Finally, after 31 years of making them, I’ve had a bit of an epiphany about New Year’s Resolutions. The fact is that every January for about the last fifteen years, as the old year morphs into the new so promisingly, I’ve made about twelve really exciting resolutions.
Two of these I’ve disregarded the minute I’ve woken up on New Year’s Day (boring, pointless, or Too Much Like Hard Work). Nine of the remaining ten I have thrown myself at enthusiastically for somewhere between one and three days before either forgetting all about them or finding really good excuses not to worry about them any more. The final resolution often gets kept for anything up to a couple of weeks, but eventually that falls by the wayside too.
This year I suddenly remembered the resolutions I made as a child. Unlike those of recent years, usually created in an excited haze on a New Year’s Eve fuelled by bubbly and the collective enthusiasm of the assembled group for the promise of the new year, my childhood resolutions were different in three ways:
1. They were actually important to me – I’d thought about them for weeks
2. I only ever made one at a time
3. I actually kept them
Until I was about twelve, the concept of making more than one New Year’s Resolution wouldn’t even have occurred to me. Then I read The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ (a genius book – run out and buy/borrow/steal it if you haven’t already read it) and noticed that Adrian made about ten resolutions every year. Suddenly I realised that I could too – so I did. In more recent years, Bridget Jones’ list of resolutions that fills two pages at the beginning of her Diary has probably encouraged thousands of us to make as many resolutions as we can think of in the hope that we might actually end up keeping one of them.
Finally I’ve seen the error of my ways. I can’t even remember any of the resolutions I made last year, although I know I made several. So this year, it’s all different. I’ve made two resolutions, both of which I’ve been thinking about for ages, both of which are really important to me, and both of which will make a real difference to my life if I keep them. Which, so far, I am doing.
I’ve already got an enormous sense of achievement for having managed (easily!) to keep my two resolutions for a week. If I get to the end of the year having turned my resolutions into habits then it won’t matter that I “only” made two – my life will be immeasurably better for having kept two than it would have been had I simply forgotten about another twelve.
Bring on 2014!