Monday, January 27, 2020

New Year Resolutions

Here we are, with the first month of the new decade flying past us. (Or, depending when you’re reading this, having flown past us.). My hope for you is that, up to this point, you have not made any New Year’s Resolutions.


You heard me right. New Year’s Day is the absolute worst time to make a life-decision. First off, you’re hung-over (or you ought to be) and, unless your partner is tea-total and got up early to clean the flat, you are almost certainly still physically surrounded by the evidence of your excesses. And worst of all, this is beginning to feel like a normal day. You have just come through an eight-week season where over-eating and binge-drinking are not merely tolerated, but encouraged, your face is stretched into a frozen grin of forced jollity and an uncomfortable horror gnaws at the back of your mind whenever your thoughts turn toward your credit card balance. Any resolutions you make in this state are bound to cause regret.

“I’ll quit drinking,” “I’ll eat better,” “I’ll go to the gym every morning,” “I’ll spend more time with my family.” These are all enviable propositions, but proclaiming them on New Year’s Day and then breaking them—as you surely will—within a fortnight will only add to your self-loathing.

Therefore, my advice is to give yourself time to adjust. Sober up, help your partner clean away the detritus of your debauchery, take part—if you must—in in Dry January, have a salad and beans on toast for dinner, go for a walk, and most importantly, allow your distant relatives and holiday-only friendships to fade into the background where they belong. Ease back into work. Pick up the threads you let go of in mid-December. Allow life to return to normal.


Then, when February arrives, and the grey, sombre days are no longer artificially cheered by bright lights and festive gatherings, and there is nothing to look forward to but winter, you can gaze into your soul with sober reflection and decide, in a reasoned and rational manner, where your life is lacking, and where it might benefit from judicious tweaking.

If given the option, I would pass a law against making New Year’s Resolutions on New Year’s Day. That will never happen, of course; the gymnasium lobby and fad diet gurus—who realize 90% of their annual income due to New Year’s Resolutions—would lobby against it, and they have many more followers than I do.

I will, instead, grant you permission to drop your 2020 resolutions (as if you haven’t already) and have a rethink. Did you resolve to quit drinking? I know, I know, you were terribly hung over, there were bottles and cans spread across the living room floor, and it was all you could do to not spew (again) from the stench. I expect, now that you’re sober, you are finding it harder than you anticipated. I therefore recommend you take advantage of my Resolution Amnesty, drop the good intentions and maybe just propose to cut down imbibing to a reasonable level. Wasted £357 on a gym membership you’re never going to use? There’s not much to be done about that, but you might schedule an hour or two a week there, instead of “every morning from 5:30 to 6:45” which no sane person would attempt.

So, instead of a New Year's Resolution, make a February Resolution (no hurry, you have all month). In this manner, perhaps, from March onward, you’ll see some real progress, and enter 2021 in a better place, mentally and/or physically and/or spiritually than you were in on 31 December 2019.

And if you are ever tempted to make a New Year’s Resolution again, make it, “I will never make a New Year’s Resolution again.” You’ll be much better off, believe me.