Photo credit: imamsonline.com
November. In the wake of unrelenting torrential downpour, unreasonable stacks of reading, an insufficient student loan, seemingly unresolvable housing disputes, ominous deadlines and a touch of self-diagnosed seasonal affective disorder, we succumb to a plethora of temptations in attempt to console our winter blues. Late nights spent watching Netflix, Sparknotes assisted seminar preparation, a questionably inserted critic thanks to Google Books, subconscious consumption of a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and the realisation you’ve worn the same outfit four days running… It’s fair to say come November, we “let ourselves go”, so to speak.
Photo credit: AP Photo/Universal Pictures
But alas, fast-forward six weeks to 1st January 2015. New Year. Fresh start. Clean slate. The perfect opportunity to take stern resolve against all of the inadmissible habits that have layered up as we’ve slumped into the second half of term and cinematic chaos of Christmas. You know that as of January, you’ll swap citethisforme for learning to reference properly, disconnect your WiFi and actually read the book, recalculate your hours spent in lectures vs. hours spent thinking about whether-or-not-to go-to-lectures, start using the slow-cooker to make healthy stews and soups, and porridge to wake up to (yes, that means getting up earlier) before your 9AMs, attend the society you’re currently subsidising from your couch… after all, New Year is all about resolutions and this year is going to be your year.
Quit kidding yourself.
New Year brings it’s own set of problems.
- News flash: New Year Resolutions tend not to work.
- Once we think about changing our habits in the future, they tend to get worse now. (I call this “last supper logic”)
There is certainly something ego-adorningly satisfactory about musing on how virtuous we will be in a few weeks’ time. In a strange way, we idolise our future self: picture that person collecting the first-class assignment, carrying around portions of chia/pumpkin/sunflower/can’t-even-pronounce-this-one seeds to whip out when the cookie dough brownies in DH1 beckon, attending mock-interviews and open lectures, attending BodyBlast over lunch-break, booking into our tutor’s office hours and re-listening to lecture recordings on the bus. “That’s ME”, we assert so boldly for a moment it seems entirely conceivable.
However there is no Future-Me nor a Future-You – we live in the here and now and if we want to change, we must do so now.
The moment you glumly accept that the gifts of will-power, discipline, evangelism, punctuality and altogether personality-overhaul will not be delivered to the stocking at the end of your bed this year, not only do you enter into the New Year with a fully-functioning organ of reason, you suddenly realise the flaw in “last supper logic” (the idea that you should make the most of this precious time to gorge yourself on the paradoxical comfort of bad habits, because you’ll almost certainly never behave badly again.)
Now I’m not saying resign to a life of virtue just as the party season gets underway: if you wish, spend the rest of your budget on a Safer Sex Ball ticket, overpriced Costa Christmas speciality drinks, a Santa Baby outfit and three consecutive three bird roasts to have yourself a Merry little Christmas, let your heart be light. Just don’t go kidding yourself that from now on our troubles will be out of sight. New Year may be just around the corner, but what you do now, counts.
Emma has written several articles in her Think Twice series.