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Why are some New Year’s resolutions easier to keep than others? IMAGE: UNSPLASH

My Love-Hate Relationship With New Year’s Resolutions: Why I’ve Committed To Some and Given Up On Others

Ah, the ol' New Year's Day conundrum—it can sometimes feel like Groundhog Day, doesn’t it? Every year, we start with a burst of motivation, excitedly jotting down our grand resolutions, only to find them gathering dust as the year races to an end.

It's like a love-hate relationship with those well-intentioned promises we make to ourselves. But what if Singaporeans have cracked the code and are slaying those resolutions left and right?

A previous survey by Great Eastern revealed that more than half of those polled honoured their New Year resolutions. Well, colour me surprised. Perhaps, like most things, we Singaporeans just can’t help but want to be the best at it.

But the question remains: why are some resolutions easier to keep than others? Are we pressured to do so by our peers and loved ones? Perhaps this whole “New Year, New Me” plays into the human tendency to want to start afresh.

In my experience, it boils down to self-discipline and the conviction to achieve those goals in the first place. If the “why” is not strong enough, is it any wonder why you won’t be able to see it through?

Looking back at the past resolutions that I’ve achieved over the years, I start to notice a pattern as well. Here are a few examples:

Successful New Year’s resolutions

Achieved at least five-figure savings in a year

It felt like a daunting task when I first wrote down this goal at the start of 2023. Growing up in a low-income family, I’ve always struggled for financial independence. I often lived paycheck to paycheck throughout my 20s when I was juggling a full-time job and a part-time degree.

But with my student loan finally paid up and my 30th birthday fast approaching, I had no more excuses. It was time to knuckle and achieve my financial goals.

I was so focused and fixated on the objective that it was inevitable that I would crush it. The desire to see the resolution through, coupled with a few money habits that I incorporated along the way, helped me hit five figures with months to spare. It definitely felt like a turning point in my life, and it gave me the confidence to carry the momentum to this day.

It just goes to show that having clarity in your resolutions and strong motivation will help push you across the finish line.

Overcome my fear of driving overseas

On the subject of goals, another resolution I had was to go on a maiden drive overseas. I’ve always dreamt of one day going on an epic road trip, traversing a mountainous countryside, or cruising down a coastal highway. Basically, scenery you won’t see in Singapore.

However, given the fact that I’ve never even driven to JB, the mere thought of attempting such a feat felt insurmountable at best. However, I vividly recalled watching a TikTok video on New Year’s Eve where some dude shot a montage of himself driving across Great Ocean Road in Melbourne, Australia, and I was sold.

Booking my tickets and car rental reservation as soon as January 1st hit was one way to ensure I had no chance of backing out of my resolution.

I told myself at some point that I needed to get out of the relative safety and predictability of Singapore’s roads and take a ride on the wild side. Thankfully, the potential regret eventually outweighed the fear.

And let me tell you, it was one of the best things I ever did. I suppose impulsive decisions can be a good thing sometimes, especially when it comes to committing to a New Year’s resolution.

Wrestle my first pro wrestling match

Let me preface this by stating that I am the furthest thing from an athlete. But as a diehard WWE fan, I’ve always wondered what it would be like to step into the middle of the ring.

It was one of those fantasy pipe dreams that I never actually expected to become a reality. But when the opportunity presented itself, I couldn’t say no.

TLDR: I co-host Singapore’s premier pro wrestling podcast, Kick To The Gut, where I occasionally interview wrestlers and promote their shows. So the story goes that one of the wrestlers from local promotion Grapplemax "challenged" me to put my money where my mouth is and face him inside the squared circle.

It was actually a storyline, as my opponent, Dennis “The Ladykiller” Hui, would in fact be training me for my debut match.

As far as resolution goes, I remembered laughing at the sheer ridiculousness of this particular one. But it sure excited me. This was probably what kept me going through the tough training and conquering the fear that I would humiliate myself in front of an audience. The learning lesson here is to choose goals that you find thrilling and perhaps a bit out-of-the box. When people least expect you to succeed, that is when you tend to rise to the occasion the most.

New Year’s resolutions that failed

Lose X kg in a year

On the flip side, there have been some resolutions that I repeat every year but that always fail to come to fruition. Chief among them is trying to lose weight. Yes, yes, I am one of those pesky January gym goers. In fact, I even signed up for an Anytime Fitness membership at the start of 2023, with the intention of committing to a regular gym routine.

Fast forward a year; let’s just say AF is laughing all the way to the bank with those underutilised fees. Upon reflection, maybe my mistake was to proclaim an arbitrary number of kilos that I wanted to lose. It created unnecessary pressure for me and ended up being counterproductive.

Knowing I was someone who needed a trainer or community to keep me accountable, I knew that going to the gym alone wasn’t going to cut it. Yet, I didn’t bother to make those changes, and the lack of discipline eventually came back to haunt me.

Exercising can be a painful and arduous process. But it doesn’t have to be mind-numbingly dull or lonely. It’s a resolution I hope to revisit in 2024, this time with a better strategy and intention.

A better work-life balance

I realised, upon reflection, that the goal was too vague when I first wrote it down. I didn’t take the time to define what it means to me personally. Perhaps that was why I didn’t take this resolution seriously.

Moreover, after transitioning to a new job at the tail end of the previous year, I actually experienced more stress and eventually over-stretched myself in wanting to do well.

I wish I was clearer about what I wanted to accomplish. Perhaps something specific, like taking short vacations every quarter or ensuring I don’t reply to work emails after office hours. While striving to progress in your career is never a bad thing, it shouldn’t come at the expense of your mental health. Here’s to a healthier 2024.

Be more present as a person

This is an ongoing work in progress. I've been called out previously for not being attentive during conversations and for my tendency to lose focus. My girlfriend can attest to this. While I haven’t been medically diagnosed with ADHD, the traits I exhibit feel rather similar.

While I've made strides in this regard to be present in my interactions, I don't believe it’s at the level that I'm satisfied with. But then again, putting it down as merely a New Year’s resolution is severely underestimating the work that needs to be put in.

Incremental steps are better than none, and in 2024, I will endeavour to be kinder to myself and keep moving forward with confidence.

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