‘I’m giving up smoking this year,’ I told my friends on January 1. This could be the 10th year running I’ve made this resolution. In the past I’ve tried everything, from hypnotism (holding back the laughter as some kook tells me I’m feeling sleepy) to self-help books (they’re called self-help books because the author has just helped themselves to Dhs60 from your pocket). I’ve come to the conclusion that January is just not the month for change and New Year’s resolutions will fall flat on their faces at every hurdle.
My best friend, for example, vows to lose weight this year. Now call me insensitive, but she’s gone up and down by about three kilos ever since I’ve known her (15 years). I love her anyway, but she still gobbles cheese like Dubai is outlawing dairy products. My cousin, on the other hand, has a slight addiction to shopping. She plans to get out of debt this year once and for all. And rightly so – I tell her this on a regular basis, and it’s become something of a bone of contention between us. We both know the plastic I’ve surreptitiously hidden will magically appear when she walks past the Debenhams sales aisles this week, and I’ll be lending her (or giving her) Dhs100 for her round.
Why we feel the need to make these ludicrous promises on January 1, I’ll never know. This is the month where we are feeling fatter, poorer and more miserable than ever. At the turn of a new year we are forced to reckon with the fact we’re getting older; it’s cold(er); and, statistically, it’s the month with the highest relationship break-up rate (probably because everybody is torturing their partners with nicotine and chocolate withdrawal anger).
A week in, I propose you ignore all the good advice in this week’s issue and save yourself the anguish by boycotting monotonous resolutions. Join me in making fun vows instead: ones we’re likely to stick to, which will not pick on our bad points, but enrich our lives in other ways. I’ve always wanted to learn kiteboarding, for example. ‘What’s your New Year’s resolution?’ people will ask. ‘To learn how to be pulled along on a board in the sea by a power kite.’ It sounds far more appealing than ‘I’m going on a diet, where I can only eat sardines, celery and eggs, where my face will turn yellow and my breath will smell like dead goats.’ Why, why, why do we do it to ourselves?