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new year same you

New Years resolutions are a total scam - I’m not making any and you shouldn’t either

Why make January any worse than it has to be, tbh?

YOU THERE! STOP what you’re doing immediately!

Well, er, actually only if what you’re doing is thinking about or (heaven forfend) actually writing down some New Years resolutions. Allow me to just stop you, right there – because New Years resolutions are bullshit.

After all of the egging on of excess during December, there’s something distinctly like cultural self-flagellation about January. The entreaties to indulge yourself, to have another pipe of Pringles or seven, get locked midweek and gorge on Celebrations (except the Bounty, we’re not animals) go out the window swiftly.

They’re replaced literally overnight by sponsored ads for Flyefit, fitness pull-outs tumbling ominously out of weekend newspapers and endless scrolling through Instagram yards of “meal prep” (the most heinous aggrandisement of what surely simply amounts to putting sad broccoli into equally sad lunchboxes).

Not only are we bombarded with messages that scold us for the festive enjoyment we were actively coddled into pursuing mere moments before, but we’re actually encouraged to draw up some unrealistic, punitive, personal open goals for ourselves too – these so-called New Years resolutions.

Well, how about no?

January is crap enough, quite frankly. It’s a month of waving off family and friends as they drift back to the four corners of the globe, coupled with the comedown of Dry January after oceans of relentless pints – not to mention evil credit card bills looming in an extra-long stretch, where payday seems like a beautiful, unreachable mirage. And the weather’s still bollocks.

The very last thing we need to do is dream up another stick to beat ourselves with, a highly personalised list of failures and deficits to stare at and let mock us for a month or so, before we inevitably admit defeat and feel ten times worse than we did in the first place.

Look, this is not to say I’m against the pursuit of self-improvement. In fact, quite the opposite. For several years now, I’ve made it my mission to avoid ruts and try new things. Making changes, small or radical, is actually really my bag. I think challenging yourself and setting goals is a good thing: I just don’t think doing it en masse at this lousy time of year is going to bear any fruit.

In 2018, I quit my job, went travelling, dyed my hair pink, went on my first same-sex date, ate things I never had before, got back into reading and went back to volunteering. None of these things were done from a list or to a schedule pre-ordained by my One Direction wall calendar. They were all done under the over-arching spirit of ‘trying new things’. That’s all.

I’ve tried to remain conscious of a few key questions, year-round: “Why am I doing what I’m doing?” and “Am I enjoying it?” I find that standing back to take stock fairly often – not just in grim, relentless January – is genuinely helpful, and instructive in a way that unrealistic shopping lists of resolutions often aren’t. Crucially, you’re not asking yourself negative things like: “Where can I improve?” or “What am I doing wrong?”

I’m going to say something grotesquely earnest now so avert your gaze – I think learning, trying new things and growing should be a life-long project, not merely a guiltily-compiled list of to-dos in January, which won’t spur us on but actually nag us backwards. So what? So fuck the resolutions that’ll make you feel unfairly inadequate.

Here’s to a messy, complicated and interesting 2019 – without a list, but with a purpose. 

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