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New Year Resolutions

I really must set a New Year Resolution to make New Year Resolutions!

I read the other day about someone settling on some more realistic objectives this year: cutting back on bassoon playing, not speaking Cantonese for the whole year, diligently eating chocolate every day.  That sounds like a good place to start.

Apparently Mark Twain said “New Year is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls and humbug resolutions.”

As I read down a list of 40 top resolutions, some are simple, others definitely aren’t.

As you would expect right near the top is “to go on a diet”.  Hmmmm, that might involve eating less – for those that know me, that might be tricky!

The second most common is to stop smoking – easy for me: “I resolve not to start smoking.”

Further down the list we find some that should be fairly easy: “buy a Sunday paper” or “buy a tablet” (presumably they’ve got a headache!?!).

Some are a bit more general:
– “read more books”: Don’t say that to my wife, the bookcases are already overflowing.  But how will you know – did you count how many you read last year?  If not, count them this year, and then try to beat it next year.
–  “Take better photos”: Sounds good, but presumably what they actually need to do is read about the subject, go on a course or talk to an expert.

As I try to relate this to me, there are various things at home that we keep say “One day we really must…….”.  The trouble is the ‘urgent stuff’ of general life takes over, and there is a high risk I’ll be saying the same thing next year.  Of course, what I should be doing is not resolve to do something, but to actually do it i.e. just pick up the phone and invite someone round or book a date in the diary to sort out our wills.

And then there is work.  For me, January is a time when I try to look back at what I’ve achieved in the previous year and set some specific plans for next year.

– What new areas of work should I be looking at?
– How can we use technology to become more efficient at what we do?
– What problems arose last year that I can help put in a process to try to avoid this year?
– How can I develop others to take the pressure off me during those inevitable busy times?

As I look back now to my plans for 2013, there are some things that have gone really well, and other things it is more a case of “oops, forgot about that”.  Interestingly it is those projects that involve sitting somewhere to think and write, without being interrupted that are the hardest to get done.  So, “I hereby resolve to sit in a darkened room once every 2 months, without a phone and emails, in order to complete those projects this year.”  Of course, unless I now go and blank some days out in my diary, it still won’t happen.

Sometimes people say there is no point in setting plans and making resolutions, because circumstances change and you have to adapt and we all know what we should be doing anyway.  Of course there is some truth in that, but I think the process of thinking through resolutions helps to firm things up in your mind, and, assuming you write them down, they can act as a reminder of what you thought important.

And finally, for all those who have resolved “to eat less chocolate”, I would like to encourage you and support you by allowing you to bring all the chocolate that you have to me for safekeeping.  And, if you are ever tempted and sneak out at lunchtime to buy a chocolate bar or two, my door is always open to help you stick to your resolution.  If it happens to be a day I’m sitting in a darkened room, I will leave a suitable container on my desk, clearly labelled for this purpose.

Happy New Year!