What’s it about resolutions that makes people go into a fever pitch? Why do some people seem to go into a tizzy over what they plan to do — or not do — during the New Year? What’s so exciting about giving up indulging, say, your favourite chocolate or jettisoning the smoking habit or even controlling your short temper (provided one perpetually is on a short fuse)?
Perhaps it has something to do with something that someone is wired for, an annual ritual that must be observed; perhaps it is something that is de rigueur in social circles, a fashionable trait, so that you can just raise your own self-worth and boast to friends and acquaintances alike to show how serious you are about giving up on vices or ungainly qualities.
But how many are serious about keeping them? It is OK to give a grand start to the New Year with firming up your resolve not to indulge in too many fatty foods, for instance, only to see it weaken as the weeks — or days — go by. As Emirati Hessa Al Khous says, “The seriousness of these resolutions depends on the desires of that person and the type of resolutions they set for themselves.”
Telling your near and dear ones that “I am going to give up smoking” or “I will not use cuss words” itself is an indicator of your future behavioural pattern, that you are keen about being a better human being.
A cross-section of residents in the UAE give their take on their New Year resolutions and people’s commitment to them.
Shoug Al Nowais, an Emirati based in Abu Dhabi, remarks, “I don’t usually make resolutions or stick to them, for me it’s about deciding what you want to do and doing it regardless of the date! But with the New Year one hopes to make positive changes, so I will give it a try this time. My resolutions are to exercise and stop procrastinating.”
Dana Kumbaji, a Sharjah-based Lebanese national, says, “I am usually quite good at sticking to my resolutions. My New Year’s resolution for this year is to eliminate unnecessary people from my life and stop wasting so much energy on silly things. We focus so much time on petty things that sometimes we don’t see the bigger picture.”
William Dove, a British market researcher in London, says, “I think my only new year’s resolutions are to spend more time on playing my guitar and trying to learn Italian!”
For university student Amanda Abi Doumet, who hails from Lebanon, New Year resolutions have become more of an oral tradition that all cultures tend to share. “I don’t believe that people actually stick to what they say they want to do, but hopefully this year will be fruitfully different for everyone.
“My resolutions are to finish my last year in university with top honours and to make better choices in whatever I endeavour.”
Bill Bryant, managing director for regional operations of a large marine logistics company in Dubai, says: “It is usually not a great idea to make resolutions just for the New Year itself as these seldom last long — but as I usually set myself goals anyway every year, I have goals for 2013, which involve doing more cycling and exercise, restarting my scuba diving that has languished for a few years now and to work on improving my photography and guitar-playing skills.
“Outside of this I endeavour each year to concentrate on spending more time and more importantly almost better quality time with my family — always tough whilst working here in Dubai with the busy lifestyle one has here but have to work hard at this aspect all the time!!”
Emirati Hessa Al Khous, Director of Events Department, Dubai Sports Council, says, “A new year resolution is a promise made to myself at the start of the year in an effort to accomplish a set of goals laid before myself. They are generally self-improving and realistic with motivational goals.”
Hira R. a Pakistani high school student residing in Sharjah, believes in New Year resolutions because “I always seek a new start, a new beginning to test myself.”
She mentions that some people do not believe in resolutions, maybe because they are always mentally prepared for upcoming challenges.
She artfully justifies their stance, saying: “One should not feel ashamed to be different.”
To her “New Year resolutions are an opportunity to put myself in a task and at the end of the day give myself some extra credit.”
Hira adds, “A New Year resolution must be something you want, not something that sounds good. This is the main reason why most of us don’t always smell the scent of accomplishment.”
Wrapping up her arguments, she describes: “Write down your goals first. Gaining some pounds for an underweight could be on top of the list, or getting some good marks in mathematics. Remember we all already have everything that a challenger has. Good luck!”
Xenab Tahreem, also a Pakistani and a beauty consultant by profession, doesn’t believe in preparing New Year resolutions. “I personally don’t believe in New Year resolutions because what we really need is a ‘lifetime’ resolution. Because, if it’s truly worth doing, it’s probably worth living for.”
She seems confident enough and insists that “I take life as it comes.”
Asad Farid, another Pakistani expatriate, working as a manager in a private company in Abu Dhabi, opines: “Obtaining resolutions for the New Year is an easy matter but executing them isn’t an easy task. I have plenty of things which I really want to get rid of and so many things to take care of.”
Emphasising bad habits he says, “It is very strange that people only consider cigarette as a bad habit because it is not only harmful for a person who smokes but equally pollutes the entire atmosphere. However, I would say, smoking isn’t the only bad habit out of many which are infecting people and our surroundings terribly. We have to focus on other things too.”
