Be better not new: January 1st

I have to start by acknowledging the idea of ‘be better not new’ isn’t my idea I heard it on the radio, I think, whilst stuck in the car on the trip of never-ending traffic jams.

It’s such a simple yet obvious suggestion. Instead of writing a list of New Years Resolutions – that you will feel guilted into when the clock strikes midnight and cling to begrudgingly until around 5th January when, if like me, you inevitably forget or think sod it! You decide to just do the things you love and already enjoy, but better. So if you already do a tiny bit of yoga (once every 6 months for me) that’s fine, just aim to be better at remembering or finding time – twice every 6 months?

You can ‘be nicer’, ‘be calmer’, ‘be more considerate’, ‘be less busy’. None of these are definite and they are rather fluffy but they are doable, small steps in the right direction. I always have resolutions like learn how to skateboard. No it’s not impossible and yes we should all have dreams and goals that we aspire to, but after 15 year I still don’t skateboard, I really shouldn’t skate board for potential injury, and beyond the two days before the 31st December, I totally forget my desire to skateboard.

I also don’t believe that starting new things, setting life goals or making/breaking habits should be reserved for one day a year. It’s a lot of pressure! On the one day of the year you are most likely to have a hang over, surround by equally green friends and family, I don’t think you should be making such extravagant promises to yourself or others. Plus the emphasis it places on those tasks often outweighs the change required and becomes a sabotaging influence not an encouraging one.

So this year, instead of ‘reading a certain book’ – I had Sophie’s World on my list of must read books for about 8 years. Every year it was a resolution and every year I failed until last year when I only took that book on holiday to force myself to finish it, which I did….and didn’t enjoy. I am going to make a note of things I would like to do more or less of and track them. They won’t be new things, they certainly aren’t extravagant but I want to spend my time doing the things I love not the things I’ve guilted myself into. I got zero satisfaction from Sophie’s World in the end as for 8 years I felt like I’d failed, then after a torturous holiday I discovered I didn’t even like the book! So by tracking habits I want to do more or less of I hope to find patterns. And then I can work out, how do I really like to spend my time and what do I seem to avoid. Then I can decide if more radical change is needed.

I’ve actually tracked my habits since October, just to really rebel against the January 1st starting line. And it is amazing how little I know myself. I have clearly made assumptions and decisions based on what I think I should be doing not what I actually enjoy doing and actually do. For instance, I always thought I drank a little too often. Not loads, just a glass or two of wine here and there. However as it turns out, I drank ONCE in October, once. Not every weekend and evening like I’d assumed and not through intentionally avoiding it. I also discovered I spend money every day, even if its only a pound or two, I never have a zero spend day. So now, I have a couple goals to work with, I would like to spend less and you guessed it read a little more often (you thought drink more wine!) So I have added reading to my tracker every month to see how I get on, if in a couple of months it’s still going terribly maybe I need to reassess. Why don’t I read if I think it would be such a great use of time?

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