When you think about it, aren’t all New Year’s resolutions a bit weird really? The concept of focusing on one night out of 365 in the year to make yourself a promise of change seems a little funny to me.
As a trained life coach, I know that people make themselves promises all the time. The ones that stick are the ones that are made when we reach a tipping point in our lives. A point where it is too painful to go on as we have been.
Human beings are creatures of habit. Routine and repetition is the very basis of learning. So if change is something a little unnatural that we have to work at, surely basing a change on a traditional point in the year to make one, is doomed to fail?
But with that said, I do still think about resolutions and goal setting at this time of year. As a creature of habit, after 35 years on earth I have formed the habit of setting them. And I have heard of some weird and wonderful ones along the way too.
Category 1 – the ‘never agains’
I am never going to drink alcohol again!
This is what she said to me as I held her hair back while she vomited into her handbag. Yes, her handbag! But of course she did drink again, and it was not the last time somebody would hold her hair back for her. A more realistic statement would have been, “I am never going to use this handbag again!”
At any other time of the year we might be more realistic and choose an attainable goal, such as drinking in moderation. It is something of a mystery to me that, at the five to midnight on the last day of the year, we choose goals that are not only unrealistic, but also incompatible with how we live our lives.
I am never going to date again!
I am moving to the desert to become a nomad.
Forget men, I am adopting 30 cats.
I will never eat donuts again; I am going to get skinny.
Or my favorite one, overheard in a London pub last year, “I am 100% vegan from tomorrow!”
I thought, “with a hangover? Good luck!”
There was just one year where I made a ‘never again’ resolution that I actually stuck to. But the truth of the matter was that I had made my mind up about my resolution months ago when the time was right for me, because I had reached a tipping point in my life.
My husband at the time asked what my resolution was, just shortly after midnight on New Year’s Eve, 2008. I told him that my resolution was to not take anymore of his attitude, and that he could like it or lump it… or words to that effect.
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I actually stuck to this one, and a few months later we were separated. But I do not really consider it a New Year’s resolution. I think I had only vocalized my intention to my then-husband at I was drunk enough to feel braver than usual.
And I think often it is the case for many of us. Spending a period of quiet reflection over the holiday season, thinking about the end of another year, and then drinking until we loose our inhibitions – hmm, maybe there is a little magic to the New Year after all? The magic of honesty!
If we spend all year rushing around and not being present with our feelings, perhaps the above factors combine to give us a little existential clarity? And of course, the alcohol suppresses our need to suppress our feelings.
Category 2 – the everyday superheroes
While we are talking about existential clarity, how about those of us who dream of saving the world and going down in the history books?
For these people, New Year’s Eve is our moment to stand on our soapbox and proudly declare what amazing feat we will accomplish in the next year.
I am going to finally write a book.
I am quitting my job to save the whales.
I am applying to the space program!
I must admit I have fallen foul of this one too. It is worse yet if your friends remember your announcement and hold you accountable.
Two years ago I found myself skidding down the side of the Royal London Hospital on a rope, abseiling for charity, because I had resolved to cure my fear of heights.
I think this year I will resolve to stop announcing my ideas when I have had too much to drink. Have you ever set a New Year’s resolution that you have kept? And what is the weirdest one you have ever heard? I would love to hear yours, so please do comment below.