Welcome 2021, Do We Have To Make A New Year’s Resolution?

by Elpidio R. Estioko

The year 2021 is the Year of the Ox, a great year to sharpen our skills and rekindle our talents. It is a challenging year because if luck is not in our side, we can substitute it with hard work and perseverance.

We have been in the United States for 23 years and yearly, my family and I always welcome the New Year as Pinoys in America. Even as we attend dinner with friends and relatives, we make it a point that our family stay together during New Year’s Eve and eat with gusto the pansit and other native dishes my wife Delia prepares annually.

Historians say, according to old New Year’s tradition in the Philippines, the Chinese settlers introduced Chinese noodles on New Year’s Day representing good health and long life. I found out that 80% of modern Filipinos still practice the tradition.

Looking forward, we believe in transformation because our big break is within reach and all it takes is hard work, determination, and a nurturing ambition. There is always hope for improvement in every new year we face.

Ourdesire to move forwardwill be stronger than ever this coming year and effectively transforming whatever deficit we had in the previous year. Our determination and positive attitude will help us succeed. We will use our talents wisely to overcome obstacleswe may encounter as we weather the challenges in the coming year.

As we approach the new year, millions of people make their New Year’s resolutions. This is because a new year can be a great time to set intentions and look for ways to make positive changes. Just remember to set realistic goals and things that are simple and reachable. Otherwise, we are doomed to fail in pursuing our New Year’s resolutions since general and unreasonable intentions are difficult to comply with.

We make our new year’s resolution promising to do an act of self-improvement, big or small! The tradition dates to religious origins, but the concept, regardless of origin, is geared towards reflecting upon self-improvement every year.

We are hoping that we have more opportunities to come as the new year is about to roll and usher another year for us. I am optimistic the year 2021 will give us many positive challenges that propels us to make resolutions.

But, most New Year’s resolutions fail! Despite this, we do it anyway.

A study made in 2007, conducted by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol involving 3,000 people, showed that 88% of those who set New Year’s resolutions fail. Well, if that is the case, why is there still a need for a New Year’s resolution? With almost everybody breaking their promises immediately after making them, and after jumping when the clock strikes 12 midnight of December 31, 2020 during the countdown: do we still have to make resolutions?

Based on my observations and my conviction, most people say yes because making a New Year’s resolution is crucial to our life. If we make one, we set a goal that we aspire to attain. On the other hand, if we don’t – there is no direction – at all, in our life!

While there are popular goals or resolutions people go for, to me, the most important, should be to keep the family together. If your family is one, united, and well-connected – maintain it by all means! If there is a lot of disconnections, dysfunctions, and misunderstandings – pick up the pieces and put them together.

So, with that, let us make and nourish this year’s resolution to greater heights. Make the family the center of our heart, the center of our life, the center of our existence. In fact, make it the center of everything we do in life without any mental reservation!

The same study showed that the most common reason for participants failing their New Year’s resolution was setting themselves unrealistic goals (35%), while 33% did not keep track of their progress and a further 23% forgot about it. About one in 10 respondents, the study further showed, claimed they made too many resolutions.

As to success rate, the study mentioned better chances of achieving one’s resolutions when we engage in goal setting (a system where small measurable goals are being set, such as, a pound a week, instead of saying “lose weight”); when we make our goals public and get support from our friends; and when we talk with a counselor about setting goals and New Year’s resolutions.

So, if only we can set up realistic goals, items that are attainable and easy to comply with… we may have a better success rate in accomplishing our resolutions!

But the reality is, with or without a New Year’s resolution, we can do many good things in our life. If we can set our New Year’s goals and can commit to these resolutions, our life will even be more meaningful… it will have a direction, there is a goal we can aim for and attain, as we live the New Year and have a charted future, so to speak!

I would like to focus on two things that occupy the 4th and 5th slots of the top ten New Year’s resolutions people promise to do every year based on a survey: quit smoking and stop drinking.

I will focus on these two because I used to smoke in large amounts and drink heavily starting when I was a junior in high school, but I managed to quit both successfully and stayed cancer-free.

This is my 37th year of not smoking and my 35-year of not drinking. To my recollection, I only took two bottles of beer within that period with friend Mario Mateo in Los Angeles who didn’t believe me I stopped drinking because I was the one who taught my D’ Heartaches friends to drink and smoke when we were in high school.

Honestly, I attempted to stop for the first time by reducing the number of cigarettes I smoke per day and limiting the bottles of beer. But this did not help because the urge is still there, and the addiction is still in my body system. So, I resumed heavy drinking and smoking until I got sick.

When I got sick, that was the time I attempted to quit for the second time both smoking and drinking, but this time I stopped totally cold turkey! It was only plain will and determination to quit without any substitute or reduced intake. The most difficult thing to do is to refuse something you used to take, but if there is will power, I am telling you, we can! I did it with many self-struggles convincing myself I can do it. I did it and the crucial periods were from day 1 to 3 months. After that, you will never crave for it again and even friends invite you to do it, you now have the nerve to say: NO!

So, folks, it can be done. I am a living example! How?

First, condition yourself not to smoke and drink again. Stopping cold turkey has many consequences because your craving is still there, and temptations abound from friends who drink and smoke with you before. Substitutes such as gums and candies may help, but the real ingredients are eating a balanced diet and keeping a regular exercise pattern.

Another thing, which is easier said than done is: Strong will to say NO! Let us face it, it is all in the mind. You need a strong will and determination to say no to any offer made by your friends. Turn them down! You need self-discipline here. It must come from you really to refuse an offer in a nice way. Let them know you are quitting, but you can still be with their company.

Quitting is a manly gesture! Shying away from a vice you used to do takes a lot of nerve and guts. This is what makes you as a man! Every time you refuse things you used to do makes you stronger and respectable. It will not make you less of a man when you quit smoking or drinking. On the contrary, you are the man!

When you stop smoking and drinking, it does not mean that you will also ignore your friends who smoke and drink. They will respect your decision as you continue meeting them as if nothing happened and being with them even if you are not drinking. Keep them company!

Volunteer as the designated driver. They will even be grateful to you when you volunteer. It will strengthen even more your friendship and your relationships with them. Also have cigarettes in your pocket ready for friends who need one.

These are simple rules but once adhered to, they will work wonders for you and help you carry out your New Year’s Resolution! Let us remember: if we can set up realistic goals, things that are attainable and easier to comply. We may have a better success rate in accomplishing our resolutions.

So, we can start saying goodbye to 2020 and ending the year with a bang… Then let us welcome 2021 and embrace the New Year with hope and added enthusiasm for a better year!

ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and an award-winning journalist in the US. For feedbacks, comments… please email the author @ estiokoelpidio@gmail.com.


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