I resolve to stop making resolutions

Ilona Hanne






I’ve not got a very good track record when it comes to New Year’s resolutions. Well, I suppose it sits at 50 per cent — is that a pass? I am actually really good at making them. It’s just the sticking to them I struggle with. Ever since I was old enough to understand a new year meant trying to be a new, better than old, me, I have faithfully kept to the tradition of making wild promises and commitments in January. Come February each year, I have just as faithfully broken any and all such resolutions. Right back to my teenage years, the New Year has brought a string of failed attempts at improving myself. There was the year I turned 17, where I was going to learn an extra language in addition to my A Level French attempts. I started off well, got a book of “conversational German” out of the library, renewed it three times but never actually got past the first chapter. In my defence, we are talking about a language with four noun case endings and three grammatical genders, but realistically, my 17-yearold self hadn’t even got to those chapters, I had given up well before that at the first glimpse of the eszett — that strange German letter that’s pronounced as ss but looks like a letter B as drawn by a drunk ant walking through ink. Fast forward a couple of years and instead of trying to take on new things, I was trying to give up old habits. After two-plus years of university life it is probably no surprise I decided giving up alcohol would be a great resolution when I was 20. Given I was still at university however, it’s probably also no surprise that resolution lasted until the first day I was back in my student flat, situated conveniently above a pub that offered students pints for one pound. That wasn’t the only year I tried, and failed, to change my drinking habits. More recently I decided to do two things — drink more water and drink less gin. That resolution could almost be considered a pass, if you swapped the two around that is. Then there are the non-alcoholrelated self-improvement resolutions I have made over the years. Losing weight, increasing fitness, eating less junk, taking more vitamins, becoming stronger, slimmer, cleverer, healthier, taking up running, swimming, walking . . . the list of failed resolutions would far surpass any distance I have successfully run, swum or walked in my life. Basically, for the past 20 or more years I have started each new year believing I am not enough as I am, that I need some (lots of) improvement in order to be better, or at the very least, good enough. I have spent over two decades chasing the idea of being more than I already am, or less when it comes to those dietrelated resolutions that seemed to be the key focus for much of my 20s. Given my inability to actually keep any of those resolutions, I have also spent the past 20 plus years feeling like a failure by February. So this year, that’s changing. This year I didn’t make a single resolution on January 1, and I won’t be next year either. Instead of starting my year listing the ways I could be better, I am choosing instead to take the attitude that I am enough. I don’t need to be slimmer, stronger, faster or cleverer than I am, and I am going to start liking myself for who I am, not wasting time wishing I was better. Looking back at all those years of failed resolutions, I struggle to find any I actually wish I had managed to keep. Admittedly I did marry a German, so maybe that pesky eszett could have come in handy, but our marriage has survived almost two decades without it anyway. Choosing to accept myself as being enough isn’t about giving up on any form of healthy eating, responsible gin consumption or never leaving the sofa again, but is rather about focusing on the positive rather than the negative. I might not be the fittest or the cleverest in the room, but my friends, parents, children and even the husband all seem to like me as I am, so it’s about time I do too. So maybe I have made a New Year’s resolution after all this year — to never make a New year’s resolution again.