By Cosmas Omegoh
It is a tradition that many have come to imbibe. At the beginning of every New Year, some individuals resolve to abandon some of their old and unpleasant behaviours. They outline some deeds they adjudge to be noble, pleasing, and uplifting which they intend to pursue in the New Year. Some go-ahead to map out strategies to help them realise their set goals.
For some, just days into the New Year, they are back to the same cesspit they had vowed to claw out from. Some altogether jettison the noble path they promised themselves they would explore. Some even turn out worse than they promised themselves they would be, thus making a mess of the promise they made to themselves and those around them.
It is for this reason that some people contend that it is not worth the trouble making New Year resolutions one cannot keep. A cross-section of older Nigerians have been speaking on the merits and demerits of this ritual, agreeing that it takes a lot of focus, patience, discipline, and maturity for serious individuals or even nations to achieve their periodic goals.
What New Year resolution is
According to Bishop Lawrence Osagie, the presiding bishop of Powerline Bible Church, Lagos, “New Year resolution is an age-long tradition being practised by people across the world based on the pain and struggles they experienced in the outgoing year.
“But again and again we find people failing to keep to their resolution because it is one thing for someone to make a resolution and another thing for them to follow through with time.”
Nevertheless, the cleric sees a resolution as “what every man (and woman too) who wants to succeed should undertake; he sits down to plan his life; to plan his days, to plan his weeks to plan his months. That is the only way to succeed because if you do not plan, you plan to fail. So, it is important for everyone to plan: plan for the future, plan for his family, his finances, plan for his career. You must plan. You must have an idea of what you want to do and how you want to get there. For me, this is what resolution should be.”
Individuals make New Year resolution
Chief Goddy Uwazuruike, a lawyer and frontline contender for the office of President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo admitted that New Year resolution is an act he indulges in all year.
“I make New Year resolutions every year,” he revealed, “At the beginning of every year, I always resolve to be a better person than I was in the outgoing year. I resolve to lead a better life – to be a better person to people around me and the world. It is a resolution to be better.
“As far as I’m concerned, I strive to be better in the future.
“In 2021, for instance, I resolved to be a better father and husband, brother, cousin and friend – a better Igbo man and a better Nigerian.
“As an aspirant to the office of President-General our own dear Ohanaeze Ndigbo, I resolved to lead Ndigbo in the right direction in such a way that I will leave things better than I found them. I resolved to help our people to look inwards.”
Do people keep to their resolutions?
But why do people turn back to their resolution as soon as they were made? Here, Chief Uwazuruike gives an insight: “As human beings, one of the many traits we have is frailty.
“You may have a determination or intention to do something. Then suddenly, circumstances beyond you take over. Take, for instance, a smoker resolves that in the New Year, ‘I won’t want to smoke again.’ He keeps struggling until the temptation gets the better part of him – sometimes a temptation initiated by those close to him, and he fails.
“Now, look at this other scenario. There are those who will say, ‘I will not look at another person other than my spouse.’ There are those who say, ‘I will not steal this year,’ but sometimes, human frailty kicks in.
“So, anyone who says at no point, he has not made a resolution and failed might not be honest. If, for instance, you have an aunt somewhere whom you have promised to look after if you don’t have money to continue to do that what would you do? If you don’t have money would you travel? If you resolve, ‘I will give my daughter the best of education.’ Then at some point, you are fired from your job, what would you do?
“Examples of failure to keep to a resolution are too many. Oftentimes those circumstances beyond our control determine what we do next.”
Necessity of New Year resolution
But if individuals often fail to see their New Year resolutions through does that rubbish the idea of people resolving to live better in every New Year?
Not at all says Bishop Osagie. “The truth is that resolutions have very serious undertone to them. It is like a man sitting down on his desk and jotting down some stuff and making out his plans for the future. That is how it is supposed to be.
“You cannot succeed without planning. For you to move from Point A to Point B, you have to know the path you are traveling along. You have to be diligent in travelling along that path. You got to be decisive. It is important that you plan,” he said.
For Chief Uwazuruike, “the fact that one makes resolution indicates a determination to change. There are two actions here: One is the intention, the other is the action itself.
“In law, we call the intention mensa rea, that is the intention or frame of the mind to do something. The action is actus reus. Those two must combine before a crime or action is completed.
“In real life, the intention to observe a change as a New Year resolution could be there. But whether you do those things is another. If you abstain because you say you no longer smoke, and you don’t smoke, then your resolution is working. But if you still buy some cigarettes and put them in your pocket, and then one day you move away and go somewhere to smoke, the resolution was not made in good faith; all resolutions made in good faith lead somebody to a better life.
