In Defence of the New Year’s Resolution

The 1st of January. Today is something of a landmark occasion.

A new beginning and all that. Time for women around the world to take the wrapping off ill-gifted 2018 calendars. Sentenced to look at pictures of bemused cats wearing bow-ties or Michael Bublé for the next 365 days.

This unique time of year carries a curious sentiment. On the one hand, everyone is depressed, bloated and hungover following a week of over-indulgence. The return to work or school hurtles towards us like an oncoming car. We moan and complain with dread. New Year’s Day is just a queue we irritably all wait in before 2018 really opens.

On the other hand, a lot of people wake up and it’s like a switch has been flicked somewhere. (Maybe it was those midnight fireworks.) Life’s long-overlooked inconveniences like our waistlines and bank balances are suddenly illuminated. An anxious energy fills the air. All the things you managed so successfully to put off for the entirety of 2017, suddenly become pressing concerns that must be addressed right away. From today.

On the 2nd of January, gyms reopen to a flood of new membership requests. People rediscover concepts like fruit and vegetables. Newly purchased running shoes are tentatively worn-in around the house, with a reluctance to venture outside should their self-conscious owners be spotted half-jogging, half-wheezing by judgmental neighbours.

The New Year’s Resolution has an infamous bad rep.

The notion divides people.

You’ll see colleagues and friends for the first time after the Christmas break, politely ask them how their holidays were, and resolutions are the next stop on the small-talk train. If you are the kind of person that admits to wanting to shed a few pounds, and comes into the office with a sad-looking salad in tupperware you prepared the night before, I salute you.

I salute you as someone who had 10 free days off at home to finally start blogging again but left it until the evening of the 1st when I really should be ironing shirts for work tomorrow…

A lot of people “don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions”. I do get it. The idea that we all become motivated human beings overnight is a farce. If you didn’t give up smoking when the doctor told you to last year, is a historical milestone going to be any more persuasive?

The thing is — it is for a lot of people.

We’re funny old creatures that like markers to measure ourselves against and narratives to conform to. For every ninety-nine people that will have started stocking up on Easter Eggs by the first week of February, or polished off a bottle of Pinot by Wednesday, someone does change their life. People quit their jobs, get big pumping iron, kill off poisonous relationships.

Who cares why or when they made the decision?

In defence of the New Year’s Resolution, the 1st of January is as good a time as any to reflect on things — your health, relationships, job satisfaction — and to try to engineer a better version of yourself.

It doesn’t matter what you want to change or start doing, how big or small, or even how successful you end up being. It’s the intent that counts.

On a practical note, making behavioral changes and forming positive habits is a whole lot easier when there are other like-minded, optimistic people at the same time putting themselves out there too.

I may or may not blog once a week every Monday for the next 52 weeks. I wouldn’t bet on it. But I’ve already blogged more than I did in 2017.

That’s worth something.