There’s a whole lot of vexation in our popular culture about New Years’ Resolution and I don’t really get it, to be honest. People do New Years’ Resolutions if they want to, and don’t if they don’t. That’s meant both ways: if you want to make resolutions, and if you want to achieve them.
Hypothetically I can imagine a situation where you really, really want to do something in the new year and just can’t. Say, you wanted to spend a half hour every day free-writing short stories because you loved writing fiction, but then you got into law school and even read your civil procedure textbooks in the shower because there just wasn’t any darn time.
But we tend to remember that kind of story because it’s rare and uncommonly distressing. The truth is I have little knowledge whereof I speak; I’ve only made a new years’ resolution once. Most of my teenage life I cracked idiotic meta-jokes about how “I resolve not to make any resolutions,” and family members laughed weakly because they’re family and it’s in their contract to laugh weakly, but really I was just being tedious. Then I just pretended the whole resolutions thing didn’t exist.
Then, on 1 January 2010, I actually resolved something, for the first time ever. It was the classic New Years’ Resolution, to lose some weight. There was a fixed goal, 25 pounds by 1 January 2011 and 10 more pounds by 2012. There was a plan, namely stopping eating so many of the gosh-darned cookies and cinnamon rolls that Rice kept serving me and I kept lodging in my face.
And it worked. Gradually four cookies a day (told you it was a problem.) became four a week, then one or two; then came graduation and healthy, home-cooked meals for a summer; then came London and total starvation. Just kidding. Lots of walking, actually, and help from unexpected quarters. For instance, over the last two weeks I’ve suddenly developed a major fondness for drinking water after spending years thinking water was boring and tasted funny and was infinitely less palatable than a good glass of juice.
In the wake of actually hitting the first weight loss goal, I’ve been thinking about doing another resolution, and have decided against it. You can’t just do a New Years’ resolution because you want to do one, or even because you think you’re good at it (and I have no illusions). You have to really want it. It’s something to be a daily goal and thought process, not a “wouldn’t-it-be-nice.” Also, as it’s currently the Christmas season, roughly one-third of my calorie intake is chocolate. Losing weight is definitely on hold. After all, there’s a giant bar of Ghanaian fair trade milk chocolate to finish, and that box of Milka “mini” chocolate bars in four different varieties. Luckily the Lindt truffles ran out this afternoon…
So yeah. Pay New Years’ resolutions no heed. You can make resolutions any time of the year, without artificial Gregorian motivations. Now’s the time for eating chocolate. Later, when I actually step on my flatmate’s scale, I’ll get my motivation back.