No resolution revolution: take your pick from the bog-standard pledges

A window of opportunity opens before us: we are on the cusp of yet another new era. Only at the end of December do we decide to become better people, something that is reflected in a number of ways, from giving up smoking to losing weight to passing an exam. No-one gives a shit the rest of the year.

This time of the year is also the peak for mass consumerism, be it Christmas shopping with the justification of buying something for another, or storming the sales. New Year’s resolutions often seem to me to be just another shopping list, a medium for consumer choice under the guise of self-improvement.

The regular menu from which I am currently taking my pick this time around is as follows, and I’m sure many of you will recognise these familiar futile assertions:

Lose at least a stone. Being a product of these image-obsessed times, this has always been top of my list throughout adolescence and rather more vaguely as I have stumbled blind drunk through my university years. It is also quite possibly the most popular New Year’s resolution amongst a nation that is rapidly broadening the gulf between the obese and the size zero. But the fact of the matter is, the commitment to lose weight is far too generic to actually work. Setting a more specific goal within the realm of losing weight is far more realistic. Which brings me on to…

Go to the gym every day. And not, as Bridget Jones assures her readers, just to go to the café. Mere mortals can only dream of the results of a daily workout, and that is why we are mortals: whilst many of us could perhaps keep this up for a few weeks, anyone who is still going to the gym every day when summer comes around is probably one to be wary of.

Give up smoking. Needless to say this only applies to a select portion of society. The number of smokers in the UK has been decreasing steadily in the past few years, particularly since the smoking ban in 2007. It seems that if one is determined enough to stop smoking, the ways and means are out there. This is one of the only resolutions I can think of that actually tends to flourish.

Find a dream job. Yeah, like there’s not a recession.

Get a qualification. For a large proportion of students, this would mean graduating, usually with a 2:1 or even with a First. Fortunately, the majority of graduates attain a 2:1 grade. Which means that a lot of students don’t have anything to worry about. Perhaps this then is a bogus resolution that you’d achieve anyway, without having to officialise it in a New Year’s Resolution.

Stop/reduce drinking. Oh no.

Be a nicer person and think about others. Surely this should be a rooted characteristic of human nature rather than a vague aspiration with the coming of each January? I like to think of myself as a nice person anyway. Anyone whose New Year’s resolution is to “be a nicer person” is, in my book, deserving of suspicion and distrust. How do they usually treat other people?

So there you have it. The standard resolutions are either hopelessly unrealistic or embarrassing excuses for feeling like you’ve achieved something you would anyway. What’s the point? Recent studies have shown that less than a quarter of Britons will fail to meet their goals this year. In which case I think I’ll crack open another bottle of wine.


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