I love new beginnings. I love the opportunity they bring for replacing bad habits with good ones. I feel just as excited about the approach of New Year as I do about Christmas. Because for me, New Year’s Eve is inextricably linked with making New Year’s Resolutions.
That’s not the only time that I look forward to making resolutions. With the single-mindedness of a heat-seeking missile, I find other opportunities to contemplate reform all year round: the beginning of each school term, the summer solstice, the spring and autumn equinoxes. My birthday on 18th January is perfectly timed to jump-start any stalled New Year’s resolutions before I’ve had time to forget what they were.
If I still find myself in need of prompts to change, I can always fall back on that old mantra beloved by the manufacturers of fridge magnets and bookmarks:
Today is the first day of the rest of your life
But there is such a thing as trying too hard. We could probably all come up with a huge list of things we’d like to change about ourselves: lose weight, get more exercise, eat better, drink less, keep the house/car/offspring cleaner/tidier, keep on top of the gardening/ironing/housework, read more books/better books/less trash.
When Did Your New Year’s Resolution Last All Year?
One of the the reasons these things crop up every year on most people’s lists is that every year they fail. I can’t remember anyone ever telling me on New Year’s Eve that they’ve had to find a new resolution because they’ve kept the one they made last year.
So for 2013, I’m going to make just one New Year’s Resolution. That way, I reckon I’ll have a greater chance of success. By choosing this resolution very carefully, I’ve stumbled on a great strategy. If I manage to keep this one, I reckon I’ll end up reforming in lots of other ways without even trying. What is this powerful resolution? It is TO GET MORE SLEEP.
Lately, I’ve got into the bad habit of burning the midnight oil. I lead a very busy lifestyle: I go out to work, I run my own business, I have family commitments including school and PTA volunteering, I’m the trustee of a local diabetes-related charity, I blog, I write books. Sometimes the only way I can come close to doing everything I need to do is to cut down on my sleep.
Who Needs Sleep Anyway?
Unfortunately, I’m no Margaret Thatcher. No, hang on, make that fortunately. What I mean is, I need more than the four hours of sleep per night on which our former Prime Minister governed the country. (Well, that explains a lot.) To be fully functional, I need at least 8 hours in winter and 7 hours in summer. Don’t ask me why there’s a difference but there very definitely is. When sleep-deprived, I do everything less well/less frequently/less enthusiastically/late.
An Ingenious (Re)Solution
My theory is that if I focus on getting my full quota of sleep, everything else about me will improve. I’ll be much more likely to have the energy to cook meals from scratch instead of resorting to ready-meals. With more physical energy, I’ll be more likely to go for a run. With my wits fully about me, I’ll be more productive and focused in my work. Rising earlier, fresher, in the morning, I’ll be less likely to be late for work. Going to bed earlier, I’ll find more time to read in bed: that ‘to-read’ pile will diminish in no time.. It may seem counter-intuitive to get more done by doing nothing, i.e. sleeping, but I truly believe it could work.
So if in 2013, you see me taking forty winks at my desk or nodding off in School Assembly, please don’t wake me up. I’d hate to break my New Year’s Resolution.
Happy New Year!
What’s your attitude to New Year’s Resolutions? Do tell!