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Bored resolutions

IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE - Rod Nepomuceno -
Okay, so here we are again – the beginning of another year. All right, I’ll try not to bore you with the whole "Wow, time really flies so fast" litany. Everyone’s saying that (even if everyone knows it already).

I’m not sure if it’s ever been proven scientifically, but I’ll bet that if someone actually did take the time and effort to measure, it would be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that after you reach the "age of jadedness" (which is roughly around your 30th birthday), every year passes faster than the previous year. And even if you aren’t counting birthdays, you’ll know when you’ve reached that age. It’s that stage when you start getting confused over past New Years – i.e., you can no longer tell which New Year is which. You hear your friends and peers saying things like "Hmm, what New Year was it again when that Sinturon ni Hudas ricocheted into your open car window and caused your new BMW to burst into flames? Was that 1999 or 2002?" or "Was it New Year 1998 or 2001 when that buck-toothed geeky boyfriend of yours dumped you for that bow-legged bimbo?" These types of conversations are very common in my age group. It’s quite scary, if you ask me. When these conversations happen, you know that Alzheimer’s is just around the corner.

Despite the early signs of memory loss, however, there are still a lot of things about past New Years that I remember quite vividly, especially the New Years when I was a kid. I remember my uncles and aunties constantly encouraging everyone to wear something with polka dots during the New Year reunion. It was supposed to bring "luck and wealth." Obviously, I had the fashion sense not to follow my uncles and aunties because so far, luck and wealth have eluded me (well, not totally – I’ve had my share of blessings, thank God).

I also remember my uncles and aunties telling us gullible kids, "Hey, don’t forget, at the stroke of midnight, jump as high as you can repeatedly so you’ll be taller." And like a bunch of idiots, we’d jump up and down at the stroke of midnight. I didn’t grow up to be as tall as Yao Ming, as I had hoped (that guy probably jumped a whole lot during Chinese New Year). But luckily, I did grow up to be reasonably tall. Well, at least tall enough to have the confidence to go out on dates without feeling too insecure about my height. My brothers and sisters were fortunate, too. But oddly, I have some cousins I jumped with who are still, er, "vertically challenged." Some of them are in their 40s now – and they’re still jumping every New Year. I don’t know. I’m beginning to think that this whole "jump as high as you can at midnight on New Year’s Eve" routine has nothing to do with how tall you eventually become. Could it be possible that maybe, just maybe, genetics has something to do with it? Hmm…

One of the other things that I remember about past New Years was my parents requiring us to come up with New Year’s resolutions. I remember this quite clearly because I wasn’t such a big fan of this whole exercise. For one thing, it compromised my right against self-incrimination. If I wrote a resolution like, "I resolve to be a good boy," it necessarily implied that I was a bad boy during the past year. It exposed me to further interrogation. For example, one New Year’s, we were told to make a list of resolutions. I wrote, "I resolve not to accidentally strangle the pet ducklings of my older brother Nilo."

New Year’s resolutions were never meant to be confessions to crimes. But somehow, with that resolution I made, Nilo had the necessary evidence to pin me down. Right then and there, I was indicted, tried and convicted of "Third-Degree Duck Murder." All because I had the good sense to write down a resolution. Darn.

But seriously, though, there used to be a time when people actually listed down New Year’s resolutions. Normally, these resolutions had something to do with changing one’s bad habits, with the goal of improving oneself, e.g., "I will work out more regularly," "I will eat more healthy foods," "I will be more organized," "I will be more patient with my staff," or "I will be more conscientious about my work."

I may be wrong, but it seems to me that there’s less of this New-Year’s-resolution thing going on compared to say, 10 or 15 years ago. Again, I could be speaking on behalf of my age group, so I’m not really sure. Maybe as you get older, you do fewer New Year’s resolutions because you know it’s futile to change yourself as you age. But I’m not sure if this is going on among young people as well. It seems to me that New Year’s resolutions have given in to the more popular "accept me as I am" mentality. Nowadays, it seems cooler to say, "Hey, this is how I am, so deal with it," rather than "I realize my faults. I promise to try my best to make myself a better person." So in the process, New Year’s resolutions are no longer taken seriously. If ever we did make New Year’s resolutions, they’d be half-hearted. Personally, I call them "bored resolutions." We make them – but we don’t promise to keep them.

Why is this happening? Well, maybe because competition in this world has become more cutthroat. In this day and age when everyone wants to take advantage of every opportunity, no one wants to ever admit fault. I mean, why expose your weakness, right? Someone might take advantage. Let’s face it, in the corporate world, there will only be a handful of people who will willingly and honestly admit failure and say that they need to improve. Sure, there will be some admission to faults, but not too much. I don’t think there will be a lot of executives out there who will say, "I have not given my 100-percent effort to achieve the company’s goals. I promise to work harder next year." During interviews or evaluations, when you ask executives what their negative points are, they’ll usually say things like, "I’m too driven," or "I’m too passionate," or "I’m too demanding of myself," or "I’m a workaholic." I don’t know about you, but if you ask me, these sound more like positive points rather than faults. We’ve certainly learned the art of spin, haven’t we?

I don’t care what age it is. For me, whether it’s the Stone Age or the Digital Age, there is always something we can improve on, even when we’re already 90 years old. So New Year’s resolutions can never be passé. It’s always good to start fresh, and commit to a promise to improve yourself. So just like in corporate board meetings, pass a resolution to yourself. And when you do, here’s a code in making effective resolutions: A.S.A.P. – that is, Achievable, Simple/Specific, Assertive, and Positive.

Don’t come up with a resolution like "This year, I’m going to have six-pack tummy" when right now, what you have is a jiggling 10-liter keg. Start with an achievable goal – e.g., "I will lose 15 pounds this year" or "I will jog for 20 minutes three times a week. "These are doable acts that can lead you to that oh-so-desirable six-pack goal.

Don’t come up with a resolution like, "I resolve to make the world a better place." Who do you think you are, Angelina Jolie? Sure, that’s a nice thought, but it’s simply too vague. Instead, your resolution can be something like, "I will do one charitable act for one poor person every day." Simple and specific. Measurable, too. And if you miss out on one day, make up for it and do at least two charitable acts the next day.

Your resolution can’t be lame. It has to be forceful. Avoid resolutions like "I’ll try to attempt to make an effort to take a crack at doing good most of the time." Instead, say something forceful, like "I will stop smoking… now." You can’t get more assertive than that.

Your resolution has to be something that will make a positive impact, both on you and/or society. For example, don’t make a resolution like "I will discard non-biodegradable cups anywhere I want," or "I will start smoking pot today." No positive impact with those resolutions.

For my part, my resolution is, "I’ll be more regular with my column" (I know I have missed out on some weeks). Hope there’s enough A.S.AP. in that resolution.
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