opinionBy Rosenthal Mutakati
I almost ran over a column of shirtless young men and women, some with children strapped on their backs, who were dancing and singing in the middle of the road before midnight in Harare on December 31, 2012.
So merry was this group whose members could be seen clutching all sorts of lagers, cidars and spirits while singing and dancing with reckless abandon.
The noise grew louder-and-louder as the time approached midnight when a city hotel illuminated the skies with powerful fireworks displays.
The booming of the fireworks shook the ground and rattled windowpanes of so many a building across the city.
Hordes of people could be heard singing loudly while others poured beer all over themselves in ecstacy.
"Tapinda, tapinda", "Happy New Year!" "Happy 2013," "God is faithful," "Mwari ane nyasha," people could be heard saying.
Some, overcome by emotion, cried.
Away from the city centre, reports say the New Year was greeted by the loud and piercing sound of firecrackers and wild cheers.
Bottle stores enjoyed brisk business as imbibers and the lonely embraced the New Year.
Some businesspeople charged fees for patrons to await the New Year in their pubs amid the strumming of guitars by musicians and wild dancing by waist-wiggling dancing queens.
The religious embraced the New Year in various churches countrywide listening to God's Word.
Calls were made across the length and breath of the globe as people wished friends and relatives well in the new New Year.
But entering the New Year, a sure sign that your age has grown by at least 12 more months, is not enough.
It is common knowledge that January comes after December of every year and whether or not you run up-and-down the streets drinking beer and performing lewd dance routines will not change the course of events.
The beginning of the New Year means a lot for everyone under the sun.
According to experts, New Year's resolutions are exactly the wrong way to change our behaviour.
It makes no sense to try to quit smoking and lose weight at the same time, or to clean the apartment and give up wine in the same month.
Instead, we should respect the feebleness of self-control and spread our resolutions out over the entire year.
Human routines are stubborn things, which helps explain why 88 percent of all resolutions end in failure, according to a 2007 survey of over 3 000 people conducted by the British psychologist Richard Wiseman.
Bad habits, the experts say, are hard to break -- and they're impossible to break if we try to break them all at once.
But how then do people succeed in their plans for the year?
"Some simple tricks can help. The first step is self-awareness: The only way to fix willpower flaws is to know about them. Only then can the right mental muscles get strengthened, making it easier to succeed at our annual ritual of self-improvement."
www.dailyfitnesscenter.com says some people make unrealistic goals and wonder why they fail.
"If you've never been to the gym in your life and you want to start going five times per week, you might not be physically able to do that. When muscles are too sore, people start quitting. If you really want to workout five times a week, do it in baby steps. In the first month go three times a week, then four times and finally five times."
The New Year means a lot for schoolchildren who need to plan adequately for their examinations and teachers who need to cover their syllabuses on time to ensure they prepare pupils for external exams.
Mathematics is a bad news subject for most pupils. Numerous report cards attest to this fact as schoolchildren fail to reach the 50 percent mark required to escape with the C Grade. The problem largely lies in attitude. Once a child tells himself that he cannot solve a mathematical problem, he begins to hate the subject and the result is total failure.
A recent independent assessment of past mathematics exam papers showed that the format of questioning has never changed much since independence.
Candidates are asked to simplify, factorise, divide and sketch diagrams on graph papers and not in the sky, but still they continue to come second best.
The time to conquer that problem is now.
"How do you expect James to marry you when you have no time for him? Do you think he is a fool and the world has no ears?" I heard an aunt chiding her niece.
And she was not wrong. To entertain any hope of a happy marriage, the couple involved should be in perfect agreement and the time to sow the seeds of the envisaged happiness is now.
For parents and guardians, the beginning of the New Year means putting in place financial resources for the administration of their homes and searching for even more cash to meet costs.
There is nothing as demeaning as telling your child that you cannot fulfill your role of feeding him and sending him to school when you knew before hand that January was coming and the child would never stop eating to grow fast and healthy.
This is the time when people make or unmake themselves through planning. If your resolution is to build a house this year, then stop drinking, dancing and kissing because no horse can pull while kicking.
Taking one day at a time allows for perfection in one's endeavours.
A stitch in time saves nine. It pays greatly to put one's shoulder to the load and start doing something instead of sitting down whining at the expense of progress.
If one's resolution is to get married this year, the time to raise cash for lobola and the wedding is now. It also pays to have the woman in place first than first raising the dowry in the absence of the person to be married.
Half-round chicken kicks that often result in people lowering their dignity and failing to meet expected standards are a result of not planning now.
The beginning of the New Year is just the right time when corporate entities plan for success or plan to fail by making blinkered decisions that make their products and services lose the much-needed competitive edge on the market.
Without any survival strategy or tangible plan of action, entering the New Year is not enough.
A jobless man who spends half his time looking for a job is far better than his pal who sits and does nothing about his situation.
The most trusted helping hand is at the end of your arms, the elders say. But most people plan to fail by basing their projections on someone abandoning his own life's pressures to assist them first.
Celebrated linguist Noam Chomsky argues: "Whether a person feels positive or not is kind of a comment on their personality and of no great interest. You can find positive signs or you can find negative signs. How you evaluate them depends on something that happened in your life recently or something like that.
"There's no objective way to do it. The important thing is you try to commit yourself to making the positive signs more real. Suppose you felt that there's 99 percent of a probability that human civilisation is going to be destroyed in the next hundred years, but 1 percent chance it won't be and that 1 percent offers some opportunities to do something. Well, you commit yourself to that one percent."
And nothing can be truer, people must learn to work for themselves and not expect things to improve on their own.
The case also applies to political parties.
The beginning of the year is the right time to sell their manifestos to the electorate to avoid cases akin to a situation where a man pitches up with lobola for a woman he has never spoken to.
Even in the working environment, positive results stem from positive planning underpinned by sound working relations.
Leaders without time with their subordinates often fail to meet their key result areas unlike those who identify with the ordinary people who are quick to identify problem areas and recommend fast remedial action.
Let's plan wisely and not make unrealistic goals.