I AM not always keen on New Year’s Resolutions because I find they don’t always work for people like me.
People like me who felt deprived of something or the other in their childhood, broke free at a certain point and there was nothing, not even good, common sense, that was going to stop us from catching up.
We did everything we couldn’t do as children and yet thought was “fun” or “cool”, and we went overboard.
Once we found ourselves swimming in the lake of life we floundered, and got deeper and deeper into rivers and sometimes the ocean of all the vices we had suddenly discovered.
People like me are also easily distracted, even before you throw in work, family, the wider family, Twitter, Instagram Facebook, the side-job, social work, pals, TV entertainment and downloads…and so on and so forth.
So for us to commit to big time life-changes kick-starting from one date and then sticking to them for a whole year is really hard.
It doesn’t even work if people like me tend to forget the pledges we make to ourselves, then set calendar reminders and get spouses to nag us constantly as reminder tactics. Life only conspires to remind us of these resolutions some time in December when it dawns on us that we have to make resolutions again for the coming year.
So this year I am going at it differently; I am choosing 15 different things to do throughout 2015 that will be easy to implement, easy to measure, and also make changes to my life and the lives of many other people besides.
The tactic is quite simple: choose small things that are easy to do, clearly measurable, and that make a big difference not just to self, but to many other people as well.
That last bit of the big difference to other people means that it is harder to make a personal, single-minded decision to just drop whatever life-changing action you chose. You can decide to resume drinking, for instance, because dammit the hangover is yours anyway, right?
But if you commit to giving an orphanage a certain number of packets of milk every month you can’t just stop doing so because you will be depriving all those little children of a pleasure and benefit that they wouldn’t have had in the first place if you hadn’t started doing it.
And the resolution points are quite simple to arrive at – for instance:
1. Consult one global expert on a key issue every day
– not always by talking to them, but by reading their blogs and articles,
watching their TED Talks, reading their books. This is every easy to do and only takes up about five to ten minutes of one’s time every day. Other People Element?
Commit to sharing one lesson per day to people who will take you to task for it.
2. Read at least one article every day on exercise and fitness –
See how idea number one works so easily? I thought this one up by way of consulting a global expert in a TED Talk
. Meanwhile, it’s easier to read about exercise and fitness than to start out actually going to the gym or hitting the road with running shoes, and reading will make me more likely to exercise…eventually.
Other People Element? Share the article with people you know also need the drive or who might be useful as in 11. below
3. Watch a comedy or read something humorous for thirty minutes every day – which will, without a doubt, make one more pleasant company to be around.
Other People Element? The people that you interact with will definitely be the winners here.
4. Thank an individual every day for something they have done – which may sound mushy, but if you do this you will probably close the year with 365 more people with a positive disposition towards you than before. Make sure the persons you than are not necessarily friends or relatives and this works even more wonders (and, of course, it can’t be the same person every day). If I do this I will maintain maintain a list of all the people I thank and the things I am thankful to them for.
Other People Element? That individual (or those individuals) that you thank will be the winners, for sure!
5. Water my plants at least once every single day without fail, provided I am at home
– which has the additional pull of making you go home every day…not that I don’t but you know what I mean.
Other People Element? Your housemates (read family if you live with your family).
6. Plant 50 trees a month in both Wakiso and Hoima – or wherever you come from and wherever you live, so that you hit this mark one way or another. The number could be one, five, ten, fifty or a thousand – just choose one that you will make happen.
Other People Element? Of course, the people that you hire or employ to manage those trees.
7. Buy at least ten (10) goats between now and December 2015 – another simple resolution and one that only requires you to put aside the equivalent of one goat’s purchase cost every month starting January. And to put aside land for the goats to graze. And the salary of a goatherd. And…well, this could easily become more and more complicated, but after achieving the goal, if you mix up the genders appropriately, then you can sit back and watch the herd growing month on month.
Other People Element? The goat-herd…
8. Donate 20 packets of milk (or something) to an orphanage or children’s home every month – very easy to do, especially if the orphanage or children’s home is along your daily route home or to work. A packet of milk is, about Ushs3,000 at most so it’s like stopping for a little fuel every single day. Alternatively, you could pay a milk supply place near the orphanage/home and make arrangements for people from that place to collect the milk when they want it. You could replace milk with cereal or a tray of eggs or anything that you’d want your own children to have on a regular without thinking about it, and change the lives of some vulnerable, disadvantaged little ones who have never thought their prayers would be answered in this way.
Other People Element? Too obvious to go into now.
