2019: new year, new plan – no resolutions

2019: new year, new plan – no resolutions

I HAVE made New Year’s Resolutions before, like an ordinary person, and broken them before, like an ordinary person.

I didn’t stop making Resolutions out of some weakness or inner strength. I just felt that too many years of these attempts needed a new approach, and so far it’s working better than the past.

My fail points, as an ordinary person, were numerous: the Resolutions themselves were difficult because they were simplistic; the process was doomed because it was scheduled yet impulsive; keeping these Resolutions was near-impossible because they were just statements with the most unrealistic timelines.

New Year’s Resolutions always reminded me of the Uganda Cranes player back in the 1990s who told my brother how their coach at the time would show up during the half-time break and tell them, while clapping one hand into the other: “Yongera mu amaanyi!” (‘Put in more energy!’)

This went on game after game and they kept losing game after game till one day they mutinied and asked him: “Naye tuwongere mu amaanyi tutya?!” (‘Exactly WTF are we supposed to do and how?!’)

See, bila mupango the ordinary person always stands little chance of getting anything done. Hence the definition of ‘implementation’ as “the process of putting a decision or plan into effect; execution.”

The ‘plan’ with New Year’s Resolutions always seemed to be: “Say words. Do things.”

Most chaps who said, “I will Drink less alcohol in the New Year” or words to that effect found themselves back down the same road.

Week One was always easy because when you are coming out of the holiday season you automatically imbibe less alcohol. There are fewer parties, there is less money, work has resumed and inconveniences alcoholic pursuits, and so on and so forth.

But if you haven’t computed how much alcohol you drank last year, you can’t tell whether the amount you are drinking in the New Year is “less”.

“I will Stop drinking alcohol” has its own issues.

I knew a guy called Daudi who pushed the envelope for about two months then found himself being sent in one general direction. Because of his new non-alcoholic schedule he started spending more time at home.

(I personally know this to be dangerous to one’s mental health if one is unprepared for it, but that’s another story that involves a meeting called by my domestic staff demanding my absence.)

See, Daudi, for instance, would find himself doing unnecessary things and getting stuck at one conclusion. One day he tackled a bouquet of flowers that had been placed in a large see-through vase of water filled only halfway.

He couldn’t walk me through the thinking process that suggested this was a problem. But eventually found he had to wipe a table and mop the floor, only to face an irate wife who couldn’t believe the flower arrangement she was taking to some bridal shower had been destroyed.

As she told him off he had one thought running through his mind: “Or I go to the bar?”

Some days later, something made him try out D-I-Y and he chose to paint part of a verandah wall. As he was buying up materials he was mentally patting himself on the back with thoughts like: “Kale, that could have been three beers.” and “Imagine! There I would have bought two Coconuts (Waragi ones)!”

Hours into the project, however, he began to appreciate the different professions that exist out there. His paint wouldn’t stick to the wall and the colour looked different from the one in the Pinterest photo. He broke down and called a painter who slapped him in the brain by asking, “Did you sand the walls?”

What was that, even?

As expected, he hung up with the thought: “Or I go to the bar?”

But he had to clean up before attempting to leave, and as he did so he found mournful thoughts in his head such as: “Kale, that could have been three beers!” and “Imagine! There I could have bought two Coconuts!”

Yeah, like any ordinary person, he was in the bar before long, appreciating the bartender’s professionalism.

If only he’d planned it, I explained, he would have stood a chance. He should have replaced his alcohol with another pursuit or set of pursuits – including flower arrangements and wall-painting, but gone at them systematically.

“See, you didn’t just go to a bar and start drinking large amounts of alcohol,” I explained to him, “It took a while for you to learn how to drink, what not to drink, how to deal with mixing alcohol and what not to mix, and dealing with the hangovers, right?”

Of course.

So, logic would have it, his plan required him to first learn the alcohol replacement activities before engaging in them – all of which would have taken enough time for him to be weaned off the alcohol consumption and being in a bar situation.

Bila mupango, nothing will happen. You need a plan in order to implement.

So all those statements that people keep making fwaaa will go nowhere and will do so very slowly because a year is LOOOONG!

And the idea behind a plan is to borrow a leaf from companies or corporate entities. None of them goes into business with the objective of “Making a profit”. <— say something like that during a job interview and you’ve failed.

Those organisations – the successful ones – go into their business year with a clear profit objective and specific targets, with plans of how to achieve them, which they employ people to carry out with frequent checks along the way to ensure they are on track.

