Happy 2015, dear reader. How are you? I hope your festive season was joyful, relaxing and as sparkly as possible.
I’m sure that everyone’s Christmas experience is unique, but there are a couple of thoughts that most (if not all) of us have towards the end of the holiday season:
1) I love my family, but I could probably go a few weeks/months/decades without seeing them now.
2) I have GOT to eat a salad.
Ending the year with good intentions for the future leads me neatly onto my main topic for today, which is new year’s resolutions. Of course, many people don’t want or need the excuse of January 1st to try new things or give stuff up. In some ways it seems bizarre to block out twelve months of our lives and classify them as having been collectively “good” or “bad”, and to make decisions about our future based on the events that took place during that time. Is that why the tradition of making resolutions prevails in our culture? Because we need to believe that we can divide our lives into units of what we have done and what we are going to do?
There is nothing wrong with doing this, of course, or with most traditions in general. Tradition – as the characters of Fiddler on the Roof know very well – is extremely important. Traditions can be religious, cultural or local. They can even be something that only you and one other person abide by, such as the annual game of pooh sticks that I play on Hungerford Bridge with my friend Paul. We do it on New Year’s Day, and each stick represents a resolution for the year ahead. The original idea was that the person whose stick came out first was most likely to keep their resolution. This year it was so windy that our sticks kept flying back to hit us in the knees, so we had to improvise slightly. (“Shall we just go to the other side of the bridge and chuck them downriver?” “Er…yeah.”)
I don’t know about you, but Paul and I usually find that our resolutions stay fairly similar year on year: there’s always a resolution about learning to manage our money, and another about improving ourselves in general. There also tends to be something project-based (Paul: “Build a PC!”) and an optimistic love life goal (Me: “Sort it out”). In some ways it is disheartening to think that our aims are inching rather than leaping forward, but then who can be expected to completely change their lives in just one year? Or two? Or three? Or…oh…I’m spotting a problem here…
People’s resolutions stay similar because we are only human. No matter how many years we are given or how good our intentions are at the time of resolve, we will probably never achieve complete perfection. Paul, God bless him, never criticises me for the fact that “clear my overdraft” has been on my resolutions list for the last three years in a row, and I appreciate that. He does remind me of my successes, e.g. last year I resolved to take a show to the Edinburgh Fringe, which I did.
This time of year can be very tricky, because we are caught in a limbo world of recovering from the previous year and trying to plan the next. If we think that we have made little progress over the past year, we can become pessimistic about what we are capable of in the next one. The important thing is to keep going, keep trying, and to make sure that you have people around you who will remind you of how far you’ve come.
Have a glorious Friday, and a wonderful 2015. You have achieved a lot more than you think.