Only 8 per cent of people stick to their resolutions – but I’ll give it a go

The overarching theme is to inject a bit more balance into my everyday existence – to edge a bit closer to living “my best life”

epa07255816 Fireworks illuminate the sky around Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, during New Year's 2019 celebrations in the Gulf emirate of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 01 January 2019.  EPA/ALI HAIDER
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I slipped into 2019 in the most spectacularly unspectacular way possible. When midnight struck on December 31, I was on the sofa in my brother's house in London, reading a book, trying not to flinch as the neighbours attempted to outdo the Burj Khalifa with their (I suspect not entirely health-and-safety-compliant) home fireworks displays. 

Exhausted by the demands of my exuberant four-year-old nephew and newly teething five-month-old niece, my brother and his wife tried hard, but didn't make it to midnight. So I bade farewell to 2018 in a more unassuming, meditative fashion than is customary for someone who is known for not turning down the chance to celebrate anything. But it was fitting, given that I am happy to see the back of 2018, and looking forward to starting afresh on many fronts in 2019.

My list of New Year's resolutions is so long that I can barely keep track of its multiple, interconnected components. I hope to stop smoking (again), get back in shape (again), eat more healthily, ideally by cutting out gluten and sugar (again), wean myself off Netflix, read more, spend more time with loved ones, declutter my home, use less plastic, finally train my dog to heel, etc, etc.

The overarching theme is to inject a bit more balance into my everyday existence – to edge a teeny weeny bit closer to living “my best life”, whatever that may be. I would like to tread more lightly on the planet, in both a literal and metaphorical sense.

I accept that this year's wish list is a clutter of entirely unoriginal cliches, but sometimes you have to go back to basics. Even Bill Gates, who outlined his resolutions in a blog post on December 29, is looking over the past year and asking himself: "Did I devote enough time to my family? Did I learn enough new things? Did I develop new friendships and deepen old ones?" 

He also wants to eradicate polio and Alzheimer's disease, and identify breakthroughs in clean energy in 2019 – but, you know, baby steps. 

Unfortunately, the odds appear to be stacked against me as I embark on Operation Get Your Life Back On Track. Oft-quoted statistics suggest that only 8 per cent of people end up sticking to their New Year's resolutions. Research from the University of Scranton also shows that 30 per cent of people give up on their resolutions after only two weeks. Those who vow to quit smoking are most likely to fail in their endeavours, while a reported 30 per cent of those who attempt to eat more healthily will have thrown in the proverbial towel by February.

Apparently, one way to succeed is to make resolutions that are challenging but also realistic and tangible, rather than vague and overwhelming. Instead of "get back in shape", you should vow to "exercise at least three times a week". Instead of just aiming to travel more, you should identify specific destinations that will be ­visited by the end of the year. 

Most importantly, you must not be deterred by failure, according to countless studies, and the musings
of many
journalists and bloggers. Minor slip-ups don't mean you have to give up entirely. Accept that the path to self-improvement will not ­always run smoothly, and that even the simplest of New Year's resolutions should be treated like a long-term project. So here's to joining the 8 per cent in 2019. 


Read more of Selina's thoughts:

UAE expat view: How being home for the holidays is like travelling back in time

Our smartphones are turning us into holier than thou vigilantes

From Dubai to Abu Dhabi: some lessons learnt on a long commute

Let’s not be blasé about the range of opportunities Dubai has to offer

Missing out on family milestone events. Is this the real expat tax?