He continues: “As far as my New Year resolutions are concerned, my family is everything for me. One of my resolutions is to try my level best to take care of them as well as I can. I’m committed to inculcate in them good manners and respect for others too.”
A well-known poetess and doctor from Pakistan, Sarwat Zahra, said: “I have been living in the UAE for the last 10 years. I enjoy the freedom and sense of security here in Sharjah. Every year we celebrate New Year with a resolution for betterment. This year’s resolution is to be smiling to everyone.”
Industrial engineer Ahmad Ataya, a Lebanese national, remarks, “Resolutions are a great way to set priorities straight and to face the New Year with an open heart and mind. My goals for the new year are to take on new challenges, engage in extracurricular activities, and meet new people.”
Kalemeera Siriiro, 25, a Rwandan assistant mechanic in Sharjah, is determined to grow stronger financially and intellectually in 2013.
“2012 has been a year of achievements. I pray to God I substantiate more of my dreams in 2013,” he said, adding that he managed to buy six cows at home.
“This year, I am looking forward to buying a piece of land and I am committed to paying for my young brother’s educational fees.
“Physically, I am also going to take on a body building diet, do more gymnastics as I want to look and feel stronger in 2013.”
Kalemeera emphasised a determination to work harder on intellectual development, as he hoped that by the end of 2013, he should have already laid the ground for a prosperous marriage.
As for Semakula Ronnie, a 23-year-old Ugandan salesman in Dubai, 2012 has been a year of personal development. “It has been a great year for me. I have created quite a lot of interesting friends and have come to learn about new cultures.
“Besides, I have fulfilled some of my pressing needs, let alone excitingly gaining some weight from 55kg in 2011 to 66kg by the end of 2012, something I have been longing for.
“I dream big this year, God willing. I am going to struggle my level best to have a personal car, buy my own house back at home and raise capital to run my own business,” he said.
Musa Kavuma, 24, an African sales associate at Alshaya L.L.C UAE, says: “There are 366 days in a year, 12 months in a year, 30 days in a month, 4 weeks in a month, 7 days in a week, 24 hours in a day, 60 minutes in an hour, and 60 seconds in a minute. But, do you think that every goal that you fail to reach in a second that passes is never recoverable?
“So, as Allah is planning for you, what are your personal plans and targets for this New Year so that you do not repeat your mistakes of the past year? In 2013, I am personally resolved to revise my time, learn from my mistakes and be an achiever not a dreamer.”
Essence of freshness
Dubai-based Khaled Abou Hichme, a Lebanese account manager in a PR firm, believes that the onset of the New Year symbolises freshness and a new beginning. “It is a time when we can make necessary changes in our life, as we all know life is all about making and adjusting with changes. Dec.31 is the day we should do some self-introspection and prepare an annual balance sheet of our life in order to begin a new chapter with a smile.”
For Dubai-based Ribal Temraz, also a Lebanese account executive, resolution is all about guiding principles, “I eagerly wait for the New Year to come, since I start my life with a fresh energy. I always believe in making a resolution every year, since it acts like a guideline for me, and I stick to it most of the time.”
“At the beginning of 2012, I resolved to stop smoking, but I failed to live up to my resolution,” said Stanley Ndawula of Deira in Dubai.
“However, after getting bedridden many times this year, I have resolved to live up to my resolution in 2013. And I will,” Ndawula, a prince in the Kamuswaga Kingdom of Uganda said.
He emailed this passionately written note: “Well, we have been inseparably together for twenty years, giving company to each other and you have been there for me all the time I was worried, mourning, happy etc... However, I must confess that for the last ten years, I’ve been your secret enemy and I have been trying to get rid of you in vain just because of your cunningness.
“I meant anything to you but you meant nothing to me. Even your parents warned me of your lethal character.... You’re responsible for all my shortcomings, my lost friends, hatred from decent people, restless company with my friends, self-hatred, loss of weight, brokenness at times, respiratory disorders, name it. It’s the reason that I’ve made up my mind to kill you -and yes, here I stab you to death. Bye bye TOBACCO and may your soul (if any) rest in eternal PIECES.”
Another Ugandan, Juma Wakabi said he vowed to marry in 2012, “but because of living in a foreign land, it has become tricky. Finding a soulmate is complex because you can hardly gauge whether she holds genuine love for you or thinks you are affluent because you are an expatriate,” said the computer engineer working in Al Qusais, Dubai.
“This year, I will give this cause much attention and I hope, Allah willing, I will marry in 2013.”
Sarah Taryam, Zeinab Nasser, Wilfred Pereira, Agha Riaz, Zafar Iqbal, Matovu Abdallah Twaha, Hamza M. Sengendo, Nabidad Khan and Raghib Hassan contributed to this report.