This year, I resolve not to make new year resolutions.
I think I dislike new year resolutions for several reasons:
1. Since January 1st is a favourite fresh start for so many people resolutions become public. Mine become known to others and I hear of theirs. This feeds into my competitive spirit and, before I know it, I have set unrealistic goals and ultimately set myself up to fail. This failure kick-starts a vicious cycle of seeing myself as a failure and helps no one.
2. January 1st isn’t actually a great time to start something new, especially since so many resolutions focus on health and wellbeing. I may resolve to get fitter, but the weather conditions do not lend themselves to this; rain, cold, and dark days are not conducive to forging new habits outdoors. January is more a period of hibernation for me and recognising this prevents me from setting up myself for continued failings and frustrations (see point 1). Spring seems a much better time to commit to such ideals.
3. New year new me. I’ve used that mantra in the past and it’s been a load of rubbish. Embracing new habits, routines, desires, and goals isn’t in itself negative, but when it comes at the cost of your old self its value is diminished. To me, new year new me has suggested wiping the slate clean and starting again. It’s taken many years for me to realise that not everything about me is abhorrent and some things are even OK or, dare I say (whisper) it, good. New year new me dismisses the hard work I have undertaken in various periods of my life. Sure, some still require new focus and plenty more application (physical fitness), but some have achieved far greater levels and stability than expected (mental health). So, in 2019 it’s new year same me, but I’m open to change.
4. In my mind at least, starting on January 1st sets you a target of 365 days for success. Even though I rationally know it is made up of 52 weeks and 12 months, if I have wobbled or not met my target by, say, the 5th then it’s game over for me. Starting on a less notable date reduces (note, reduces not removes) some of that self-imposed pressure.
5. Starting on January 1st makes me feel like I need to start all resolutions together. I’ve done this several times and this quickly becomes unmanageable. Trying to lose (mumbles large number of) stone, run 10K, learn Italian, focus on my career, and see immediate progress in all areas is unrealistic. And I am the kind of person who needs immediate results to maintain the early motivation. This year I may tackle challenges like the above, but experience has taught me that starting any more than two simultaneously is a hiding to nothing.
In 2019 I will set myself challenges and goals. Many will match the clichés that bombard us at new year – eat better, drink less alcohol, exercise more – but some will be personal to me and mine. Understandably, I have focused on parenting this past year, but sometimes that has been at my wife’s expense. On occasions we have felt more like co-workers than partners, but I’m ashamed to admit that I wouldn’t treat co-workers as poorly. My wife is my rock and I often take that and her for granted.
Actually, scrap all that. I’m going to break my own resolution of no resolutions on January 1st. Instead, I promise to show my wife each and every day how much I love her, how much I like her, and how much I cherish being a parent alongside her. Not just in 2019 but always.