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Africans reflect on new year's resolutions

By Otiato Opali in Nairobi, Kenya | | Updated: 2023-01-19 18:28
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Despite many people across Africa looking towards the new year with mixed feelings, as the world welcomes the year 2023, many still follow the tradition of making new year's resolutions hoping for a better future.

According to a poll, titled Global predictions for 2023, published by Ipsos, a global polling firm, Africans who were polled said that there is uncertainty about both short- and long-term futures.

"Following a very challenging couple of years in 2020 and 2021, many people in Africa feel 2022 was a little better. Those polled indicated that they are struggling to be optimistic about 2023 as most express concern about the state of the economy, the environment and security," IPSOS said in the poll published in December.

According to the poll, 86 percent of the people polled on the continent say they will make some personal resolutions to do some specific things for themselves or others in 2023. This implies that despite the challenges of the past and while facing an uncertain future, Africans are still hopeful to improve their condition.

Ken Aringo, a Kenyan psychologist, said that people like to make resolutions because the words 'New Year' bring with them a sense of renewal, through which they are driven to want to have newness in their own lives.

"Making new year resolutions has been culturally passed down to us and has become a trend. Human beings copy each other. If one person is doing something, there is a way in which we get sucked up in it. You can call it peer pressure or societal pressure," Aringo said.

Aringo's analysis is reflected in Frida Kanampiu's thoughts on new year's resolutions. Kanampiu, a banker in Kenya, thinks they are worthwhile in the sense that they make people feel like they have some sort of control in their lives.

"Resolutions help us to believe that we can have a new slate where we can move to the next page. This translates into leaving the bad habits in the last page or last year and embracing new ones in the new year. I have never stuck to any of my past resolutions, at least not religiously past the end of January, but I will keep making them," Kanampiu said.

This year, she has made the resolution to start her home ownership project by applying for a mortgage from her employer. She said that by being a banker, she has access to subsidized interest rates but she has not managed to take advantage of that due to prior engagements.

"I am hoping to look out for an affordable house and commit myself by applying for a mortgage to buy the house. I have been renting for the past four years since I have had commitments like paying school fees for my younger siblings but since they are all out of school, I think it is time I thought about myself," Kanampiu said.

On the other hand, Aringo added that there are people who set new year resolutions because it is exciting to set them. Such people do not put in place actionable plans to achieve the set resolutions.

"There is also that little pressure of someone asking you what your resolutions are and you want to have something to report about. Nowadays it is called the fear of missing out," Aringo said.

He emphasized that psychologically, goals should be structured in order to be achieved and any idea without execution is just an idea.

Lusanda Mashiya, a South African college student, said that she believes that new year's resolutions are just an exciting way to give yourself hope for the new year but they do not go far.

"I prefer to do goal setting instead, especially on my birthday, and work towards achieving them. I have tried making new year's resolutions in the past but I always end up with quarterly goals instead of whole year resolutions. However, I believe the resolutions are worthwhile because they are like a scorecard of sorts, ensuring you are on track with the set goals," Mashiya said.

This year Mashiya is hoping to open a physical shop for her online business. Despite being a student, she said that she sells football jerseys to her fellow students but she recently expanded her clientele after moving her business online.

"Since I am almost through with college, I hope that by the end of this year I will have a physical shop where I can serve both walk-in customers and also refer my online customers to the shop. Currently, I work with riders who deliver the jerseys to customers by motorcycles," Mashiya said.

"I am also planning on doing a short fitness course to become a fitness trainer. I would love to make money from that while helping people build the bodies they want and to be more comfortable with themselves, as I know how it is to be insecure and uncomfortable in your own body," she added.

Aringo said that regardless of the reason why people make new year resolutions and whether or not they keep them, resolutions play an important role in shaping the human psyche.

"There is something called rebooting in computer language. It is very important. The worthwhileness of making the resolution is the sense of renewal and also the satisfaction of knowing that you are in a process of transformation and growth. If I have the exact same resolutions today that I will have five years from now, something is wrong with me. That is why you should also assess your growth path," Aringo said.

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