Time for a delightfully positive(ish) rant. ● I want to talk about something that's absolutely doing my head in at the moment: new year's resolutions. I am all up for a positive attitude entering a fresh new year, an opportunity to grow our minds, try something new... basically, live life. What I'm not up for though is the generous levels of predictable, boring, and farcical mentality to goal-setting. Hello 2018.
For the first time, this year I wanted to make some proper goals. Like real ones, not my past fake ones. This is funny because I actually don't like goals - see previous post about turning 30 revelations - but I wanted to approach it differently, to see if I could actually handle "having proper goals" this year.
Being a keen 'Grammer, I stumbled on two ideas (because life is dictated by the Gram now):
💡 1. visualisation: what you see when you're sat looking back at the year just gone. // I loved this idea so off I went, racking my brain for three achievements I'd be happy looking back on by the end of 2018 (three's enough to focus on in a year I reckon, not counting the amount of delicious food I'll be eating on top of these) - more on this later.
👣 2. step-by-step: setting a step-goal for a longer-term aim. // This idea scared me a lot more than the first so I tried not to think about it too much, but actually it ended up working out nicely - hold that thought.
But before all the positivity and looking forward and such, I just want to get a few thoughts out so I can stop banging my head against a rock, ya know?
Enter... the resilient resolutions
👐 Define resolution. ● Let's have a look in the Oxford English dictionary of dreams.
1. A firm decision to do or not to do something. "she kept her resolution not to see Anne anymore"
2. The quality of being determined or resolute. "he handled the last actions of the war with resolution"
3. The action of solving a problem or contentious matter. "the peaceful resolution of all disputes"
There are three further definitions which delve into science and abstract topics so I'll leave it at three so we can all just happily digest the above.
👀 Over the first 18 days of 2018, I admit that I have not witnessed many of these.
The usual culprits include, but are not exhaustive to:
- 🍎 Eat healthy. // insert #veganuary the trendiest term I have heard bounding around 2018 so far, close in popularity to #smashedavocadoontoast // this resolution makes me laugh because the new year always gets the majority of us to start-a-fresh with our relationship with food. NO SUGAR. MORE FRUIT AND VEG. LESS MEAT. PLANT-BASED 4 LIFE. I'm not going to say the D-word because it's just offensive to my brain. Basic translation: starve yourself from food you like eating and make food your enemy but associating it with a resolute decision to BE HEALTHY(IER). Don't get me wrong, I am 100% rooting for everyone on this planet to be healthier - get sufficient nutrition, a balanced diet, and have a more conscious relationship with our food. However, what I'm not here for is torturing ourselves for a month to then go back to our "old habits". What's the point? Exactly, there is no point. If you want to be healthy, make it a conscious lifestyle decision - it'll take time, like anything worthwhile, but it'll be worth it. The best two advice I've always followed are: eat naturally occurring foods (i.e. not processed) and identify the healthy foods you do like, because you'll naturally eat more of it and most importantly won't have a grudge against it. This coming from the girl who is starting the year as she means to go on - with a pack of fruit pastilles a day.
- 🍻 Drink less (or stop altogether). // insert #dryjanuary aka what feels like the hardest and longest month for most Brits. // this resolution makes me laugh because it's no secret that us Brits love a pint or two, a little chinwag down the pub, or downing a bottle of Apple Sourz (yeah I said it, we've all been there). There is a lot of general chat around alcohol in our day-to-day lives, it's probably second to chatting about the weather in British culture. A classic conversation: "how was your weekend?" "went hard on saturday, spent all sunday hanging hard" "where did you go?" "well... [insert venue of choice and then a list of all the different types and number of drinks consumed]". So, it's no surprise really that deciding to implement a zero-alcohol-into-oneself goal in January is a popular choice for many resolutioners. Helped by the fact that everyone else is doing it so you have the comfort of no-pressure-to-drink, and pubs suddenly serving up copious variations of "alcohol-free beer". But the problem is, that beer just tastes so good doesn't it? Enter day 8 (or earlier) of January and WOOPS HAHAHAHA DRY JANUARY IS OVER. Followed by my second round of LOLs: why does everyone think it's funny that they've made an active decision to improve their health by not drinking and couldn't even last 31 days? Yet, when drunk, they can hold their bursting bladders from da club to da kebab shop slash McDonalds to get on a one hour train journey home to the burbs of London-town. Let me tell you, I am beyond baffled by this one, yet still highly amused.
