It’s the date when most of us are likely to give up our New Year resolutions.
You know, the ones we made barely a fortnight ago, in a haze of post Quality Street regret, when our veins were running with Minger cheese and we had sofa sores from binge watching The Traitors a few weeks later than everyone else.
After all that debauchery and its accompanying self disgust, the new calendar always signals a second chance. I ported last year’s regrets, grudges and disappointments at Hogmanay 2022, as I nibbled my black bun before going to bed at 10pm.
However, when it comes to good intentions, my resolve tends to slacken halfway through this drudgery of a month.
The Romans are to blame for creating New Year’s resolutions. It’s not the best of their inventions, which also include concrete, newspapers, and, presumably, blinds, noses, the Audrey Hepburn film and candles.
Along with positive pledges, they’d promise allegiance to the emperor and knock out a few sacrifices to keep things ticking along nicely.
They also named January after the God, Janus, who has two faces, like a Tory politician or Dr Doolittle’s Pushmi Pullyu.
One of these looks forward, the other back. That suits such a contradictory month. Although there’s plenty of optimism and hope, you’ll also encounter the same old dead ends and wonder if you might have developed SAD.
As the days pass, many of us quietly shelve plans to get ultra-marathon fit, quit vaping, cast off the cellulite and wrinkles, be greener, less blue, change jobs, purchase a new identity or tackle Veganuary or Dry January.
If you’re still persevering with any of that, and think you might make it past next Friday, then, well done, you’re in the minority.
The problem is that many of us set our expectations too high, when it comes to manageable change.
These are the same people who aspired to write a book during lockdown. Nobody actually did it.
I’ve had a lot of ambitious resolutions over the years.
To follow my dreams and pursue happiness. Pah. That kind of pressure only increases my sense of life paralysis. Even the medium-sized changes seem difficult. Last year, I promised myself I’d get my hair cut and coloured regularly, and here I sit, with Terry Wogan-style grey puffy roots and a raggle-taggle pompadour that resembles a Davy Crockett hat.
Thankfully, the current trend involves making tiny tweaks that are possible to achieve.
Those of us who created micro or nano resolutions to mark the advent of 2023 might even make them last until February and beyond. Hooray for low expectations. If I can see the below 10 through to 2024, they won’t be able to call me a quitter.
1 Spend a bit longer thinking about column ideas, rather than just going for the first desperate and last minute thing you can think of, like a daft piece on International Quitters Day, Elf on the Shelf or wanting to move back to your childhood home. Everyone is laughing at you. This isn’t proper journalism.
2 I’m phasing out the x at the end of text messages and emails. I’m a big girl now. Also, I’ll stop craving the approbation of receiving them. No kisses here, thank you, especially not a Glasgow one. Not a Hershey’s either, they’re revolting.
3 Speaking of which, I don’t always have to eat a sweet thing after a savoury. All food does not require a sugary punctuation mark. I am slowly phasing out my post-lunch Werther’s Original, tablet chunk or Mint Club. I still have some rejected toffee penny Quality Streets left over from the holidays, so they will be phased out slowly. I don’t want to contribute to food waste.
4 Houseplants. Remember that you have them. Speak to them, water them, pick up the discarded leaves from the floor, give them a wee dram of Baby Bio on Burns Night. They mostly forgive you for the gross neglect and your gloomy window sills. This will not become a Triffids situation. Different rules apply to the cactus. It’s angry and seeks revenge. Human sacrifice, preferably.
5 Don’t ask other people what your resolutions should be. My sister recruited her 11-year-old daughter for some advice on that subject, and she was earnestly told that she should try not to have a resting b***ch face.
6 Don’t bother with lace-up shoes. Since I started working from home, I’ve become extremely lazy about going out for a brisk walk at lunchtime. It’s easier to motivate yourself if you only have to slip your boots on, rather than hooking up your hikers. Down with laces. 2023 is the year of Velcro. I might even consider Crocs in the summer.
7 Use a proper bookmark. Turning down the edge of a page is seen as vandalism in some literary quarters. Also, if you forget to unfold it, there becomes a shelter’s worth of dog ears and confusion ensues. Socks don’t count as bookmarks.
8 Write things down. I wouldn’t go as far as keeping a diary or maintaining a to-do list, as that’s not micro or nano enough, but just put that mnemonic word in your head down onto paper. Otherwise, it will disappear quickly and forever, like 2022 did. Sorry, I can’t remember what resolutions nine and ten were. I hope you can forgive me. xx