x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

New year's hollow promises

Katie Trotter on why we should avoid New Year's resolutions.

Perhaps I am one of life's darned fools. A fantasist, a person who vows time and time again to stick to demonstrably unkeepable resolutions, and worse still has the dim sense that I will make the world a little more how I want it.

You can forget realistic notions such as vowing to hit the gym twice a week or getting a new haircut - oh no! I aim big, off the radar big. I vow to train for a triathlon (and win it), and perhaps throw a novel in there while I'm at it - scribble it out through the night; who needs sleep anyway?

Of course, if you're bright and grown up and conduct yourself in a certain reserved manner, you tend not to let on that you are clawing away at reality, desperately trying to better yourself. But you are. We all are.

Resolutions are simply fantasies we create that imprison us. They go something like this: write a list of every little thing in your life you despise, then slowly and painfully fail to change it. Perhaps you're seething, perhaps you're one of the few who stick to their guns. "Hey!" I hear you hiss ,"I did my 400 squat thrusts in the park and managed to hit seven and a half stone - sure I was  positively ravenous, and utterly miserable for most of 2010 but I damn well did it." And for that I apologise and tip my hat to you, but scurry off now and leave the rest of us losers to wallow in despair.

Given that actually carrying out most of these inane resolutions is about as much fun as building a portrait of Henry VIII from matchsticks, my advice for 2011 is - stuff it! All this faddish garb isn't doing any of us any good, is it?

You can always redeem your jaded self with the fact that the type who fervently stick to life-changing plans are more often than not perky "yes" people, the type with a forehead in a permanent state of Botox-fed paralysis, a fancy car and an even fancier partner - the dinner party bores who, of course, we good, old cynics never give a toss about.

So as of today, my friends - and I urge you to do the same - I am not going to take up the flute, I am not going to read Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past or give myself over to charity. Because as Mark Twain wrote of New Year's Day in 1863: "Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink and swore his last oath." Life is tough enough without sacrificing all the fun bits. It throws in all the nasties for us already - our relationships with ourselves need not be one of them.

Simply remind yourself that most of us will not end 2011 as a trilingual muscle machine with a rather smug-looking bank balance. More than likely we'll be just as agitated, humdrum and plump as ever. But at least we will have a raucous time getting there.