Don’t say no to dessert: How to do New Year resolutions right

How to do new year resolutions right, without breaking into a sweat.

Written by Vatsala Mamgain | Updated: January 14, 2018 12:00:08 am
new year, new year resolutions, new year promises, new year wishes, new year 2018, what is your new year resolution, indian express, indian express news (Illustration: C R Sasikumar)

I’m one step ahead of most of you. It’s two weeks into the year, which means that right around now, you’re abandoning your New Year resolutions for 2018. Meanwhile, I haven’t even gotten around to tackling my 2017 ones yet. One of which was to stop procrastinating, so that has worked out exactly the way your 2018 ones have. Can you see how I’m ahead of the curve here?

The word resolution comes from the Greek root “reso” — which means “determination” — and “lution” which means “hahahahahaha”. This means it’s practically a rule set down by Greek gods that no resolution ever amounts to anything. (This is what a scientific study conducted on New Year resolutions by actual scientists would have told us except that they couldn’t find scientists who could stick to the study long enough. As the Greeks would say, hahahahaha.)

The reason we make resolutions is because we want to be better people. Healthier, thinner, kinder, the sort of people who have gleaming teeth, photogenic children and dogs that don’t smell like decomposing blue cheese. In short, all we want in the new year is to become exactly the sort of annoyingly perfect person we longed to handcuff and feed umbrellas to in the previous year (pointy side first).

I have now decided that wanting to be someone I actively plot to kill with my own bare hands is neither healthy nor sustainable. I have also decided that we’re doing this resolution thing all wrong. So here, in the spirit of selfless service to humanity, are my new rules for New Year resolutions. You’re welcome.

* You may have thought it is because you have the willpower of a field of alfalfa that all your resolutions have failed. Cheer up! It’s not you. It’s the new year. Who has ever woken up on New Year’s Day and thought, “Let me leap out of bed, don athletic wear in colours not found in nature, eat my own body weight in celery and go for a 20 km run?” Instead, the top New Year Day thoughts for most people are, “Why am I even alive?” “How can I drink so much?” “Those boti kebabs tasted much better on the way down than they do, regurgitated in these disgusting burps.” Sometimes top New Year Day thoughts are even more basic such as, “Who am I?” and “Where are my pyjamas?” Clearly this is not the time to start becoming a healthier, kinder, thinner you. This is a time instead to urgently find the old you, get reacquainted and keep hydrated till the urge to disembowel yourself passes. So, my first rule for new year resolutions is: No, not on the first day of the new year, please.

* Clearly, most resolutions fail because they are set at the level where one has to do actual work to achieve them. After hydrating myself, I have come to the conclusion that this is an intolerable burden. Instead, we should set targets that are more realistic. A typical resolution is, “I will lose 10 kg a month and by June, I will be skinny enough to not need to open lift door grills to step inside.” Can you see how every bit of this goal is doomed to spectacular failure? Instead, set yourself a goal that you can break up into smaller, more achievable parts, that you may have achieved somewhat in the past. So try, for instance, this resolution — “At the rate of 2 kg a month, I will slowly gain weight, till by the year-end, my arms are roughly the width of the Panipat-Chandigarh highway.” Do you see immediately how gaining weight at a slow and steady pace is doable — something you have done effortlessly many times before? This is a resolution you’ll be sure to stick to.

* Another way of helping make resolutions less scary is to aim for something so lofty and so beneficial for the human race, that it immediately frees you up from actually doing any physical, mental or emotional work to achieve it. A resolution from this stable could be: “Ensure that by the end of the year, Arnab Goswami is rendered incapable of speaking in any voice other than that of a lisping six-year-old girl.” While this would lead to better aural and mental health for a large section of humanity, you don’t have to actually leap up to vivisect the bits of him that would help you achieve this goal. But this lofty goal makes it easy to lie in bed, scratching yourself than a resolution that says that you will do volunteer work for the community. It’s easy when you know how.

* The final rule for new year resolutions is careful crafting. Mark Twain’s resolution, year after year, was always to live within his income even if he had to borrow money to do so. Here are some examples of carefully crafted resolutions which are key to managing expectations and disappointment. Resolve to eat more Chinese rather than learn Chinese; resolve to learn to pronounce the “acai” in the acai berries right rather than eat them; and resolve to watch a movie of a good book rather than read it. These are resolutions you can definitely hope to keep. I’m not too sure about the acai berries part (asai? akai? aykay?) but the rest are definitely within grasp.

But eventually, through the year, while keeping or ditching a resolution, always remember the golden truth that you only live once. Think of how many people said no to dessert on the Titanic. And go for it. The Panipat-Chandigarh highway is totally within reach.

Vatsala Mamgain is a glutton, cook, runner, tree lover, shopper, reader, and talker.

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