The specificity of the targets companies set for themselves will not accept, for instance, an objective (Resolution) like: “I will Go to the Gym.” because there is no clear end result of that.

If your resolution is to go to the gym you could drive there every single day and without setting one foot out of your car, drive on to a bar nearby to find a frustrated paint-splattered Daudi.

The person who sets out to “Go to the Gym AND WORKOUT at least Two Times A Week” is more likely to attract the attention of serious people.

Companies will set targets which will be cascaded to their staff in a way that everybody gets their own individual targets that they must perform certain tasks (aka ‘work’) to achieve.

You could do the same – if your objective (again – Resolution) is to read one book from start to end every month throughout the year, in order to develop your mind and establish a book reading habit, then your spouse should be tasked with ensuring you have a fresh book every month, and the children must leave you alone for one hour every evening to do your reading as they do their homework.

These companies then ensure that they have serious managers who, in most cases, are incentivised differently from staff. The roles of the managers are many but include keeping an eye on targets, making sure the staff stay on track in the right direction so that company objectives are met, and motivating the staff.

As an individual you might not hire a manager but you could get what a close friend of mine calls an ‘Accountability Partner’ – a person who keeps you accountable, on track and somehow motivated. By the way money is not, apparently, motivation; but if you are motivated by money then give your Accountability Partner money to give you if you stay on track.

That”s like placing a bet on yourself to hit your target. I know a guy called Okello (not really but it doesn’t matter) who quit smoking because he wagered Ushs500,000 at The Junction Bar in Ntinda one night that he would do so. The guys at The Junction Bar are so widespread and have a vibrant WhatsApp group so there are few places Okello can go to and sneak a cigarette.

To make matters worse, they told his wife about the wager and added her to the supervision list. I say ‘matters worse’ because should he risk Ushs500,000 leaving their household she will kill him that day; and she has been fighting hard to make him quit smoking so…

…Okello has about 100 Accountability Partners for his no smoking objective.

The list of possibilities in implementing your New Year’s Resolutions is long and, for me, exciting because of the planning element. This year I’ve been asked to share my personal plan but my Accountability Partners (the family – who also had to do the same) are the only ones getting the actual plan in full.

The rest of you can take this as a glimpse into what someone’s 2019 could look like if they chose to plan their ‘Resolutions’. The last slide indicates some of the routines a person following this plan would have to follow.

A plan without routines makes you an aimless adult – and that’s an insult.

 

i’ll be spring cleaning before making any new year resolutions


I DON’T disdain New Year Resolutions, but over the years I have relegated them to lower than ’Spring Cleaning’ or whatever term we will use in our Ugandan climate for this.
Subconsciously, I believed ‘Spring Cleaning’ to be the heavy cleaning that people did in their homes during that season of the year, having come out of Winter and the entropic accumulations at the end of the year.
The way it worked, as the season turned from the bleak, grey, cold Winter to the bright, warm, flowery time of Spring, people opened up their windows and doors and took the opportunity to clean out their homes and let fresh air in once again.
The idea that it was linked to European seasons that we don’t have down here rankled me a little bit until I checked my trusted internet for more on the origins of this Spring Cleaning that I was going to rename and then promote over New Year Resolutions, and found that it didn’t actually originate in Europe. The practice originated possibly somewhere in Bible times when the Jews took it up as part of the observance of the Passover, or even earlier in Persia of the 2nd Century CE.
We don’t have our seasons ordered in the European manner, in spite of what the nursery rhymes and our primary school teachers kept reciting; nevertheless, the term ‘Spring Cleaning’ appropriately accommodates what we should generally be doing at around this time.
Well, New Year Resolutions are supposed to work more or less the same way, but for the mind and soul. So during an eclectic late night discussion over the matter during the holidays, a couple of us arrived at the idea that we could premise any Resolutions we needed to make on physical cleaning and make them more realistic.
Rather than just cleaning, we agreed, we could take the opportunity to do renovations and rehabilitations around our homes during this holiday season so we start the year off in cleaner, fitter, more organised environments. This was the time to tighten all the loose screws, replace faulty bulbs, oil doors, check and clean out plumbing, fumigate, paint, fix furniture and fittings…
All the things that most New Year Resolutions claim to do for the body and soul, but more visible.
The day after that discussion, I started summoning my usual supplier of these services and set them to work as I pulled on my own gloves and went round on an enhanced Do-It-Yourself session.
One of my relations realised that the party they traditionally host during the holiday gave them the perfect opportunity to put this cleaning exercise onto their calendar, and will this year be adding cleaning and repairs onto their party budget.
Re-organising, cleaning up and doing general repairs in our homes, it turns out, is even more appropriate during the Christmas and New Year’s break because many of us can take time off to stay at home and supervise the work being done so it is free of the comedic drama that many tradesmen bring along as part of their service (which is the subject of many other stories I am posting online).
This week, though, I am happy to be proclaiming NO verbal New Year Resolutions but enjoying a much more meaningful and long-lasting physical clean up exercise around me that will make it easier to make those life changes that I can refer to as Resolutions.
I suspect that the discovery of gym bags and exercise apparel while cleaning out certain corners of the house, for instance, might trigger off some guilt that will cause me to exercise a little bit more. And if a few of those diet books that some (rude) people insist on giving me as gifts fall off bookshelves as we arrange libraries in alphabetical order by author, then maybe they will find themselves in the kitchen and open before meals are cooked.
My cleaning exercises, therefore, will take precedence over making New Year Resolutions now and in the future, so that the resolutions themselves are more logical, orderly and implementable.

