At present it is virtually impossible to turn on the TV or radio or meander through the twitterverse without hearing those three ominous words; 'New Years Resolution'. Be it the shock of an alien date on the calendar, a reaction to the excess fest of Christmas or simply the expectations of modern culture that inspire the desire to publicly declare good intentions, in nine out of ten cases failure will be inevitable. Waking on January 1st with the headache from hell and somewhat hazy memories of the previous night's antics it can seem like a great idea to commit to giving up the demon drink. Grand plans are drawn up whereby those nights previously passed down the boozer will now be spent at an eye wateringly expensive gym where you will force your ill-equipped body to participate in activity well behind its physical capabilities. Such self flagellation can be masochistically pleasurable for a while, but a couple of weeks down the line the lure of a new glass of red whilst curled up on the sofa will outweigh the questionable appeal of Boxercise and continued sobriety.
Setting and sharing personal goals can certainly be a worthwhile exercise, articulating your intentions to others potentially leading to support which will help you realise dreams that may never have been achieved if they’d remained confined to the back of the mind. The best intended resolutions can however also lead to disappointment; grand plans which never come to fruition resulting in a sense of failure which drags you down rather than propelling you to make the most out of life. In 2013 I'll turn 30 and at present it looks highly unlikely that by then I'll have achieved any of the things that I'd always imagined myself to have ticked off before I entered my fourth decade. What I've recently come to realise however, the knowledge of which would have saved the younger me a great deal of agony, is that it really doesn't matter. Sh*t happens – deal with it. Life is littered with highs and lows, and whilst the best laid plans may go awry sometimes the most rewarding experiences are those which are completely unexpected. Even the hardest times can, in retrospect, serve to strengthen us as individuals – if every life consisted purely of one perfectly choreographed rite of passage after another then the world would surely be a far duller place; our libraries empty, radios silent, tv screens blank.
So as you wave goodbye to 2011, don’t waste valuable hours trying to compose a mental script of the year ahead. If you want to quit smoking, lose weight or learn a foreign language by all means make the effort, but treat it as a continually evolving day by day challenge rather than making some goal plucked out of thin air the be all and end all without which the year will be doomed. Throughout our education and careers we are all subject to more than enough targets and performance evaluation – why make your personal life just another benchmarking exercise? Take pride in being you, and going forward see every day as worthy of celebration (champagne of course optional).