- 🏃 Exercise more. // insert #bikinisummerbodypartone aka the phase before the two weeks of starvation prior to our once-a-year summerrr holidayyy. // this resolution makes me laugh because amongst the top three generic choices of a resolutioner, it seems this is by far the most challenging and can be observed for approx. between 6 hours to 1 week. The initial enthusiasm is phenomenal, almost contagious - I have never seen so many people determined as hell to GET FIT, GET ACTIVE, GET MOVING. I bet Fitbit sales go through the roof in the January sales (fact to be confirmed via some actual data analysis), soon after to be ditched in the deep, dark cracks of the sofa, yearning to be found again on the 1st January 2019. I was laughing the other day with a pal about how hard it had been to get a session in with the PT at our work gym in the first two weeks of January because the world and his dog seemed to want to exercise. Half way through week two, the gym was quiet again and normality ensued. Really similar to eating, our relationship with getting active needs to change - the best advice I've got so far was to identify something active that I actually enjoyed (hello dance), because you'll naturally want to do more of it and exercise then becomes something you enjoy rather than resent.
😳 This does leave me to wonder why on earth we kick-off these goals so enthusiastically to then be left instantly defeated almost having never really started. Either we weren't that invested in the first place, or we just love disappointing ourselves to set the mood right for a new year. Because as that popular phrase goes: the only way is up, right? Wrong, the mental exhaustion I've just endured thinking through those super generic goals makes me kind of sad.
Why? Well, take that glorious box containing our failure to be resolute, and add a constant barrage of messages in your face about being a "better you" or "new you". What if I'm happy with me as I am, just continuing to #life like I was at the end of the last year? It scares me the level to which all sorts of businesses start pushing messages of pressure to change and more goal setting down our throats in one of the greyest months of the year - when our budgets are tight, getting back into the daily grind is tough as nails, and the glitter and giggles of Christmas fun has long faded into the distance. I don't have the energy to start ranting about the plethora of ridiculous products released in January over the years so that we can spend our hard-earned cash on yet more products that look exactly the same but are 0.0001% different and of course healthier for us, naturally. Whatever sells I guess.
📌 Some of my favourite "new year" launches include:
- Non-alcoholic beer. // Just drink water, or forget #dryjanuary and drink the beer your belly clearly craves.
- Low-carb bread. // Just don't eat bread, or eat bread because it's made up of delicious, delicious carbs.
- Vegan "ham" and "chicken" slices. // Just eat fruit and veg, or just stop dreaming of meat-slices, you are after all vegan.
Now take 2 ● At this point, definition no.1 has shown that we are not determined or resolute one bit - most of us will set a bunch of generic goals and then give up by the second week, it's only human. Plus it is Grey January, so I forgive us for the downer.
Then take 3 ● It's time to ask ourselves: have we solved a problem or contentious matter? I don't know about you, but aside from looking at New Year Resolutions in a new way (visualisation and step-by-step) I think we still have a long way to go. If anyone has solved the resolutioner's conundrum, please do write in because I would be fascinated to hear your point of view.
🙅 Having said all of that, don't trust me - I am not a nutritionist, or a doctor, or a personal trainer. However, I do believe in logic and laughter. And logic says "Eat Healthy. Drink Less. Exercise More." are not just for January, they are for life (if you want them to be of course). So whatever you've decided this year will be for you, at least enjoy the LOLs.
And on that note, here are mine - past and present.
✖ Gone are the days of:
- 💅 paint my nails in intricate detail every week. // the pressure was unreal once everyone around me started to "request" designs - I got tired, uninspired, and nail varnish fumed up to the eyeballs.
- 📚 read a book a month. // the reality is, i read very, very, very slowly and I also have the attention span of a goldfish... so this was never going to be the one. However, audiobooks - I am totally down for.
- 🍇 eat non-packaged, locally sourced, organic foods. // not only was this beyond ambitious, it also cost an arm and a leg by the third week of January when my budget was already tight, so that never lasted. I do still try to shop with my local greengrocer though as much as I can - purely because the level of packaging and quantity of goods you have to buy in my local Tesco Express is ridiculous. If I just need one potato, two leeks, a pear, two lemons and a stick of ginger - then the greengrocer is my best friend. Fresh produce, no packaging and significantly reduced food waste.
✔ Dear 2018. I want you to be the year of mucho laughter. But more specifically:
- 💃 i want to keep dancing. // I was so happy with my progress, ability to commit, and becoming pals with a glorious bunch of talented fellow dance enthusiasts last year that this year all I ask of myself is to keep at it - it's definitely my happy place.
- 🛁 i want to give myself more breaks. // I had about 4-5 years in a row where I would have no holidays all year so that I could save up 4 to 5 weeks of annual leave from work to be able to go back to Madagascar - which got close to breaking me (mentally, financially and professionally). This year, I am not allowed to go a whole 11 months with no proper breaks. But I am allowed all of the bubble baths.
- 📝 i want to write again, and a lot more. // It just makes sense to me - I enjoy it, it clears my head, it gets me to voice my opinions more, and at the very least my pops-chops enjoys reading my blog posts so... here's to more of that.
🙆 See y'all soon!