The New Year’s res­o­lu­tions so­lu­tion

Mail & Guardian - - Comment & Analysis - Hans Macken­zie Main

Wouldn’t it be a won­der­ful sur­prise if the in­sti­tu­tions that serve us re­solved to serve us bet­ter this year? Or, if not to serve us bet­ter, at least to try to make things eas­ier for us to un­der­stand.

For in­stance, if the South African Rev­enue Ser­vice re­solved to start the tax year on the same day as the cal­en­dar year, then we could all be on the same page. Or if all ser­vice providers agreed on how to write the date. I’m for­ever won­der­ing whether it’s month/day/year or day/month/year. Sec­onds go by in the bank, the traf­fic depart­ment, the post of­fice (I’m there now and then) dur­ing which it’s ei­ther 11 Jan­uary or 1 Novem­ber. You would think Y2K would have been a wake-up call. Date writ­ing reg­u­la­tion should have been passed long ago. Sadly, it hasn’t. And here we are.

But the in­sti­tu­tions won’t re­solve to do any­thing. We all know that. To be res­o­lute is to be un­wa­ver­ing and they wa­ver (in the form of waivers), tak­ing away our right to de­mand logic. We waivered that right when we were reg­is­tered at birth, quite pos­si­bly, on a day of the month that wasn’t the day of the month ev­ery­one thought it was. A shock­ing thought.

Maybe that’s too much to ask any­way. To ex­pect oth­ers to make res­o­lu­tions for our ben­e­fit.

The New Year’s res­o­lu­tion has al­ways had an air of the per­sonal about it. A quiet mo­ment you take with your­self to de­cide in what pro­found way you are go­ing to bet­ter your­self over the next 12 months. Quite frankly, in its purest form, draw­ing up a list of res­o­lu­tions should work the other way round: What can I do to change my­self for the ben­e­fit of oth­ers?

That brings it closer to home but, iron­i­cally, and very much awk­wardly, per­sonal New Year’s res­o­lu­tions are some­how ev­ery­one’s busi­ness.

“Any New Year’s res­o­lu­tions?” a col­league might ask. And then you have to spill the beans (quit smok­ing, go to the gym, drink more wa­ter) and you’re sad­dled with a wit­ness to your in­evitable fail­ure to make it past Fe­bru­ary.

But you’re also wit­ness to his or her down­fall and that, I put for­ward, is why we all fail to stick to the things we re­solve to do at this mer­ci­less time of the year. It’s a bul­let­proof sys­tem.

The same in­stinct that drives large groups of peo­ple to eat gar­lic to­gether so one can’t smell the other is driv­ing the masses to fail as a whole. Herd men­tal­ity work­ing at a very high level.

So how do you stand out from the crowd? How do you do your own thing?

May I pro­pose a vari­a­tion on prob­a­bly the one item printed on the waiver form of the Make a Wish Foun­da­tion (no wish­ing for end­less wishes)?

It’s a res­o­lu­tion I have man­aged to stick to for al­most a decade now and sim­ply states that I re­solve not to make any res­o­lu­tions this year, or in any other year.

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