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Monday, 6 January 2014


It's the New Year and everyone's come down with a serious case of the Resolutions. Me? I say nuts to that. Why? Because what's the point. I don't mean that in an existential way, but rather, a more literal sense. What IS the point? People say things like "New Year, New You!" and "THIS will be my year!" and associated self-motivating disclaimers such as "Last year wasn't so great, but this is a fresh start!".

I don't want to know where he's putting those thumbs
Firstly, it's not a fresh start. Life doesn't magically reset at 12am on January the 1st. It continues on, as interminable as always. Any choices you made before the end of the year will still have consequences, as will your actions. I'm not down on resolutions, because I'm sure there are many people who stick to them. But you shouldn't use the new year as an excuse to improve your life; you can use any day in any month to do that.

We all put things off. "I'll start my diet after this pie!" or "No more cigarettes from Monday!". That's fine. But don't keep delaying it. I firmly believe everyone is stronger than they think they are. Maybe an act, or continued acts, of weakness have served to undermine their self-belief. That's also fine. What isn't, is letting that sort of thing continue. It takes real courage to face whatever's causing all this and put a stop to it.

Yeah I know, I'm mouthing off. When you're embroiled in a difficult situation it can be extremely difficult to see a way out. I get that. Good grief, do I.  But this is where the irrefutable flow of time comes into play. Life goes on, to be cold and distant about it. The future is not yet written, so in that regard everyone still has a chance to make it what they want. I never used to plan ahead because, to be frank, I've always been a little defeatist and I half-expect things to fail.

Well no, that's not strictly true. I'm more of a pessimistic optimist. I hope for the best, but expect the worst. That way, I can't be disappointed or surprised when things go tits up. I've always been scared of losing momentum, even when it's readily apparent I'm moving like a runaway train. Or at least, I was like this.

Ok, so I still am a bit. Old habits die hard. There's a Bruce Willis versus a nun joke in there somewhere. But mainly, I'm now not only happy to make plans for the future, but I (perhaps pathologically) refuse to accept they'll fail. Once again, this isn't entirely true. Instead, I now more actively consider the worst possible outcome, but without concentrating on it. I consider what it might be, then carry on. Onwards and upwards!

And, in essence, this is why I am not going to bother with a, or any, resolutions this year. Because I now know what I want, and how to get it. I don't need to promise myself that I'll do certain things, because I know I'm going to do them. I'm also not going to set myself daft targets, because I'd rather spend that energy on the aforementioned things I'm definitely going to do. nb. I'm not talking about dreams and aspirations here: we all need those, just temper them with reality so as to stand a better chance of attaining them. My goals are pretty mundane, really, and it boils down to two words that, until recently, sent a shiver of fear down my spine:

Settle down.

Those words have always conjured visions of working in an office, having two kids (a boy and a girl) and settling for a partner who's perfectly adequate. Of becoming stagnant. 

Not any more, buddy! I now read it as meaning to become comfortable and content. Not as in 'stuck in a rut' but 'happy and in a place I want to be'. Maybe this is what maturity feels like. Maybe 24 year old me would balk at all this and go "Oh god, you've given up!". Up yours, young me! Like most hippies become middle management, the aimless youth becomes a guided missile. Focus and planning develop from the malaise of failed or unmet expectations. Why did I do wrong? How can I improve myself? are questions that're finally asked. Or counterpoint arguments, such as Why did that go wrong? How can I learn from this? are suitably considered.

So that's that. Nothing wrong with resolutions, in theory. Plus, you can always play safe and make ones relating to things you can't possibly fail at (like 'remember to breathe'). But if you feel like you need a change, or can in some way improve your life, or have finally realised what you want, then take it. Do everything you can to achieve it. I'm sure you'll do it, because I can, and I had absolutely no focus for years. And most importantly, do it NOW, or soon. Not next year.

- excerpt from my best-selling self-help book 'Don't Murder Anyone (If You Can Help It)'

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