What’s your New Year’s resolution …?

A New Year begins – generally – with two things: a hangover and a list of resolutions (drinking less is usually somewhere at the top).  Why? Why do we promise ourselves we’re going to lose weight/quit smoking/be nicer to cats and relatives at the advent of every year? 

Well, the tradition goes all the way back to 153 BC, to Janus, mythical two-faced king of early Rome and head of the calendar (January, Janus? geddit?). With his two faces, Janus had the enviable ability to look back on past events and forward to the future which meant he was able to consider the things he’d do better in the New Year; he never, ever drank too much on New Year’s Eve because he could see what a state it was going to leave him in the next morning. New Year’s Eve continues to be a time of reflection, an opportunity to look back to the past, and forward to the coming year and consider what changes we might introduce to make our lives better places, ourselves better (thinner? nicer?) people. 

Amongst the most common resolutions are promises to spend more time with family, get fit, lose weight, stop smoking, get out of debt, watch less television and use the time to learn a foreign language. But fewer than 10% of people who are committed on 1st January to making their worlds cleaner, leaner and more friendly stick to their resolutions: amongst the resolutions you are most likely to have abandoned by 2nd January are promises to self to be nice to relatives (because you’re sick of the sight of them after spending Christmas with them); join a gym (can’t afford it now), tame the bulge (resolving to do this is apparently a sure fire way to pile the pounds on), save money (what’s the point: credit cards up to the max after buying gifts for relations you can no longer stand sight of) and spend less time in front of the television learning Mandarin/Portuguese/Kiswahili instead (no point now, can no longer afford holidays to foreign places anyway). 

My own New Year’s resolutions have – in the past – included most of the above. In addition I have promised myself I’d become a domestic goddess, shout less at my kids, learn to go grey gracefully in lieu of taking out a mortgage in order to pay for regular highlights, stop spending a fortune on wrinkle creams which – despite the hype – do not make me look ten years younger after four weeks use.  Writing ones goals down, I read, can lead to higher success rate. As can relating your resolutions to your friends and family. Writing them down is one thing. Admitting I sometimes scream at my children in manner of fish wife who, despite appearances, is not a natural sun-streaked blonde is quite another.

So make the resolutions I say. But don’t tell anyone. They’ll only smugly point your lack of staying power when – on 2nd January – you show signs of flagging. You haven’t failed if you tried. Besides, there’s always next year.

(Having said that, mine for 2008 include getting fit, learning French and trying to read at least one challenging novel at month rather than just Deborah Ross’s restaurant reviews at the back of the Spectator …)  

Happy, happy New Year!

One Response to “What’s your New Year’s resolution …?”

  1. Casdok Says:

    ok i wont tell anyone!!
    Happy new year!!

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