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Image / Editorial

The Anti-New Year’s Resolution


by Ellie Balfe
01st Jan 2015
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new years resolution list

We’re all very hard on ourselves aren’t we? It feels like the annual ‘let’s all hate ourselves’ time of year.

As if January wasn’t rough enough, everywhere you look someone is shouting the virtues of juicing, detox diets and drastic fitness regimes. Yes, of course these are worthwhile endeavours but come on – we’re not going to ALL jump into gyms on Jan 1st to atone for our festive feasting and lounging. It’s cold and dark. We just want to hibernate. Leave us alone.

Thing is – I’m not unsusceptible to it myself; every year as the calendar switches to the New Year, I automatically fill my mind with new plans and ideas for basically re-modelling myself. ‘This year I’ll be a better Mum, a better worker/daughter/sister/friend. I’ll work harder at even more business ideas, I’ll get that Cindy Crawford body, I’ll eat fish every second night, I’ll turn off the telly and teach my kids how to do their long division before they can even talk properly…’

All of these notions are doing nothing but giving me the message that I’m not really doing a good enough job. And frankly, I’m sick of it. And I know better. My 38 years have given me some wisdom, as have a few years of rough times (a business failing, a separation, my Mum’s cancer, bringing up two little girls). My struggles are no less or no more than many people’s – they are just part of life’s tapestry – none of us immune. But they take a toll; they reduce and tire. So, why (the hell) do we carry on giving ourselves negative messages?!

I’m over it. So this year I am going to give myself a break. A large one! I am still going to be mindful of living well and healthily but aren’t these normal processes that we naturally strive to live by all year anyway? Not something to enforce as punishment when it’s still wintery and you feel least like going for lengthy walks and doing improving activities…

I am going to go at my own pace, thank you very much. And I will reach my more realistic set of goals eventually as I walk through the year. I have arrived at my goal list by looking at my life and seeing what I would like to change or to add to it. And most of it is adding things; I want to take up yoga, I want to join a book club, I want to (fearfully) embrace online dating (eek!), I want to take my kids to things that are on past their bedtime, I want to take two holidays (one with kids, one without!). I want to subtract stress and add happiness where reasonably possible, and I feel that this is a viable equation if we all could stop beating ourselves up about things! Life is tough enough. So veto the deprivation, diminish the denial; life is for celebrating. Cliched, but bloody true!

So right now, I am going to celebrate how far I’ve come – I got through Christmas and three sets of flu, I got through an ok?ish 2014, but the main thing is – I Got Through. I certainly don’t want to start criticising my body or punishing my poor frazzled soul.

So instead of denying myself little pleasures, this year my new year’s resolution is to TAKE them where I can. So I’m putting on the kettle, I’m going to open that box of chocolates and read the book that is still under my tree (yes it’s still up) and tonight I may have some wine, even though it’s only Thursday, because I’m vowing to go easy on myself and maybe I’ll diet in May. Or maybe I won’t.

So welcome 2015, a brand new year full of things that have never been.

Happy New Year to you all.

@elliebalfe