New Year’s Resolution: A GOOD WESTERN IDEA [Archives:1999/02/Viewpoint]

January 11 1999

I want to devote this week’s editorial to a useful tradition that exists in the West. At the beginning of every year, individuals look back at the year just completed, take stock of their situation, and plan for the new year. The first step in this planning process is to take a resolution (or a few) aimed at improving their lives and performance. 
The resolution can be simple or elaborate. Some people decide to quit smoking, others may wish to go back to school. When I was in the United State, a neighboring couple decided to simply pack up and move to another state. They had been thinking about the move for a while. In short, the new year is a moment to think deeply about one’s conditions and decide to do something to bring about a meaningful change. 
Unfortunately, we do not have such a tradition in our Yemeni community. That does not mean we do not plan. Some of us do. But, we do not have a conscious re-thinking at a certain specific moment in time. In my opinion, we can pick up this habit, and start applying it. To me, it looks like a good idea which can be given universal application. I am hoping we can apply it here in Yemen. 
What are the things we can address in a new year resolution? 
Of course, this is a totally private matter, and individuals can decide for themselves depending on their conditions and priorities. But there are a few shared concerns. 
Let us see. There are some bad social habits. Smoking and chewing qat will top this list. Can individuals, especially the young and educated look into the possibility of quitting smoking and/or chewing qat? This would a welcome decision at many levels. The individual will enjoy a better health, more available income, more time, etc. The family will be spared the hazards of the smoke and the chew, and will have more money to spend on other needs. Society will also benefit directly and indirectly. 
There are issues related to performance at the job. Can government clerks make a commitment to show up at work on time, and stay put until the end of the working hours? This will lead to marked improvements in their performance. 
Our young people, especially those going to school, can make decisions that will have marvelous effects on their learning. Most young people do not plan their spare time. If they can commit to spend one hour every day, say in the evenings, to study, that will make wonders. Some of the young people can also spare one hour every day for sports or other physical exercise. 
Our politicians, officials and security/army officers have lots of room to improve their performance. I could think of a dozen resolutions they could make. Sheikhs and businessmen can also afford a couple of resolutions. 
Whatever the decision, the “New Year Resolution” is a fantastic habit which can only lead to a better life. It is up to individuals to choose the decision, but once they do so, it is going to be hopefully honored. 
I have made my resolution!