Whilst Edinburgh is undoubtably Queen of Hogmanay – this year I’m resolute I am not falling into the trap of New Year’s Resolutions.
My husband doesn’t believe in new year’s resolutions. He says that if you want to make a change in your life you should do it immediately, whatever the time of year. He’s right of course (he often is) but that doesn’t stop me from setting at least three unattainable goals every January.
Because I love planning, lists and goals, setting out my annual objectives for the year ahead really appeals to me. There’s also the feeling of a new year being a fresh start and an opportunity to put all the bad habits behind you. But that’s a wholly artificial construct. There isn’t really anything significant about changing the last digit on the date (congratulations to anyone who achieves that right from the beginning of the year though, usually takes me until March to get used to it). Lasting change is much more likely if it is made in response to a genuine trigger, not just because the earth has done another revolution round the sun.
There are several repeat resolutions that I’ve made every new year for the past five years, which confirms that my commitment to following through on my January promises to myself has a pretty poor success rate. The changes that I have successfully converted into habits this past year have come about gradually, each one triggered by individual circumstances rather than because I set out to make a list. For example, I now walk or run to and from work most days instead of getting the bus. This is the lasting legacy of doing a step count challenge in June which made me realise how achievable (and beneficial) that is. Also, after years of laziness, I now remove my makeup every night. This one was triggered by starting a new job with lots of much younger women so let’s not dwell on that too much! The point is that changes are much more likely to stick if they come about organically over time rather than being forced by the convention of bettering ourselves at the beginning of the year.
Maybe this will be the year that I floss every day (floss my teeth that is – I’ve been making that resolution since way before the start of the fancy dance move that I can’t do) or keep in touch with my friends better (sorry friends), but it’s much more likely that I will continue to be hit and miss on both unless my teeth fall out or my friends become inexplicably high maintenance (none of them are, it’s the only way this works).
So I’m not making any resolutions for 1 January 2019. Not because everything is perfect; far from it, I have plenty of bad habits! And not because my husband doesn’t believe in them (that’s never stopped me before), but because I’ve come to realise that an annual evaluation and long list of life improvements hasn’t been effective for me before so it’s time to try a different approach.
From now on I’ll evaluate things on an ongoing basis and make changes as and when they’re required. Hmm, that sounds suspiciously like a resolution in itself. I knew it would be a hard habit to break!