There’s something so promising about the new year. The anticipation, the excitement, even the anxiety about what the next year may bring. The resetting of the clocks, the satisfying minimalism of single digits in the date that mark the brand new arrival of a new year. This time of year is frequently hailed as a ‘fresh start’ and with it, many of us enter the new year with a list of New Year’s resolutions.
“New Year, New You!” is the slogan emblazoned across many a magazine this month, an entire wall of them staring down from supermarket aisles. You place one in your trolley, that promises ‘How to get fit without lifting a finger!’ and ‘8 New ways to organise your make-up drawers!’ amongst your new found salad ingredients, low-fat yoghurts and quinoa. You are convinced that 2015 will be your year. You are going to rock it, own it, make it yours, or any other overused New Year turn of phrase that takes your fancy.
But we know that this is nothing special, or even new, and we unfortunately also know that by the time that Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year on the third Monday of January, arrives, healthy choices will no longer be found in your shopping basket. Soon, cans of Pringles, Chocolate Fingers and frozen pizzas will be piling up. A vague sense of regret, guilt and a sliver of mild satisfaction pervades you. You’ve just accepted your defeat. 2015 will be just another year.
Don’t let it dishearten you. It happens to many and most and it happens every year. If anything, you were doomed to fail in the first place. Every year many people set out to improve themselves, become a better ‘them’, and every year and a month later, the majority of those same people slide back into their old ways. That is just the way things happen.
However, please don’t take what I write as a damnation of all efforts of self-improvement. Quite the contrary, I just hate seeing valiant efforts of change being stomped on in the face of public expectation. I find it admirable, unbelievable even, that people would endeavour to improve themselves during one of the most indulgent periods of the year. The notion that through this season of consumerist gluttony we can still find a sliver of willpower to reject all these things that are natural during the festive period. Who is going to manage to save more money when the Boxing Day sales beckon? Who is going to lose weight when all the Christmas chocolates are now reduced? No one.
What I would like to stress is that New Year’s is not the only time to change yourself. If there is truly something that you would like to take up or change, just remember that should you fail in January, June or July is calling you too. If you have the strong urge to take up marathon training and finding if difficult staying motivated in running into cold, brisk winds and through icy puddles, remember that running in April with warm, calm conditions will make your training infinitely more enjoyable. Starting the gym on the first of January must be a horrible experience given the crowded pits of the weight room and the queues for the machines. Take advantage of it during the year when outdoor exercise becomes more popular and the air-conditioned rooms are, surprisingly, a pleasure to be in. You begin to look forward to the things that you used to consider a chore.
Maybe I’m just jealous of those who manage to carry out their resolutions for more than the first two weeks of January but I certainly believe that if a change is worth making, then giving up and proceeding to leave it until the next year is not the way to do it. Yes, the year passes by so quickly, but think of the months in between each New Year’s Eve that are wasted away by those who don’t see them to be worth their time. Too many have been lost in the depths of February to resolve that “Ah, never mind, I’ll try again next year”.
If you want to make a New Year’s resolution and manage to keep it, I applaud you and your strength in the face of everything I have outlined, but if you want to really change yourself, remember that the rest of the year is just as good an opportunity to do so.