First of all welcome to my new blog! Here I’m hoping to share writing tips, books I love, recipes, and random musings including ways to inject a little bit of creativity into a busy life. I know I’m always trying to make space in my life for the things I enjoy, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. So, I’m guessing other people might too because, who of us isn’t busy?
Secondly (and most importantly) Happy New Year! Though it seems so long ago since January 1 now. Where has the past 12 months gone? It's making me feel old (which isn't hard since my birthday is at the beginning of the year so I am, quite literally, a year older).
Aside from my birthday (kidding!), the beginning of a new year is probably best known for one thing (setting aside the food coma and excess of cheer from the festive season if you celebrate) and that's, New Year's resolutions. Love them, loathe them, I have thoughts...
The history of resolutions
Did you know that New Year’s resolutions aren’t a new phenomenon? They started with the Babylonians during their New Year's festival where they made promises to their gods and also to return things that they had borrowed, which I have to say, is a useful kind of resolution especially FOR ALL THOSE PEOPLE WHO HAVE BORROWED BOOKS AND HAVEN'T GIVEN THEM BACK. But staying right on track... resolutions were then adopted by the Romans and Julius Caesar (I wonder if he had a resolution and what it was?) with promises in the new year to "be good" which in my humble opinion, gives WIDE scope for interpretation.
For the West, in the beginning resolutions seemed to have more religious significance when at the start of the year, you’d think about your past mistakes and how to do better. Now, resolutions tend to be more about self-improvement, which is why they’re apparently harder to keep (more about that later!).
My history of resolutions
I used to make a New Year's resolution every year because it's what you did. It seemed almost like a compulsion to think up some grand and worthy challenge for the next 12 months. Set with a kind of macabre hope that by the end of the year I would have somehow improved myself; become thinner and fitter, or have a perfectly organised and always tidy house (hahahahaha!) Because generally that's what my resolutions came back to. Some quest for perfection that wasn’t reasonable for a mere mortal whose perfection was not their day job, and who didn’t have staff to help them achieve it.
Also, my invariable failure made me feel quite rubbish. It was like a treadmill of setting up the new year (which should have been bright and shiny and fresh) for broken dreams…
I read somewhere that 92% of people who make resolutions failed to achieve them (I also read somewhere that 55% of people felt like they’d successfully achieved some of their resolutions – lies, lies and damned statistics, I say). Whatever the percentage, using my own personal (highly scientific cough observational study) no-one I knew had ever made a resolution and stuck to it. If you want some real and fresh statistics on it all, you can check out the Forbes article.
Given resolutions are so difficult to maintain, it’s a wonder there hasn’t been a reality TV programme made about people’s resolutions, and how to keep them. Resolution Rescue™, anyone?
But seriously, if you have a burning desire to make a resolution, how do you actually keep it? Generally, the advice is that you should be really specific about your intentions. Not, “I want to get fit”, but, “I want to exercise half an hour a day, five days a week” which is something that’s measurable. It's also good to only have one resolution, rather than a whole shopping list which can tend to overwhelm (been there, done that, got the “attempt at being and overachiever” t-shirt).
Setting intentions instead
Instead of making resolutions, I decided to rid anything from my life that didn’t make me feel happy. No, not by giving up the housework… Did you know that I never have a cleaner home than when I’m on deadline from writing? It’s 100% true. But I digress… It was the other things. Like banishing any home beautiful type magazines from my house, because the magnificence of those places always made me feel lacking, when on some days with all the kids’ stuff scattered about, my home felt like an episode of Hoarders. (Okay, I’m told all those people with gorgeous houses had more cupboard space than me to hide their "stuff", but I didn’t have that in my house, right then.)
Truthfully, I should have reframed and thought, “At least I've got a roof my head,” but that's not where my mind was at, at the time. I found a simple change meant that I wasn't comparing myself or my situation with anybody. It was an absolute revelation, which made my life far better.
Also, without the pressure of a resolution that I should exercise as if I were planning to run the Boston Marathon, I started feeling better about myself and treated myself with a bit of grace. It was about recognising that in any moment I was trying my best juggling the day job, family and a writing career, and in the end that was all I could ask of myself. Because life throws you curve balls.
I don't think New Year’s resolutions have no place, but if they make you feel bad for not keeping them like they were doing to me, then maybe take a bit of a reframe. Instead of resolutions, what I like to do is to set a word for the year, an intention if you like. My word for 2023 was, Possibilities. I saw some and took them. Started a new job (a blessing and curse but that’s a long story). Contributed a short story to a couple of anthologies. I took a few chances just for the heck of it.
This year’s word is Sparkle. Why? I've chosen it because I tend to be pretty bad at looking after myself, and I think self-care is really important. Part of self-care is to have a bit of fun. It can be hard on top of everything else, when obligation and the need to keep everything at home ticking along tends to weigh you down. But my aim is to inject a bit of sparkle and fun into life. Say yes to more social engagements because I can tend to be a bit of an introverted hermit at times. Dress up a bit more, wear glitter eyeshadow (because who doesn’t love some glitter?), be a little silly because I reckon being a grown up is a recipe for being too serious and…enough of that.
Now, what if my 2024 isn’t full of “Sparkle” like I’d planned? Rather than wallowing in “perfectionist control freak” and bemoaning my failure, I'm going to be forgiving. Because there are 365 days in the new year to shine.
What about you? Do you set words or intentions for your year? Or do you have some exciting resolutions? I'd love to know what they are and whether you have any strategies in place to help you to keep them here or on social media. And if you've enjoyed my first blog, you can always subscribe on my website!
Otherwise for 2024, let's all have some sparkle. Until next time, love Kali.