Rest in Peace, New Year’s Resolutions

It’s that time of the year again.

Yes, it’s time to do what you always do at this time: write an obituary for your New Year’s resolutions.

First, let me offer my condolences. I’m truly sorry for your loss. I can only imagine what sadness you must be feeling, having to go through almost an entire year as the “same old you.”

The “new you” was going to be better. The “new you” was going to wake up at 5 each morning and do 30 minutes of Melvin Durai's Humorjogging, 30 minutes of yoga and 30 minutes of meditation. The “old you” wakes up at 7 a.m. and does 30 minutes of eating, 30 minutes of driving and 30 minutes of complaining.

The “new you” was going to read 100 pages of fiction every day. The “old you” reads fiction only now and then, whenever Donald Trump decides to tweet.

The “new you” was going to focus on important goals. The “old you” focuses on too many goals, switching excitedly from one goal to another, unable to decide which one is the “Goal of the Year” in the English Premier League.

While it may be disappointing that the “new you” hasn’t quite materialized yet, it’s important to realize that the “old you” isn’t all that bad. You are happy with many of the things that the “old you” gives you, whether it’s more sleep, more food, or more opportunities to visit the mall in search of bigger clothes.

But if you really want to leave the “old you” behind, here are three tips to help you:

1. Don’t wait until the beginning of a year to make changes in your life. You can do it at any time, as long as you resolutionsconvince yourself that it’s a good time for a new start. You could do it on your birthday, on the first of the month, or even when you get a haircut. Every morning is an opportunity to pursue a better you; every night is a chance to say, “Darn it, I’ll try again tomorrow!”

2. Don’t aim high – aim low. Aiming high is how most people fail. Some of them have never exercised in their lives, yet they somehow convince themselves that they’re going to run for an hour a day, beginning on January 1. This usually results in a long line at the doctor’s office on January 2.

First patient: “Ouch, my foot!”

Second patient: “Ouch, my back!”

Third patient: “Ouch, my wallet!”

Trust me, you are better off running for 10 minutes a day consistently than aiming for something longer and wishing you had Obamacare. But here’s what usually happens to people: they aren’t satisfied with 10 minutes, so they try 20 minutes, then 30, then 40. Before long, their body resists this big change, perhaps through a muscle strain or illness, and they go from 40 minutes of exercise all the way down to five minutes of excuses.

3. Don’t give up. Remember: it’s better to make a little progress toward your goals than none at all. If your resolution to run for 30 minutes a day crumbles, create another resolution right away to run for 20 minutes a day. If that fails, try 10 minutes a day. You will eventually be successful, even if you’re running for just 30 seconds a day.

If that doesn’t seem like a big achievement, just take a look around you. How many people do you see running for even 10 seconds when there isn’t a cop around?

Now and then, you may spot someone running down your road at an Olympic pace, but that’s only because your neighbor lets his dog run loose.

Studies show that the average young adult in big cities like Delhi or Chicago runs for only 20 seconds a year – just long enough to take a photo for their annual “I ran the marathon” post on Facebook.

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through Amazon.com and McNallyRobinson.com You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.

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