IT’S far trendier to say you’re not making resolutions. Cool, together, intellectual folk know that, given their unlikely success rate, we should care less about making New Year to-do lists and accept our shortcomings as cute personality quirks. I’m not one of those cool, intellectual people. I make earnest attempts to improve every year from 1 January – despite an inner voice telling me “you ain’t gon’ change, sis”. This year’s no different. 2016, in all its awfulness, proved that right now injecting a little optimism into our New Year forward planning wouldn’t be much of a bad thing. And, while it could be easy to play George Michael’s Careless Whisper on endless repeat and bask in hopelessness, it’d be wise to start 2017 as we mean to go on: with a little faith.
So, here’s my personal resolution list that we all probably should stick to:
I would read so much I’d give myself a debilitating migraine. I’d read so much I would forget to eat. Before Netflix wormed its way into our lives, binge-reading was the thing-to-do. I still adore reading but, as it requires devotion to one solitary activity, while not engaging with the internet or multi-app-tasking, it can feel less proactive than, well…sharing my unsolicited thoughts via social media. Sad, isn’t it? These days we consume so much information at such a fast pace, that we no longer allow ourselves moments to unwind. Making time to read reminds us to slow down. You move into a pace you choose. It’s the most delightful escapism. We should do it more. The BBC also suggests that reading for 30 minutes a week increases health and wellbeing. ‘Reading for pleasure has been found to improve our confidence and self-esteem, providing the grounding we need to pursue our goals and make life decisions. It can also aid our sleep and reduce feelings of loneliness.’ I'm off to Waterstones...
GET OFF THE INTERNET OCCASIONALLY
I’ve read a vast number of articles likening Instagram to Heroin – I’m serious. Call it a pseudo-science, but some research has compared the mood-boosting effects of social media to similar feelings found when gambling, drinking and smoking. It’s highly addictive. I’m living proof. The most troubling aspect of a digital addiction is it can have a detrimental effect on esteem and for others, it can prevent them from forming and sustaining meaningful relationships. We can all agree this isn’t good. What to do? We’re a generation both obsessed with and dependent on digital (take away my Instagram and we’re fighting), but in 2017, we may need to seek balance and power down.
DRINK MORE WATER
Beautiful people always swear by H20. It’s the elixir of youth – just look at 52-year-old Elle Macpherson, she swears by water. That should have you guzzling two litres a day for a start. We all know water is key to survival but a lot of us struggle to drink enough of it, me included. So here’s some persuaders; water can help you lose weight, prevent headaches, improve skin texture, help you perform better in work, flush out your digestive system and, most importantly, research shows drinking more water can help prevent some illnesses, including some cancers.
TAKE MORE RISKS (BUT NO 'YOLO')
For me, my 2017 risk-taking ranges from getting my first mortgage to wearing more clashing prints. It’s easy for life to stay stagnant while playing it safe. Yet, when we look back at our lives, we’ll likely remember those moments we decided to throw caution to the wind. Now, we’ve long past the era where shouting ‘YOLO!’ (you only live once!) allowed some young-uns’ to do stupid stuff without fear of repercussion (there’s always repercussions) - those type of risks, such as downing a litre of vodka, are never worth it. Instead, in 2017 go for the vital things we really want but have been too scared to try. Want a new job? Apply. Want to try a new activity? Then sign up. That cute guy you pass every day on the way to work? Say hello. Yes, you risk rejection and failing, but the risk of living a life unfulfilled is much greater.
BETTER MONEY MANAGEMENT
Money doesn’t buy happiness, no. Yet, it’d be wrong to suggest that having a bit of money in the bank doesn’t help. Money allows both freedom and security. Earlier this year, it was revealed in a report by This Money that ‘one in six adults in the UK is described as 'over-indebted', this equates to 8.2million people across the UK’. Scarily, various mental health charities have cited debt as a leading cause of depression in adults. With this said, I’ve often wondered why proper money management isn’t taught in schools. I left high-school without a clue about interest rates, APRs or equity – and I’m still a bit iffy on the subject of money. A good New Year’s resolution to abide by would be sticking to a budget (yes, time to put down that daily £4 caramel latte, love). See advice bureau like the Money Advice Service for tips.
SPEND MORE TIME WITH LOVED ONES
It would baffle me just how often the women Sex And The City would see each other on regular basis, you know, between their busy careers and all the sex. It's a friendship I've always admired, regardless whether it's a fictional one. Which leads me to think about my own relationships and time spent cultivating them.
One of the more lasting effects of this troubled year – despite the deaths of many treasured celebrities, or the terrifying attacks around the world – is realising that we should make ample time for those we cherish in our lives. Work, career-chasing, relationships can all take priority in our day-to-day schedules, so we can all be guilty of putting friendship on the back burner.
Still, I’ve long believed in the healing powers of a long chat and a cup of tea (followed by a bottle of wine). Whatsapp a friend just to say hi. Take your mum out on a Sunday. I risk being horrendously cheesy here, but in a world where everyone’s busy, where your time is precious, spending your time with someone you love is a priceless gift.