It’s nearly 2017. For a lot of people, 2016 has been a horrible year. The deaths of Victoria Wood, Liz Smith, David Bowie, Jo Cox, George Michael, Carrie Fisher and Richard Adams, among so very many other inspirational, much-loved people, have been painful and reminded so many of us of our own fragility. The tragedies in Syria, Berlin and so many other places in the world have been nothing short of absolutely heartbreaking and tragic. Brexit and Donald Trump, quite frankly – for the vast majority – just weren’t supposed to happen, and both of these results reminded us of the power of – what we would hope to be – the minority.
The first thing, however, that I refuse to do is to feel guilty. 2016 has been – like every other year in my life – mixed, but I am grateful for the good things that have happened. I was discharged from hospital; went on two of the best holidays I’ve ever had; found incredible new friends and I’ve been to the cinema more times than I ever have in my life. Those things have made me smile but – probably because I’m a little bit ridiculous – I’ve found myself feeling that I shouldn’t have enjoyed this year because so many terrible things have happened.
And that goes for you too: you are not a bad person for enjoying the good things that have happened, or for feeling that you’ve accomplished things that you can be proud of.
I am also refusing to make any New Year’s Resolutions at the beginning of next year. The first couple of paragraphs of this blog post do nothing if they don’t underline the unpredictability of life. Why strive for self-imposed targets when you can accept that life is always going to throw the frisbee of fate? Whilst it might seem like a good idea to set new challenges and goals at the beginning of the year, you’ve probably got to go back to work next week. Cooking everything you eat from scratch and following any diet based on a hashtag (seriously?), whilst arriving at the gym at six am for a two hour workout every morning and then volunteering at a soup kitchen every Thursday evening might seem realistic when you’re sitting in your cosy house with your family after Christmas, but is it really going to seem so achievable when it’s dark and cold and you’ve got to de-ice the car and all you want is a Marks and Spencer macaroni cheese?
Should you beat yourself up over that?
Just because the last digit of the year has changed doesn’t mean that you have to feel guilty for not changing the way you are and, for the record, this includes Resolutions about ‘being a nicer person’ and ‘gaining self-confidence’. Self-confidence will come with self-compassion, which is not a by-product of setting unachievable goals, and exactly who is who is making you believe you aren’t a nice person? Remember that people give you Christmas presents because they think you’re amazing. Why would you want to decide that you need vast improvement in all areas of your life just two weeks after that?
The big one, as far as I’m concerned, what with the anorexia and so on and so forth, is that I am definitely sure that you do not need to go on a diet in the new year. Either you don’t need to lose weight or you need to go to the doctors and get professional help to lose weight in a sensible way. Nobody needs to sweat in front of a DVD, or do Insanity in their garage just because the media is telling them that they should. I can guarantee that 99% of everybody will be talking about weightloss. I can also guarantee that 99% of everybody will be eating a Hobnob at about half past three because they’re a bit peckish. Continuing to eat like a normal person in January isn’t a crime. Being hungry in January isn’t a crime.
You do not need to lose weight just because it’s January.
The one thing that you do have to do (on my orders, because I am the lizard Queen of the universe) at the start of 2017 is to remember that you are flipping fantastic and to keep on keeping on being the person that you are.
And that should be easy because you’ve been doing it for 100% of your life anyway.