Well, 2015 has arrived and in typical south-west Scotland style has brought with it heavy rain and strong winds, along with a day of rest and the opportunity to finish the last of the goodies in the fridge before the diet starts tomorrow.
It strikes me that the 1st (or even 2nd) of January are relatively poor days to begin a diet, especially if you don’t have anything pressing to lose weight for except for an elusive ‘get fit’ goal that is as easily dismissed as made. I’ve got something pretty important happening in 29 days from now though – my wedding – and as I can’t quite fasten my kilt right now I need to lose a couple of inches from around my middle in quick order. But I’m aware that the majority of people don’t have such a goal or such an impetus to keep going with a New Year’s Resolution aimed at diet or fitness and are likely to give up within the next 10 days and only give their resolution half-hearted support from then onwards.
Likewise other ‘improvement’ resolutions that people make – quitting smoking, easing off their drinking, finishing some big project or task that’s continually been put to the bottom of the to do list during 2014, introducing another sort of good habit (such as rising early or reading a “Bible in a Year” book or some such thing) – can all easily fall by the wayside if they aren’t realistic or achievable or there isn’t a clearly defined reason for making the change. We (and I include myself in this) usually need a motivator besides ‘it’s good for me’ to do anything that could be categorised as particularly difficult or complex or boring.
New Year’s Resolutions are an absolutely fine and valid way to seek to improve your health or your home or your ability to earn a living or any other measure that can be said to be improvable. I’m not against the theory of New Year’s Resolutions by any means. I just think that there should be a recognition that we have to pick something realistic to resolve to do, or else it’s not a resolution that we will be able to keep. I personally have a slightly different idea about resolutions, one I’ve shared with my family and something they have taken to enthusiastically. I make a list containing at least 2 things that would traditionally be seen as a ‘resolution’, at least 2 things that would get a clear and obvious result or outcome and at least 2 things that have no practical value whatsoever and would purely be for fun. My aim is always to complete at least half of the list by the end of the year. I never aim to do everything, nor do I distinguish between ‘things I must do’ and ‘things I’d like to do’. I simply tell myself that by Christmas 2015, I’ll have ticked half the things off.
I don’t like the idea of a New Years Resolution that someone wakes on the 1st January with the idea that they absolutely have to complete, come what may. A wish made or dream dreamed at the end of December will not take into account any of the hurdles that we’ll encounter the following year. And if something was too difficult to do in 2014 it won’t have gotten any easier just because the calendar has turned. You cannot predict the future, or our actions and abilities in that same future, except by our experience of the past.
I once had a friend who told me that he was very good at quitting smoking as, ‘I quit as a New Year’s Resolution every year’. You’ll probably be joining me in wondering why he persisted in the charade of trying to quit on the 1st January each year if he knew that he’d end up re-starting. If I were him I’d have waited until mid-February or something and then sought medical assistance to quit smoking – get the whole New Year, New Me ‘thing’ out of the way and then quietly yet determinedly seek a more practical way of making your resolution stick permanently.
He was, of course, making a joke out of something that he needed to do and stick to in order to improve his health. The idea of Resolutions is something of a joke for many, things you say you’ll do yet never achieve. Yet there is a reason why diet clubs, health food suppliers, and so on and so forth, make an absolute fortune at this time of year. To them it’s profit, not amusement.
So I’d like to invite you, friends, relatives, anonymous readers and everyone in between, NOT to make any resolutions this year. Instead, think of your hopes and your dreams. Identify something that will make you laugh, something that will make you think, something you could stand back and look at and say ‘I did that’. Dare to speak your dreams and wishes out loud. Don’t make the usual, boring, predictable resolutions – instead, make a list that you’ll be able to look at next Christmas with a smile on your face, saying, ‘I did that’.
Happy New Year, one and all. Let’s hope 2015 is a good one.