I’m something of an irritating perfectionist, I am old enough now to admit. I like to do well. I like to get 100% in tests. I don’t like to fail at things. If there is a target I haven’t met it makes me feel depressed. Even if the target was set by me. And New Year’s Resolutions fall into that category. If something is on the list, it must get done.
Which puts a bit of pressure on the list-making.
Luckily, around the age of 15, I discovered a way around this and started making New Year’s Resolutions that I knew I would definitely achieve. I found my list for 1995 in the back of an old notebook recently and was amused to see that one of the resolutions was “Get at least five GCSEs grade A to C”.
Sounds like a good resolution, no? Except, I was sitting 11 exams and had been predicted (and wanted to get) As in all of them. But if I’d put that down on the list, I might have failed to do it and that would have bummed me out too much. (In fact, I didn’t get straight As. I got a B in drama, despite my participation in a particularly “creative interpretation” of a play about which I remember nothing apart from the fact my role was wandering around saying things like, “Surely it must be tea time? Where are the muffins and crumpets? Where is the thin cut bread and butter? Where is the tea?” Oh, and we definitely, at the age of 16, thought it was a good idea to add in lots of howling and dramatic falling to the floor. Looking back, I think I was spectacularly lucky to get that B.)
So, under-promising and over-delivering (to myself) was a skill I picked up young, but it made New Year’s Resolutions a bit pointless… A few years ago though, someone suggested to me the idea of making a list of things you could do that year instead of things you should do. Less didactic, more inspirational.
So, now I don’t make resolutions, I make a list called “This year I could…” And I put on all sorts of things that sound like fun, even if there doesn’t seem like a genuine chance I could do them.
More often than not, I’ll be surprised that some of these things do end up happening. Two years ago, I was in a London office job, without much real intention of leaving. I put “Go to Asia and learn to dive” on the list and, waddya know, in June I set off for Thailand and spent a year travelling round Southeast Asia including, indeed, six months diving.
I’m not saying anything like that “ask the universe and it’ll deliver” nonsense. Nope, I think that’s utter rot and don’t believe that people always get what they deserve in life. But somehow, the act of writing something down at the start of the year puts it a little more firmly in your brain and makes you a little more likely to take a step towards it.
I also make a point of putting down lots of contradictory things as well, so that it simply wouldn’t be possible to do everything on the list, just to confound the irritating eight-year-old inside me who still wants to get an A+ in the test…
So, in this spirit, here is my list of seven things I could do in 2013. Some I hope I genuinely will. Others are highly unlikely. I’ll take a look at the start of 2014 and see if any of them happened. (But if they didn’t, I’ll do my best not to beat myself up…)
- Move to Italy, buy a little house with some land, make cheese and start a goat farm. Oh and set up a bed and breakfast.
- Set up a lovely boutique B&B in the currently extremely seedy-looking hotel just down the road from me. (Possibly start a little farm in the garden there too, or at least get some chickens.)
- Come up with some actual designs for my fabric company and get them printed.
- Attend a screen printing course.
- Get pregnant again.
- Get much better at photography.
- Visit Dresden.
So, tell me, do you make resolutions in the New Year? What’s made it onto your list for 2013?