New Year Resolution: Do make one!

December 29, 2016

The countdown to 2017 has begun. It is time to wish each other a happy new year; and make resolutions.

Making New Year Resolutions is an ancient tradition. Ancient Romans used to begin each year by making promises to Janus – the God after whom the month of January is named. Over time the concept evolved and the resolutions moved into the mould of self-improvement. Now, we find them in the arena of enhancing knowledge or skills (like learning a musical instrument, a new language etc.); doing things for family/improving relationships (like going on a family trip, spending time with children/parents, forgiving someone); and taking care of health (like quitting smoking, going for exercise to loose weight) etc.

A 2007 study from University of Boston found that 88% of the people who make New Year’s resolutions fail. Top two reasons for this are: setting unrealistic goals; and not keeping track of the progress.

Why should one make New Year’s Resolutions when they are more likely to fail?

The fear of failure should not stop us. There is an inherent element of failure in all plans. Isn’t it? A successful person is the one who sets realistic goals, makes plans to achieve them and executes them as best as possible. So, go head and do make a New Year’s Resolution for 2017. Instead of being overwhelmed by the majority, get inspiration from the 12% people who did succeed in achieving what they had resolved to do. Be with the achievers.

screen-shot-2016-12-29-at-10-01-41Make a new beginning. Don’t let the failures of past affect your determination to succeed. Forgive those how have hurt you. Forgiveness will not only improve relationships, it will free you of bitterness and negativity and you will be able to pursue your dreams with full energy.

I wish all a very happy and successful 2017. May it open new doors for you and bring peace in the world.




Meet their `aspirations` not just needs

December 31, 2014

I recently visited an exhibition set up by the students of the International School of Geneva. The exhibition displayed projects of young students that showed their creativity as well as sensitivity.

Experiences of physically handicapped and visually impaired persons — was the project of one girl. She had asked her classmates to volunteer: some were blind folded; some were put on a wheel chair; and some were asked to use crutches—for about half a day. She then interviewed them and captured their experiences.Afsar picture 11 Dec 2014

The volunteers confessed: it is only after our eyes were closed, we could empathize with a blind person; sitting on a wheel chair or using crutches, made us realize the blessing of being able to walk, run and play. They recommended: we should count our blessings and we must be sensitive to the needs of physically handicapped persons around us.

It was just a coincidence that I listened to Maryanne Diamond at a TED event @TEDxPdNations at the Palais des Nations, Geneva on the 11th December.

Maryanne Diamond cannot see herself but has a vision. She is a well-known advocate for the rights of blind persons. In a truly inspirational talk, she recounted how she missed reading books in her childhood, `I would find my siblings read books. They would sometimes read a book to me and I looked forward to that.’ She has dedicated her life to ending the current book famine for blind persons. “93% books are not on the format that blind persons can read,” she shared.

Maryanne is a living example of what people can achieve despite being physically challenged. She completed her education, has a successful career and a loving family.

Maryanne is great not because of what she has achieved for herself but because what she is doing for others. She is the Chair of the International Disability Alliance. As the President of the World Blind Union (WBU), she led the WBU’s delegation to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) negotiations, which resulted in the ground breaking Marrakesh Treaty that aims at facilitating access to published works for blind persons. She now heads the worldwide treaty ratification campaign to end the global book famine for the blind.

With technology, it is possible to have books on a format that blind persons can read. We all must be part of the movement to make it happen. We should not be satisfied by just helping a blind person cross the road. We must help them meet their aspirations, even if it means a thing as simple as just reading a book to a blind person.