It’s the New Year – Tuesday 2 January 2018, to be precise. Here I am at FHA HQ in Waterloo, and I can’t imagine anywhere better to be starting the next chapter of my working life, surrounded by a shiny new set of colleagues and clients.
They say that January is the best time to start a new job. Perhaps it is, but for me the timing was incidental rather than premeditated. They also say that January is the best time to make resolutions – to improve our lives, our health, our relationships. I’ve never understood the premise of this. Why wait until New Year to change something that makes you unhappy or is holding you back?
If it takes you until January to make a change in your life, chances are it won’t last all that long. Sooner or later, you’ll be spending your evenings glued to the sofa binge-watching Mindhunter on Netflix rather than brushing up on your French. Last week, the media reported that Meghan Markle’s New Year’s resolutions – to give up swearing and stop biting her nails – remained on her list every year. If your list includes the same resolutions year after year, surely you’re going wrong somewhere?
The science behind habit change is fascinating, and worth reading up on if you’re embarking on an intense period of self-improvement this month. Behavioural psychologists argue that vague and lofty resolutions are more likely to fail, but those that force you to be accountable and are part of your everyday routine, triggered by things you do daily, have a greater chance of success.
Rather than making a list of overly-ambitious resolutions, I try to be more self-aware, critical, and disciplined. This is about making small changes not just in January, but all year round. On Christmas Day this year, I followed Guy Pewsey’s advice and turned my phone off – an attempt to avoid the lure of Instagram and the Selfridges sale, and instead give my full attention to enjoying the day with my family. Admittedly this only lasted until around 6pm – still an admirable achievement if, like me, you’re constantly glued to your phone (for more on this see Nicky’s previous post).
Similarly, I know that attempting Dry January would be a futile exercise. The one time my friend and I committed to it, a month of abstinence quickly became two weeks, which became one week, which became four days. I don’t regret it for a second. I enjoy my Malbecs and Gavis far too much for that.
Instead, I shall be sticking to the 5:2. Not to be confused with the diet, this involves five days of abstinence followed by two glorious days of moderate consumption. Just enough for my liver to recover from the over-indulgences of the festive period and just enough not to entirely counteract my efforts in HIIT classes.
One final thought. Let’s face it, January is probably the worst month of the year. The reality is that most people aren’t interested in socialising, unless it’s at the gym or the office. So why make it worse by committing to a juice cleanse, the Ketogenic Diet, or drinking only mushroom coffee (hailed as one of the superfood trends of 2018 to watch out for)? I’ll take mine extra hot and without the added fungus, thanks.