We’re now well into the Western New Year and perhaps I’m a little late to the party. Well, no problem, I don’t do parties and neither should you. Parties are for children and clowns, or politicians and celebrities. You and me? For my part, I’m way happier sitting with my wife by my side, slurping a beer and munching crisps while watching a re-run of Columbo at 480p on an ultra-HD 55” TV. The stark contrast of technology and 70’s cinematography reminds me I’m alive. Now, that’s a party.
But what about those resolutions, I hear you cry. Just like parties, resolutions are beholden to certain groups: politicians (again, they have all the fun, especially dictators; they love a resolution), special committees, and, well, I’m not sure who else. Maybe the UN. Or the WHO—you know, huge global entities that need to make resolutions. And this is a good place to ask: are you a huge global entity? Sure, it’s a hell of a moniker to insult an overweight person but no—you’re not a global entity. Nor should you use that term as I just suggested. This is a nice place; it’s not suited to bad thoughts.
The resolutions you’re thinking of might be things such as:
- I promise not to eat chocolate more than three nights a week, or
- I’ll abstain from alcohol for one month, or
- I will join the gym, or
- I’ll refrain from posting mentally deranged conspiracy theories on social media
Well, apart from the last one, I have helpful advice on the general notion of resolutions. If the last point is on your agenda, I’d suggest you book yourself into a secure padded room and eat the key; everybody is out to get you and you’re very much safer inside—away from the rest of the world.
So, what is a resolution? Ready? Ready? Look up, here comes the penny drop. A resolution is an abstraction of something somebody wants you to become involved with. A resolution, at least the concept of it, is a sales tool to make you briefly alter your life trajectory by buying into somebody else’s lifestyle scam. Instantly, you can derail my cynicism by pointing out that eating or drinking less costs nothing—in fact, it will save you money. Correct. But, and there’s always a bigger but at this time of year, people replace their vices with something else. Raise your hand if own a Nutribullet, or some form of Ninja inspired fruit pulper. Admit it. Don’t be afraid. As for point three—joining a gym—that definitely has a cost, though, at this time of year there are an abundance of offers. Why? Because they’re zeroing in on the monetary benefit of resolutions.
Are all resolutions mired in profit? No, of course not. If your resolution involves helping others without fleecing them, then your New Year change of course is noble. Taking stock of how messed up our planet has become and wishing to change it would also be a worthwhile thing to do. Go clean your local beach by picking up the plastic and associated mess so that you can then can bury it in a greenfield site in the countryside. Ouch, that was nasty of me but my cynicism runs deep. If you really want to help the planet, insist on using cardboard or other non-plastics—and still go clean the beach or river. Maybe dump all of it in the middle of a concrete metropolis. Save the green and lush countryside and forests by destroying our cities instead. This is too dark; I’ll get back to the fitness angle.
Why are fitness resolutions bad? Intrinsically, they’re not. But what so few people realise is that (just like Mothering Sunday), it’s all about making you spend money elsewhere in time. Your desire to change your behaviour shouldn’t cost you money. If it does, you’re a puppet dangling under the influence of somebody else’s hand. That can seem an unfair judgement but it’s all about timing. Why make a resolution now? Why does it take a period of relaxation and excess to make you want to change behaviour? Simple—it’s guilt. And by buying into the resolution fad at this time of year, you’re doing nothing more than following a well-worn path of socially manipulated consumerism.
Don’t do it. Take stock of your life and look beyond the past four weeks. I’ve seen the clear trends over 26 ½ years. Every single January, without fail, I see the faces of people I see for one-quarter of the year. People who return to the gym with religious zeal in January, who become more moderate in February, and then by March they’re really nothing more than whispers of people I know who I’ll see again the following January. And every year, they get larger. And greyer. It doesn’t have to be like this. You don’t need an abstracted moment in time to make decisions about where your life should be heading.
Then, what is a real resolution? Bad news—it’s nothing but another Unicorn of whatever industry is taking advantage of your current slump. There are no real resolutions. To resolve is to make an attempt to overcome a problem, or to change an attribute that requires to be ‘solved’. And it doesn’t require a window in time to make that promise to oneself—you can do it in any of twelve months of the year. A resolution is nothing but a decision to alter an outcome, or to change a metaphorical direction in life. People will say a resolution is a promise to oneself, a contract, to secure something better. Those are nothing but glorified words for something so simple as a decision. After all, the notion that a resolution holds any permanence through promise is squashed by the reality that so many fail. And if you believe your resolution is special and it fails to deliver you to happiness, then what of the feelings of failure? It is better to say no to resolutions and instead take stock of your life and how you wish it to be.
Think of what can be done to improve what you are, where you are. Put on the old thinking-hat and consider if there are realistic ways to better your situation. Does it need to involve money or can it be done through sheer will and determination? Hint—if it’s not realistic, set it aside for now. You can play with that toy later. As an example, consider my dream. I want to be a successful and published author. My current submission is failing to gain any interest from agents; what can I say, they don’t get me. But my mini-dream is easy to fulfil, I can self-publish, and I know there is an audience out there, so in that small way I will be one step closer to my dream. My super-dream is to become comfortable financially through writing alone—to be able to quit my day job. For now, that is the toy I can’t play with. But this is the reality of change; it is better to take baby-steps to make something happen and to plan for it beyond the fiction of New Year. Just ask yourself: what do I need to do to be where I want to be? And then find the very smallest thing you can do to start that journey. You don’t need a fancy resolution for that—you just need a plan, even a simple one. So go, start planning. But remember, keep it real. Stay away from those pesky Unicorns.