9. Bless a child every day – not like in 8. above; I mean just say a prayer over a child every single day. It could be your child, or my child, or a child you’ve seen on the news. By saying a prayer or whispering to that little one the words, “God bless you”, you are being an angel for real. And all you have to do is to say those three words. The positive wishes and energy alone should suffice to make a difference somewhere in the atmosphere. Don’t go to their beds if they’re not your real children, just say the prayer and go to sleep.
Other People Element? All those little children you bless.
10. Each day, take or serve one less of any food item – this is easier than dieting but must make a difference provided you don’t compensate by taking more of another food item. If you’re a coffee guy, throw in one less spoon of sugar in at least one mug of coffee. If it’s biscuits and you normally scoop up a handful, do the scoop then put back one biscuit. Order for one sausage instead of two. Refuse to eat that other sumbusa during the meeting. Just one food item per day. Or per meal. You will be surprised how much of a habit this becomes across the board, and how much weight control you actually achieve. Just don’t compensate…
Other People Element? This one is tough, but if you’re married then it’s obvious that your significant other should be the main beneficiary.
11. Identify my desired circle of influence and take position
– adopted from this simple and very sensible article
shared with me by one of my brothers just this week. If I want to be a good piano player, I’ve got to start hanging out with good piano players; if I want to be a good gardener, I’ve got to start hanging out with good gardeners; likewise for anything else I hope to achieve. Some of what they have got must rub off on me.
The bit of that article (see link above) that really grips you is the one that goes:
If you hang around five confident people, you will be the sixth.
If you hang around five intelligent people, you will be the sixth.
If you hang around five millionaires, you will be the sixth.
If you hang around five idiots, you will be the sixth.
If you hang around five broke people, you will be the sixth.
Other People Element? All the people that associate with you in whatever way are the beneficiaries here, also because you become the type of person that THEY also eventually latch on to.
12. Exercise the mind – and this can be done in a variety of ways; do a crossword puzzle, or Sudoku, or a quick quiz, or try to recall the minute details of a long ago event such as that Bukuku the gatekeeper story…something that makes the mind strain a little bit. You will be grateful when you’re 75 and still able to recall details that the 15 year olds running this country then will find amazing – like the events of 1986.
Other People Element? Believe me, the more you sharpen your mind the better company you become for more and more people, which you don’t notice until it just hits you. And when you one day show too much of an interest in stuff like Zaro (is that how she spells it?) they will remind you.
13. Focus on creating one long-term, special gift for someone later this year
– and this doesn’t need to go to the most special person in your life, but to someone who will realise what effort
you put into that gift and will be all the more touched by it. Plant a small tree, for instance, or a pot of tomatoes or spices or herbs; or stock up a First Aid box over the next six months with a wide range of medicines, salves, plasters and bandages. – even spending Ushs3,000 a month could stock up a very well populated first aid box that could save lives.
Other People Element? You’re joking, right?
14. ‘Invest’ something small into the village every month – this matters very greatly especially if you live in the city, and is linked closely to 6, 7 and probably 8 above. The amounts that city dwellers in Uganda spend on ordinary stuff every day could create miracles in most upcountry settings. That lunch time buffet of Ushs15,000 could drop Orange or Mango seedlings into ten homesteads in your village and make you appear to be an aspiring Member of Parliament (MP), yet you’d be changing the nutritional situations of some people as well as providing them a kind of income arrangement. Of course, you’ve got to appropriate your intervention to your particular village and what goes on there, so use your brain (see number 12 above). In order not to attract the wrath of your MP, this being a campaign year, you could use them and make this part of your campaign contribution to them, and maybe even rally other city-dwelling villagemates to do the same so that many of you make a massive difference overall, together.
Other People Element? All the people who take that investment seriously will certainly stand to benefit, as will the MP who headlines your initiative.
15. Building on 14. above, what about mobilising your family – right away so that each of you in the family, for instance, puts aside just Ushs10,000 per month beginning January, aiming at a big Christmas gift for your local health centre or school or something. Think about all the people you spent Christmas time with in the village and consider how much you’d collect if each of you put aside just Ushs10,000 a month from now to December, and then choose something worth that amount of money as your Family Christmas Gift.
If you can mobilise the entire family then they won’t feel shy fuelling up to go to the village with boxes of cornflakes and packs of sausages in coolers, with your own first aid boxes (like in 13. above) that are possibly more stocked than the local dispensary…
Other People Element? Again, you’re joking asking this, right?
Note: I am NOT doing all the above…or not saying that I am going to do it all. These are guides to stuff YOU could do quite simply and still make a difference to your life as well as the lives of other people.
It’s almost a resolution itself to drop the habit of making those boring, normal, selfish, non-functional New Year’s Resolutions that nobody ever really keeps, or that few people care about anyway, for ones that are simple, measurable, and have an impact on other people rather than ourselves.