It’s January, which, for those of us who haven’t yet come to terms with our laziness and apathy towards positive change, means a hastily thought-out list of embarrassing and unattainable goals disguised as ‘resolutions’.
The kind of promises that are definitely going to mock you when you fail to achieve even the simplest of them by the end of the month (and, to be frank, probably already are).
Lucky for you, there are people like me: the kind who have embraced their failures and decided the best way to haul themselves head-first into the oncoming year is not with a desire to change, diminish or shrink themselves, but with compassion and understanding (in other words, eating carbs and continuing to watch exactly the same amount of television as they did in 2018).
MAYBE TO YOU ‘EAT BETTER’ MEANS ‘GET TRUFFLE FRIES INSTEAD OF THE PLAIN ONES.'
It was in this spirit that I found myself Googling ‘most popular new year resolutions’, from which I found what I’m sure is a wildly inaccurate list of those attempted in 2018.
I decided to use this list as a template for a sort of alternative resolution guide for 2019, because life can be difficult and exhausting, and if you need to treat yourself to a beer, or a chocolate-chip cookie, or an entire Christmas ham at the end of the day, then girl you should just go ahead and have it.
1. EAT BETTER (BUT NOT IN THAT WAY)
The beauty of the phrase ‘eat better’ is that you can twist it to fit whatever your needs.
Maybe to you, ‘eat better’ means ‘buy fresh parmesan instead of the dusty kind in a packet’, or ‘get truffle fries instead of the plain ones’. I’m sure when most people make goals to eat better, they mean including more leafy greens in their diets.
Sure, you can do that if it makes you feel good, but why not also swap out the cheap ice cream for the super-creamy, expensive kind? Or maybe you can use up the buckwheat you bought and swore you were going to cook, or find a way to incorporate those exotic spices you received as a gift and have never used into a meal?
I don’t want to sound corny and dramatic, but sometimes just preparing your own food is like a revolutionary act of self-love. Yes, I have low standards, but I also get a little burst of pride from being able to properly chop and whisk and sear a thing that tastes good without burning down my entire neighbourhood.
2. INVEST IN (TRUE) SELF-CARE
Again, another hollow platitude that can either mean ‘meditate for several hours a week and sign up for the sweaty kind of yoga’ or, as I like to interpret it, ‘sit in the dark listening to true-crime podcasts and scrolling through Instagram’.
The commodified view of self-care seems to always involve luxury bath salts and fancy skin serums, and I’m super into that – but if it’s not your thing, it doesn’t matter.
If, for you, self-care involves turning your phone off and watching movies in bed, then great, do more of it.
Say kind things to yourself.
Pull out all your tucked- away special-occasion clothes and actually wear them.
Avoid talking to anyone who stresses you out.
Clean and/or organise one thing in your home, because huge projects are just overwhelming, and why doesn’t anyone ever admit that?
SAY KIND THINGS TO YOURSELF.
You can either say you’re going to deep clean your entire home and actually just spend the day weeping at your failure to get it all done, or you can fold some towels and put them away in the airing cupboard while listening to a podcast and be proud of your accomplishment.
And if people give you a hard time, just shout, ‘I CARE ABOUT MYSELF, OK?!’ until they get off your damn back.
3. LEARN A NEW SKILL... OR DON’T
I know a lot of random things, but very few of my skills can produce something that serves any actual purpose.
Every now and then, I wish I could be the kind of person who knits her own jumpers. Then I remember how irritated I was when I watched a tutorial to make a scarf and messed it up, and pat myself on the back for being smart enough to quit while I am ahead.
So instead of frustrating yourself, think of something you already know how to do and get a little better at it. Love cutting your own fringe? Perfect, cut it a little shorter!
Cooked a chicken once without burning it? Make another, but squeeze a lemon on it.
You are very good at doing things.
4. MAKE OLD FRIENDS
How is one supposed to actually do this?
I don’t participate in any group activity other than live-tweeting the same shows as other people I know on the internet. So how am I meant to meet friends IRL?
Every year, I hear people say they’re going to make new friends, and I think, ‘I can try that!’ and minutes later I’m like, ‘BUT WHERE?’
This feels like an awful lot of pressure.
So I propose that this year we start reaching out to all the long-lost friends we already have, and actually see them instead of getting stuck in a vortex of WhatsApps promising to meet up and never actually doing it.
5. READ BOOKS YOU ENJOY
As a writer and avid book recommender, I read a lot.
Not as much as I say I do, but nonetheless I compile an impressive annual list.
Yet even as someone who knows what they want in a book, I’ve read so many that I didn’t want to, either because I thought it made me look cool or might impress someone I wanted to sleep with.
Here’s a bit of advice that you might be inclined to use: read books you like and don’t read what you don’t.
If you told me I had to limit my reading to dictionary-thick history books, I would scoop my eyes out and throw them away.
So I read what I want and, if someone else is paying attention, pretend I’m reading something smart. What are they gonna do, ask for a book report?
6. BE HAPPY... SOMETIMES
Happy is one of those things we strive to be, without acknowledging it’s different for us all. (For me, it would be lazing around cat-like for 22 hours a day.)
Happiness is excellent and, if you’ve got some, please rub a little on me.
But we rarely get permission to be all the other things: bummed out, exhausted, irritated, perplexed.
HAPPY IS ONE OF THOSE THINGS WE STRIVE TO BE, WITHOUT ACKNOWLEDGING IT’S DIFFERENT FOR US ALL.
Just once, I wanna talk to someone who vows to kick off the new year in a full-tilt rage.
Maybe this will finally be the year they figure out how to put happiness in a pill. I’m mostly kidding.
Happy new year!
Samantha is the author of We Are Never Meeting In Real Life, out now (Faber)
This article appears in the February 2019 edition of ELLE UK.