Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The Big Fat Metaphorical Leaf

Reader, it is 2012. I can't help the twinge of disappointment; I thought we'd all be driving flying cars by now, living with androids or wearing self-lacing trainers. (Obviously I learned a lot about the future from Steven Spielberg, but that is what happens when you're born in the 1980s.)

Regardless of my shattered illusions, it's still a brand new year. There is something about this new phase on the cosmic chart that encourages us to wipe away the webs and shake out the dust. It's a yearly ritual full of hope for improvement, achievement and potential. It's a chance to start afresh, turn over a new leaf; make resolutions.

But I've never been one for resolutions. Never. I still remember the first time I learned about them during an assembly at primary school. Lines of children sitting crossed legged on the cold hard floor, we stared intently, puzzled, as our Headteacher asked us what we going to do differently that year; what did we want to change about ourselves? I was five. I didn't know myself. I only knew my love for playing  Barbie and watching Button Moon. 

Twenty-two years later, not much has changed. Barbie rests in a dust covered box in the loft and Button Moon lost its allure and magic long ago. And though I know more about myself now, making a New Year's resolution to change something makes me feel uncomfortable. It's not that I don't have things that could warrant a change; it's the fact that it only seems normal to do it at the start of the year. 

It still surprises me that an arbitrary date on the calendar can hold so much influence over the way we approach self-improvement. The strength and power to evolve is a source we carry at all times and we can tap into its supply whenever we choose. If you want to stop smoking, do it now. If you want to lose weight, don't start tomorrow. 

I think where people fail is that they see the New Year as this pinnacle thing that has the power to tackle all their bad habits and behaviours at once. But human nature is such that motivation fades and willpower falters and at some point down the line, come February or March, resolutions can (and will) be broken. After such focus and determination and hope, the failure only serves to heighten our human frailties and make us feel worse. Do we really need that feeling

But if we wipe away the webs and shake out the dust each day, it makes doing the task the following day a little easier to accomplish until, eventually, it becomes a habit. A good one. Filling our days and months, our whole lives, with little goals and commitments and changes, makes them easier to achieve and far more sustainable. Think of it as a new New Year's resolution, if you will: Don't make any. An amazingly novel idea, don't you think reader?

What say you?