Resolutions and regrets (Hello 2015!)

Since I failed to produce any substantial Christmas post (and am highly ashamed of it) I don’t want to miss the chance to contemplate the approaching end of this year. When each year is coming to an end it’s only natural we ponder over all sorts of things that the year has brought us and we tend to evaluate our successes and failures. These failures is what I want to talk about today, and it’s not because I try to be negative, but because these failures result in two very popular and typical New Year’s phenomena: regrets and resolutions.

I rarely regret anything. Not that my life has been so perfect but I just take everything as a lesson learned. However, I’m leaving 2014 with some regrets I must say. There were at least five great musicals on my bucket list that I wanted to see in London but I just never went. I saw the Lion King in Southampton though, but that will not make up for London. I regret not seeing every park I planned to go to, every market I wanted to visit, each gallery or a museum… there are loads of plans I did’t get to make happen. It’s not that I didn’t have time. I was just lazy, I was leaving it for later and in the end that “later“ never happened. These are in fact no regrets at all: they are all things I still can (and will!) do in the future so it’s alright.

I also rarely make New Year’s resolutions. When I was younger I gave it a go and made some, and truly wished to fulfill some of them, but all the attempts turned out quite pathetic. Now that I’m older (and wiser ha!) and have grown to be rather cynical I see New Year’s resolutions as nothing more than a useless and highly faulty social construct that basically serves to sum up all your nasty habits and point out all the things you have failed to do all the previous years, things which you are – despite your initial determination – very much likely to fail to do again next year. (“This year will be different!“. Let’s face it, it won’t).

Maybe this is one of the reasons why people want to get drunk on New Year’s Eve: they want to drink away the last year wishing that when they next come to their senses the new year will be here and they will step into it with a clean shield, starting a new chapter. There’s something definite about the new year. Someting that gives us the feeling of a new beginning. People like to round up things: “I will do this or that when the clock hits three. It’s 2:50 so I’ve still got 10 wonderful minutes of procrastination.“ When all of a sudden you realise its 3:03 and you think: “Okay then, so I’ll start at four.“ I think it is the same with the new year – people agree on making changes in their lives easier because they take the brand new year as a milestone. Plus it brings such pleasure to their bad habits: “This is my last packet of cigarettes – so I’m going to enjoy it even more!“ The truth is, though, that if you really want to quit smoking it shouldn’t be a problem for you to do it on the 30 December or any other day during the year. And if you don’t and have your cigarette the morning after a NYE party you can either postpone this decision for the next year or you simply never truly wanted to quit. So don’t. It’s fine. No need for excuses.

I think it’s only normal that by the end of the year we tend to regret things and as a consequence try to improve them by making resolutions. It is like a promise to ourseves not to fail again. But do these “failures“ really matter? If they do you don’t need a New Year’s Eve to remind you to do things differently. And are they even actual failures? – that you smoke, don’t go to gym, eat junk food, drink, or swear? Maybe you like your lifestyle as it is, not perfect, but… who is perfect? Is it not just a generally accepted indoctrination of how a life should be lived? A social construct? Live your life just like YOU want to live it. No regrets. Screw resolutions.

I am stepping into the new year with this little motto: If you want it, don’t talk about it. Do it! No more excuses.

May you all have the best year ahead!

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