A new year, a new start; 2015 has just unfurled itself before us, like an untrodden expanse of virgin snow.

The beginning of January’s when many of us rue the excesses of the festive season. I know I’ve surveyed my previous year’s tattered self with a mixture of shame and indignation in Januarys past. How could my past self let my future self down so badly? How did my current self get so damn broken? There is so much to be done! Let me write it all down!

And so, we can find ourselves with a list as long as arm; not for new cushions or clothes in the sales, but shopping for a new self. One who has willpower. One who will cushion us from the blows we inflict upon ourselves, whether they’re unconscious or wilfully-set self-sabotage.

A new self who, like a new outfit, looks far better on us than last year’s tired old thing.

A few weeks later, in the slump after the Christmas credit card bill arrives, those resolutions are languishing as unloved and shame-inducing as the wilting lettuce in our fridges and the gym membership card in our wallets.

So, what can we do?

Whenever I’m faced with an opportunity for change, I try and remind myself of one thing; to be kind to myself. This, above all others, is paramount.

When it comes to resolutions, this means;

  • Picking a maximum of three things to adjust or change. Anything more, and it’s too overwhelming to keep track. I feel it’s better to keep one promise to myself well rather then several badly and with stress.
  • Keeping them small and easy to build into a weekly routine. Setting an early night a week, for example. If it works well, I can always make it twice a week. Start small, and allow the possibility of increasing when it becomes easy.
  • If I don’t keep a resolution one day or one week, forgiving myself. It’s too easy to abandon something if there’s a break in continuity. The real discipline and willpower comes in being gentle enough with myself to start again. And again. And again, if necessary.

Each day can be a blank page, and each new year a book yet to be written. Let yours be filled with kindness.

[Edited to add; if you want to know WHICH resolutions or intentions to make, you need Oliver Burkeman’s pithy and genius guide, right now and for alwayshttp://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jan/02/oliver-burkeman-new-years-resolutions-worth-making]

Photo Credit: Eric Epps

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