New Year’s Eve to allow for reflection on what to really want to achieve.
Another tip is to avoid repeating a previous resolution, or at least try a different technique to keep it.
However, Dr Richard Wiseman, a professor of psychology at Hertfordshire University, UK believes: "If people think they can do it, they probably can, but if they have already tried and failed, their self-belief will be low.
"By a long way, stopping smoking is the hardest, because there are physiological responses involved; it is an addiction."