I am pleased to report that the world seems to have come to its senses and realised that humans are not wind up toys. Apparently we do not run down at the end of one year and magically wind up with brand new vigour, zero emotional baggage and a whole new backpack of motivation one day later. Who knew? All I can say to this revelation is a deep and heartfelt: HALLELUJAH! The pressure is finally off!
If you haven’t noticed, 2019 has seen the rise of the anti-New Year’s resolution. Social media is all ‘new year, SAME you’ hashtags and books spew a message of appreciating the ‘old you’ (like that’s even a thing – let’s call this the REAL you) and not putting pressure on ourselves to become something (robots) which we quite clearly are not.
I quite enjoyed this Guardian article by Oliver Burkeman discussing what he calls the ‘present you’ and why we can’t trust the ‘old you’ to invent the ‘new you,’ which when you take a breath and think about, makes perfect sense. Mr Burkeman recommends we take the expectations down a notch and focus on something more manageable. A week for example. Seven days. 168 hours. A mere spec on the timescale horizon. That feels refreshingly doable if you ask me.
A week disappears before you know it’s even arrived. And you don’t need to become the kind of person who mediates or runs or goes to art galleries because that fits in with the cotton candy version you think you want to be. You can just look at your week and make some snap decisions – Oh I’m free to go to a gallery this weekend! Oh it’s sunny today let me go for a run. I have the energy today, let me do some food prep or clear out the spare room. Before you know it the week has filled up and you are on top of things. And if not then you can always start afresh next week and forget the week that was.
Of course setting long term goals and investments in your career/family life/friends/hobbies is important but for someone who feels anxiety-ridden pressure to commit to any change they have set up for themselves this takes the edge off the internal guilt laden monologue.
Coincidentally this also satisfies the ‘be present’ philosophy all the wellness gurus keep harping on about. Score! So in the spirit of being in the moment and instead of making a big song and dance about my resolutions and writing them in yet another shiny new diary I bought for £24 at Oliver Bonas and never wrote in, I’m quietly taking life 7 days at a time.
Instead of making a big song and dance about my resolutions and writing them in yet another shiny new diary bought for £24 at Oliver Bonas, I’m quietly taking life 7 days at a time.
Case and point I completely overindulged in beverages of the alcoholic nature over the Christmas period. It was bad. The liver struggled. It got to the point that I actually couldn’t remember the last day I had gone without a drink. Not in the desperate alcoholic sense but more because I was on holiday and enjoying myself so the reasoning was – well why not? My poor body had multiple reasons why not. I ran out of milk thistle tablets, which I take religiously when I know I’m going to be punching my liver over an extended period. And waking up with a headache every morning started to get old. So I just decided to stop drinking until I…felt like drinking again. No mention of dry January or setting up a whatsapp support group with all my friends to discuss my decision. I just made a hype-free, adult choice to give my body a break. A week of this has turned into two and now I’m kind of thinking I might as well do dry January, there’s just two weeks left. And to be perfectly honest? I strangely don’t miss it at all.
The same thing has happened with my desire to read more books in 2019. I didn’t write up a list of all the books I needed to read to be an intellectually stimulated human being. I also didn’t go out on a book buying binge. I just picked up a book that had been lying forgotten on my bookshelf from my last book buying binge and before I knew it I had finished it and moved on to another and then another. So far I’ve read three books this month and am now happily on my fourth. I think I might keep this up. Not as a shiny new person but rather as the same person rediscovering the joy of doing something she has always loved but not made time for.
If I get busy and the volume of reading or enjoyment wanes then I move on without the guilt of another failed New Year’s resolution, because life should be as simple as turning a page. There is no old, no new, no pressure, no Instagram fueled, gadget ridden perfection. There is just a desire to make a change, no matter how small. Give it a try, who knows, it might just keep ticking over and over, week by week.
Check out my January book list here >
image credits: the dog eared page / pinterest / fashion editorials /