“Resolution is largely a product of deep thinking. What if one is an armed robber and has the intention to stop this year and still keeps his weapons, the resolution is nil. The person has no intention of keeping the resolution. But if he keeps away those weapons of crime and becomes a farmer, then he has taken the right step; it means that the resolution is working.”
Still underlining the essence of making a New Year resolution, Prof Bobdickson Olabode Akinlein told our reporter that “it is important that we make resolutions; as we are aging, we see lots of challenges.
“Those of us in Christ, the more we grow in Him, we tend to rediscover ourselves. So, making resolutions at some point in our lives or at the beginning of the New Year is very important.
“When we were young, most of us didn’t keep to our resolutions, but as we age, we must keep them because there is power in us that helps to get stabilised.
“As a nation, any country that does not make resolutions whether in the New Year or anytime, is being governed by a set of unserious people.
“Now, look at our country Nigeria, if the ruling class cannot sit down and come up with ideas that will better the lots of the people – which is the primary responsibility of government – then we are going nowhere.
“So making resolutions at the end of the year is important; it is godly.
“We cannot deny that we are aging and there are changes everywhere. We cannot deny that these changes affect us.
“Every New Year we are going into comes with its own challenges – the good ones and the bad ones. So, we must make resolutions to guide us in every New Year.”
What it takes to keep resolution
Bishop Osagie believes that “it is totally the strength of discipline that sees a man make a choice and stand by it.
“Those who are achievers in life create a pathway for themselves and stick to it. Whether it is rough or tough, they keep on keeping on until they see their expectations come to pass.
“But we give up so quickly. When the pressure comes, we abandon the path that we have chosen and begin to look for a new path.
“But we cannot help but confront pressure because whether we like it or not, the wind will continue to blow and the storm will continue to rise. It is those who stay focused and avoid all kinds of distractions that come out successful.”
He warned that “distractions are enemies of our attainments. They are Satan’s ploy to make us fail at the end of the day. And so, if we are not prepared to stand against distraction and stand with our resolutions, we end up failing again and again and again.
“To be able to avoid constant repetition of failing to keep to our resolutions, after we have made them, we have got to discipline ourselves. One has to discipline oneself. One has to bring one flesh under the control of the spirit. One has to agree and accept to live a focused life; stay focused on one’s dream, stay focused on one’s choices and whatever comes to one’s way, wave it off until the end and victory will be yours.”
For Prof Akinlein, “it takes two things to keep to one’s resolutions: patience and maturity.
“When one is mature and knows what they want, they will stick to whatever plans they have made. Then when one is a leader, they need spiritual power to get going.
“In fact, we all need the inner power to stabilise us. So when we make a resolution we stand by it and ask for God’s help to keep it.
“As for a nation like Nigerian, she does not need any other thing other than its leaders to make wonderful resolutions and ask all the wonderful religious people we have around and the power of God to back them up.
“The Nigerian government should be able to make resolutions to better the lots of the people and stand by them.”
New Year resolution doesn’t matter
But Yakubu Mahmod, a public relations practitioner, does not believe making resolutions in the New Year matters. He told our reporter: “I don’t make a New Year resolution. I simply believe whatever comes my way is from the Almighty Allah. Allah plans everything for me. I don’t do anything that will warrant me changing my ways in the New Year.”
He admitted that whatever comes his path is simply divine, adding that “God has plans for me here end even hereafter; I only work towards achieving those plans.
“Some people talk about resolving to change old habits; I don’t make such plans because I’m not into any bad habits, so there is no reason for me to change my habits.
“I can only make a decision to undertake acts of charity – assisting the needy, for instance.
“If I want to engage in such an act of charity – to put smiles on the faces of those in need – let’s say giving out N1 daily to someone in need to buy sachet water, I cannot say that God has not provided me with that, so there is no way I will fail to assist if that is a resolution.
“What I will do is to stay focused on that, share the little I will have with people and seek to be contentded with the little I have.”
Recipe for staying focused in New Year
For everyone who desires to hit the winning way in the New Year, Bishop Osagie gives these nuggets: “The secret of being focused is staying spiritual. You must live your life in partnership with God. The man was not designed to live without God. So, we must live our lives in partnership with God. His is our teacher, He is our guild; He tells us what to do when we are at a crossroads. He is our comforter, our helper.”
Then he warned: “Don’t live your life outside God; pattern your life after God. He created us; He owns us and wants us to live for a purpose. He has a blueprint for you; get it from Him, and then begin to take one day at a time, one step at a time; Gods’ leadership does not lead any man to a dead end. He does not lead anyone to failure. He leads every man to the stage of his success – from the community to the state to the national and then the global level.”