Why Do Malaysians Make (and Fail) Their New Year’s Resolutions?

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It’s the start of a new year.

Your feed is full of people’s self-congratulatory statuses.

“New Year, New Me” “This is gonna be OUR year” “2019 sucked, bring on 2020!”

To add to that, there are a flood of New Year’s Resolutions that people make. But what about 2019 resolutions? It turns out the majority of people failed them.

We at IRL decided to go down to the ground and ask why. Watch the video here:

Here are the top 3 common resolutions that people make (and why they fail):

#1 “I’m gonna lose weight!”

It’s the world’s number one resolution, and it’s also the hardest. Everyone would love to have abs like The Rock, or a butt like Kim Kardashian.

Here’s a rundown of your typical gym membership: That first month, your local gym is packed with New Years Resolution makers. By February, about 50% will have dropped off.

By the time April comes around, the gym is back to its usual set of regulars — until 2021 rolls around.

So why do people fail this resolution the most?

“Most guys don’t realise that going to the gym isn’t a training course, it’s a whole lifestyle shift,” says Leo, bodybuilder.

It’s not that people are lazy or that they didn’t try hard enough. It’s usually because going to the gym is something you dislike. But you do it anyway to avoid a bigger thing you dislike (like getting a stroke).

“I do go to the gym regularly. But when work piles up,  I tend to neglect my gym time, and once I stop, it’s hard to pick it back up again,” sighed Francis.

[Michelle’s New Year’s Resolution is to make more friends. Source: IRL]

Sounds like a lot of work, right? It is. But instead of forcing yourself to go to the gym, why not join a dance class or a yoga class?

That way, becoming fit is only a side effect of an enjoyable activity.

“Gym is so boring! I’d rather be travelling or snorkelling in the islands,” said Shafi, who goes on jaunts to Pulau Tioman every year.

“My goal isn’t to lose weight actually. It’s to feel happy and motivated,” Christie, a regular gym goer, revealed.

#2 “I’m gonna be financially free!”

The second-most common resolution is having money on your mind and your mind on your money.

After the excesses of New Year celebrations, belts are tightening, wallets are lightening, and your bank account is frightening.

So what are Malaysians doing to achieve their financial goals?

“I started a burger joint,” says Cody Coex Foo, a beatboxer based in KL.

“I edit webcomics on weekends,” says Carol, whose day job is at a publishing firm.

“I do Grabfood on the side,” says Nabilah, an events management trainee.

[Leo & Audrey had fitness goals for 2019, but only Audrey achieved hers: “He hardly went to the gym!” Source: IRL]
The gig economy is real. On the internet, there are tons of ways to earn a second income, like translation work, content writing, and even voice-over acting.

So why do most Malaysians find it difficult to save?

“It’s partly due to the economy, and it’s partly Malaysians being lazy lah,” admitted Kit Siang.

“Your brudders jio you go yumcha,  how can you say no?” he shrugs.

It’s true that it takes discipline to save, and most Malaysians are pretty laid back about life.

“We tend to fall for scams a lot,” says a friend who did not wish to be named.

Instead of focusing on short-term get rich quick schemes, focus on upskilling yourself. More skills equate to more opportunities.

#3 “I’m gonna be less lazy!”

People say this, but it’s usually with the same conviction as a forgotten bowl of soggy, cold noodles.

How do you quantify what “less lazy” means? Does it mean binge-watching fewer Netflix shows? Ordering takeout twice a week (only)? Changing your bedsheets once a week instead of every 1-2 months?

But when you have a clear idea of what being ‘less lazy’ means, it’s a lot easier to visualise what success looks like.

For example, which one seems more like a concrete goal?

“I want to run 1 marathon this year.” v.s.  “I want to jog more this year.” If you didn’t jog at all last year, even one round around the track counts as jogging more, so you’ve technically achieved your goal!

In one of our videos, we asked a bunch of random strangers what they’re doing for new year resolutions.

Quite a few said they wanted to lose weight. One guy wanted to learn the piano. But it was this ACCA student who said the most realistic thing about achieving her New Year’s resolution:

[Syaza had a tough second year, but 2020 will be her time to shine! Source: IRL]

“I want to complete my degree,” Syaza shared.

“Last year, I didn’t pass my exam for this one module. I was left behind by the others because I study slower than most people. So this year, I plan to study harder.”

I asked her how she planned to study harder.

“Well, I know myself more this year. So I will put in more hours to be on top of my work even if iI miss out on the other things in life.”

So how do you make a New Year’s Resolution work?

The truth is — getting fitter, earning more money, and being more productive is possible. But it takes more than a wishful New Year’s Resolution to make them work.

Understand that it’s an ongoing process. Results won’t be seen the very next day. Here are some mantras to remember when going through your New Years’ Resolutions:

  1. Start small, work your way up.
  2. Focus on one goal at a time.
  3. Make everything a force of habit.
  4. Treat it like a marathon, not a 100-meter dash.
  5. If you fail, never give up.
  6. Lastly, always remind yourself that tomorrow is a new day.

“It gets easier. Every day it gets a little easier. But you gotta do it every day. That’s the hard part. But it does get easier.” – Bojack Horseman, Season 2

For more tips on getting your ass off the couch, read: You’re Not Exercising for These 4 Reasons (And Why You Really Should) and 5 Malaysian Motivational Speakers to Learn From.

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