take initiative with everyone else’s New Year’s Resolutions


It’s that time of the year again, when ‘clever’ people clean out their homes, habits and hearts to make a clean, fresh start at life.
The calendar is a highly successful way of guiding behaviour this way, so I applaud the people who created this method of making us periodically refresh everything around us.
There is not much new about New Year’s Resolutions except that they need to be followed by a little initiative. The people who make them are not the issue here, because they will be dropping them soon enough, as usual.
It’s the rest of us who can benefit from this Resolution-mania who should sit up and therefore take quick, profitable advantage.
The most popular resolutions, for instance, are to do with quitting drinking and smoking; both vices that we globally acknowledge form unhealthy addictions but are so essential as to be legalised.
The people in alcohol-based businesses such as bars and nightclubs should therefore be busy creating non-alcoholic cocktails and marketing them vigorously to these quit-drinking resolvers – at least for this one month when the resolution will likely hold.
I would be impressed if the breweries quickly replaced Christmas billboards with advertising for their non-alcoholic beverages, but I have no suggestions for the cigarette companies.
The next most common resolution should be the one around doing more exercise and losing weight – well justified by the amount of holiday gluttony we are emerging from.

I haven’t yet seen any gyms or exercise businesses stepping up their advertising to drive all these willing and highly potential customers through their doors, but perhaps they will begin tomorrow. UPDATE!

Sheraton Fitness Hour - Flier
Call that number to REALLY get fit

I got this flier in my email exactly 36 hours after sending this article in for publication, and I can swear that the guy behind this had no idea that this is what I was writing about this week; kudos to Bob Ssebugwawo!

They might be planning to coincide their marketing drive with that of the companies that sell light t-shirts and other gym-appropriate clothing, which should be on demand in general because most clothing has certainly shrunk in size over the holidays.
Next resolution: get a better job. The people on the lower rungs of the employment ladder normally make this one easily and quickly; your domestic staff, especially, take time off to think about their lives and implement their career-changing decision in an irritatingly abrupt manner. We have all suffered that return to the home, tired after the holiday travels, to find that these essential staffers haven’t done the same.
The employment agencies that provide these domestic staff should be charging a premium for January hires. A distressed couple faced with an absconding domestic staff the day before they are supposed to return to work themselves will pay handsomely for a quick replacement.
Then cleaning companies, meanwhile, could mop up millions addressing people’s homes after all their Christmas and New Year partying, and even just the prolonged presence of children from morning till night as they holiday.
Set up a post-holiday package for us and see if we don’t take the bait!
Speaking of bait, there is that one resolution that the vast majority make especially on the night of the crossover, after reflecting on their year past and being awed by the power behind it.
Religious bodies should be in overdrive right now – so much that THEY should be the ones replacing the Christmas billboards as the Breweries delay to make the switch to non-alcoholic beverages.
What are churches doing NOT setting up fireworks displays of their own?
Most people would be enthralled by those particular fireworks and looking out for the possibility of a message from on high amidst the display.
If there is anybody letting an opportunity go by, it’s religious people not designing a fireworks display that spells out something like, “Get Saved Now!”
If people respond to billboards and newspaper adverts and SMS messages telling them to buy stuff mbu “it’s the best”, how will they ignore a message written in the sky in fire on New Year’s night when they are all high charged?
And fireworks displays don’t really cost that much, so any ordinary church could put one on as easily as they piece together the money for the Pastor’s car and other stuff like that.
Opportunity, opportunity, opportunity.
May we take better advantage of it in 2015.