A new year, a new outlook, a new me; and this year I really mean it!

How many times have I said that to myself when New Year comes around, only to look back 12 months later with a sad shake of the head? It’s hard not to fall into the New Year’s resolution trap and to set ambitious self-improvement goals that barely last the week.

By the time December comes, you can no longer ignore the fact that you only went to the gym four times (all in the first week of January), you still smoke (but now in secret), your alcohol consumption has actually gone up, and the prologue of your autobiography is still only four lines long.

And it really is a trap. Your inability to keep to your New Year’s resolution fuels a determination to do it for real this time, and so you enthusiastically continue the annual cycle of failure that undermines your self worth and inevitably leads to the psychiatrist’s couch.

Okay, I’m exaggerating a bit, but I’m just trying to psyche myself up for the resolution that I’ve set for myself this year, which I warn you is highly unimaginative but unfortunately necessary: I have resolved to lose some weight.

Of all the resolutions I’ve never seen through, this is the first time I’ve had to set the goal of losing weight. I guess I’ve been lucky until now but a vicious combination of an injury limiting my ability to do physical exercise, middle age, and way too much beer have conspired against me. One of the hardest things about the whole thing is the sheer lack of originality, as the internet informs me that ’lose weight’ is the world’s most common (and most broken) New Year’s resolution.

I’ve already embarked on my journey towards regaining something of my former litheness, but perhaps you are still casting around for a goal that will make you more like the person you want to be. What, I thought to myself, might qualify as an uncommon and yet worthwhile resolution that is original and simple, and so possibly more achievable? What follows is a short list of resolutions that are not hard to do but that can really make a difference.

Teach yourself a party trick. Mastering a new skill gives a welcome boost to your self esteem and in this case you can also enhance your social caché and popularity at the same time.

Try a new food every week. While not necessarily compatible with losing a few kilos after the excesses of the festive season, this is an easy way to have new experiences, increase your knowledge, and add extra nutrients to your diet and new flavours to your palate.

Go to sleep earlier. Spending time in bed is something most people enjoy but few of us get anywhere near enough sleep. Give your mental and physical health a boost simply by cutting down on screen time and making the effort to slip between the sheets a bit earlier every night.

Become a volunteer. I’m told that helping other people is extremely rewarding. Devoting time to others (and getting out of the house and meeting people) might be exactly what we need to distract us from our own problems. There’s the added bonus of not wanting to let anyone down, which means this is a resolution that we might actually stick to.

Do something nice every day. If you like the idea of helping others but haven’t got the time to volunteer, then set the goal of doing one nice thing every day. Donate blood, put that litter in a bin rather stepping over it, pay someone a compliment, offer your seat to someone who needs it, you know the type of thing, be nice, it’s a simple goal to keep to and you will be better off for it, which is the whole point of self improvement after all!


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