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Each and every year, sometimes in secret, sometimes in public, I make the usual New Year’s Resolutions.
Eat less, exercise more, work harder, drink less, write better.
I’ve even been known put dates and targets to these resolutions, occasionally calling them ‘intentions’ to make the whole Pinterest-worthy process more positive and appealing. Which works about as well as the first time you switch out your kid’s sugary sweet pink baby Calpol for the bitter six plus version and promise them the experience will be the same, but better.
I miss pink Calpol.
But it never is the same but better, the Calpol or your New Year’s intentions: both scenarios leave you with a bitter taste in your mouth and a slight feeling of being cheated. All-round disappointment and yuck, in a nutshell.
“Sometimes taking time is almost a shortcut”
– Haruki Murakami
Come the end of December 2018 I started on the usual process of making my list of New Year’s ~intentions~. Eat less, exercise more, work harder, drink less, write better.
Snooze. Why bother? I knew as well as you did (did you know?) that by the second week in January I’d be back to the beginning of December. Only it’d be worse because the feeling of being too big, too lazy and too boozy would be joined by a hefty dose of self-flagellation. Because when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions the only person who sets us up for failure is ourselves.
Not Making New Year’s Resolutions
And so I decided to be a little bit more positive about the whole thing as I looked back at 2018, thinking about the things I’d achieved in this year, the things I perhaps hadn’t even left 2017 intending to improve. I might not have read all the books I wanted to, I didn’t manage to become a morning person, I didn’t manage to eat less bread (why would I want to?).
But I did manage to love myself a little more, to feel more ‘me’.
In this life, the one where we’re constantly plagued by Social Media comparison, The Kardashians and Brexit, I find it’s really hard to know where to place yourself. Include a stint of motherhood into your cacophony of Instagram and nightmare-inducing politics and you won’t know your arse from your elbow, your biodegradable wet-wipe from your fair-trade underwear. In short, it’s tough being a person right now and you’ve got my respect if you made it to the end of 2018, let alone with a clear sense of identity. Which is why not making new year’s resolutions this year felt like the most natural thing in the world.
“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do”
Totally unconsciously I started the work of ME in 2018: I hired a life coach, I was kinder to myself, I chilled the hell out. I watched The Greatest Showman a lot. And it’s paid dividends; I finished the year feeling so much happier that, though what I’m doing right now might not be what I expected five years ago, it’s where I’m supposed to be.
I’ve had to come to terms with the fact the things I want out of life won’t come immediately – the long game is one I’ve never been good at playing, but by god is it necessary – and I’m now totally and consciously committed to the path I’m on. I won’t make my millions immediately, I won’t become an internationally acclaimed voice overnight (this takes hard slog you know, Hannah Horvath! Hard hard slog!), but I am most definitely making baby steps on my journey while keeping my two little people alive and happy.
And by god, if that’s not an achievement I don’t know what is.
This year I’m not pledging to eat less, exercise more, work harder, drink less, write better. I’m just pledging to love myself and to tell my story with total integrity and honesty, which is why I started 2019 getting half-naked on Instagram.
Why not, eh?
The good stuff, I’m sure, will follow the nakedness. It always does.
Happy New Year! I’d love to know if you’re not making new year’s resolutions, too.