Stand-up comedian Neville Shah on the futility of New Year resolutions

  • Neville Shah, Mumbai
  • Updated: Dec 31, 2015 17:35 IST
Resolutions are like bubble-wrap. We start popping them with resolute fervour and then just give up

Resolutions are like bubble-wrap. We start popping them with resolute fervour and then just give up. The life cycle of a resolution is this:

- December 21: I have to lose weight. I must exercise. I’ll start next year.

-January 1: Am too hung over, I’ll start tomorrow.

- January 2: I can sleep in for one more day.

- January 3: Wake up. Change. (Walks two rounds). I feel great. (Comes home).

- January 4: Yesterday was tough. I should go easy today. (Takes one round. Returns home.)

- January 5: Two days straight, I can skip today.

- January 6 to 30: I’ll go tomorrow.

- February: Forget it.

- June 1: Damn, I must at least walk (Since I’m exhausted from all the running). Goes for a walk. (Walks home two rounds later.)

- June 2 to December 20: Forget it.

- December 21: I have to lose weight. I must exercise. I’ll start next year.

(Illustration: Chetan Patil )

This is true for any resolution. Because resolutions are born out of the sheer sense of futility associated with the month of December.

Whether it’s our career, personal or relationship goals, we’re never satisfied. I didn’t get the promotion. I didn’t travel as much. I put on weight. Again. And my personal favourite — I need work-life balance.

The last one particularly riles me up, because all year long, being busy and not having time is a matter of pride. So much so, that when we go to a party, we can’t stop talking about how busy we are and how badly we need a vacation.

And then, in a raging fit of overcompensation, thanks to the largely mediocre year, we decide that next year, we will overachieve, adding more pressure to our already pressured lives. If we wanted a vacation so bad, why didn’t we just take it?

The thing is, most of us have an average year, because that’s what most of us are — average. That’s why the word ‘average’. If everyone were special, then special, too, would be average. (Poignant philosophical pause, followed by appreciation for great alliteration.)

For the ones who just gasped, and in defence said, “But my momma always told me, I was special,” yes, you are, snowflake. But my point is, being unique isn’t really extraordinary for a snowflake. Get it?

We will all do what we want to, when we can do it. Because human beings are predisposed to doing what makes us happy. And we already do it in bits and pieces. There are moments when we shut down, take a break, watch a movie, go on vacation... because at that point in time, that’s what we want.

And that’s how it should be, always. Resolutions shouldn’t become a burden. A resolution can’t make us do what our brain can. If we decide to lose weight and go through with it, it’s because of our personal resolve, not the resolution. And if we stop midway, it’s because some part of us said we’re not ready.

If we really wanted to do something, then we wouldn’t wait for a particular day of the year to start it; we would start right away. There are two idioms that ring true in December:

1) Do today, what you want to do tomorrow.

2) The right things happen at the right time.

We’ll all be okay if we just decide to do one thing in 2016: be happy. And, so, if you find a big roll of bubble wrap, don’t aim to finish it all by yourself. You’re going to get bored and give it up. Instead, share it.

Alright, I have to go lose some weight now. Happy New Year.

Comedian - Neville Shah

Shah is a half-Gujarati, half-Parsi (and often angry about it) stand-up comedian and writer. He tweets as @craziebawa

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