The New Year’s resolutions solution

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

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

THE FIFTH COLUMN

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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