Elizabeth Day: New year, old me

I don’t think I have ever kept a New Year’s resolution. I’m a contrarian by nature so when it comes to things that almost everyone else does, I tend to opt out. As soon as there’s a popular consensus, I go the other way. It’s why I’ve never read Harry Potter or watched Mad Men and why I’ve never eaten a KFC chicken bucket. As soon as you tell me something is a must-see or a must-do, I decide to take the opposite view.

Elizabeth Day new Year
Hair: Fabio Nogueira. Make-Up: Ruby Hammer. Styling: Holly Elgeti. Jumper and trousers, Chinti & Parker. Image: Jenny Brough

I appreciate that this is entirely self-defeating. It means I miss out on experiences that would probably bring me pleasure (not the chicken bucket though; I have no regrets about that).

When it comes to resolutions, I feel on firmer ground. Everyone tells me I need to set goals for the 12 months ahead because a New Year means a new you. But what if I don’t want to become a new me? What if I’m perfectly happy with the old one? I have come to understand my quirks and foibles in much the same way that you can live with a faulty boiler for decades, knowing which buttons to press and when it needs a firm kick. Becoming a new me would require a lot of work and there would be a complicated instruction manual I wouldn’t understand. I am not an iPhone with inbuilt obsolescence, requiring an annual upgrade.

So no, I don’t believe in traditional New Year’s resolutions. They encourage us to have unrealistic expectations and they set us up for failure. We make goals high in the hopes that we’ll become better at life, without realising that life doesn’t run according to our schedule. Which is why, this year, I have decided to make a list of resolutions that I am guaranteed to keep.

According to research, the top ten most common resolutions include losing weight, eating more healthily, learning a new skill, drinking less alcohol and spending more time on personal wellbeing. So for 2020, my unbreakable New Year’s resolutions will include…

  1. Losing respect for anyone who makes me feel I have to lose weight. This is my body and I choose how to inhabit it. I resolve to remind myself that my weight is an arbitrary measurement which has little bearing on the person I am. I resolve to exercise when it makes me feel good. I resolve to understand that exercise is about making me feel strong and nourished, not thin and ravenous.
  2. Eating whatever I want, in moderation. This might include a lot of cheese should my body desire. I resolve to listen to what my body is telling me I want to eat, rather than what my anxious brain is informing me I should be eating in order to look like a celebrity on Instagram who has probably photoshopped her bikini shots.
  3. Not learning a new language. Sure, the idea sounds good, but I only ever envisage the end point, when I will be fluent in Italian, ordering squid-ink pasta in a little spot in Venice, possibly while wearing large sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat.
  4. I’ll probably drink as much alcohol as I want. I am an adult, after all, and able to make these choices for myself.
  5. I will spend more time on my wellbeing by not listening to anyone who wants me to buy things they promise will advance it. I will spend less time on the Goop website, ogling useless tchotchkes such as eggs to put up my vagina or powders that promise to give my skin a morning glow.

I feel fairly confident that I can stick to these five. So, no, I won’t be entering 2020 expecting a new me. I’m happy with the one I have already. She just needs some fine-tuning.

This week I’m…

Wearing

Lacey 85 bordeaux-coloured velvet pumps with stud detailing by Jimmy Choo: the perfect party shoe.

Reading

Grown Ups by Marian Keyes: a novel that is warm and witty but never afraid to tackle the big stuff.

Lounging

In Chinti & Parker sky-blue side-split wool cashmere track pants. The kind of garb I intend to wear to the airport to get free upgrades.