As another year is set to begin, all attention is drawn to the past 12 months, and what lies ahead. Whether we look back with fondness, cringe at our decisions, smile at the successes we had, or mourn lost opportunities, society tells us it doesn’t matter because as soon as the clock strikes midnight on the 1st January, we become eternal optimists about the future. This is our chance to try again, and to try harder. But change can happen at any point, whether it’s the beginning of the year, the start of a new week, or slap bang in the middle of the month of April. The ability to do all these things we want to do doesn’t reset at the start of a calendar year.
I’m all for reflection, setting goals, and working on ourselves, but there seems to be more pressure these days to assess our achievements against the milestones society sets us. House ownership, relationships, children, and marriage to name a few. In this case, bigger is (wrongly) regarded as better as we attempt to put down on paper what the hell we’ve been doing for the last 12 months.
We’re a generation obsessed with the superlative, as we filter out the fluff in an attempt to depict our lives as nothing short of perfect. There seems to be no room for “It was a great experience, but it could have been better.” We judge our years on what milestones we hit and how they compare to what others are doing, using them as a unit of measurement on whether we managed to get enough points to deem this year a good one. The last few days of each year turn Instagram and Facebook into a battlefield of who did what and when, but most importantly, who did it better. Not only is that terribly damaging, but it’s incredibly false too. It’s hard to believe those who claim to have had “the best year ever” simply because it’s so rare to go through 12 months without a hiccup.
Writing a list of all the things I’ve achieved this year (the big and the small) indicated what I really value in life. “I removed toxic people from my life who’ve made me miserable” sits proudly alongside “I became a homeowner” and “I learned that paper bag waist skirts or trousers do nothing for my figure.” And whilst it’s naive to think we can hit the big milestones every single year, I’m hoping that my 2018 is as varied and successful as 2017, even if those successes are the ones that leave me in the knowledge of what does suit my body shape, or include a handful of new recipes to add to my repertoire. Talking of which, I’ve scrapped the idea of New Year’s resolutions again, and instead, I’m going for to-do lists. Lists of books I want to read, events I want to attend, new cities I want to visit, things I want to do for my career, and new things I want to try. There’s less pressure that way, and isn’t the entire point of life, to have fun?
I hope you measure your successes by your own to-do list and the things you want to do, rather than what society tells you to do. That’s the guaranteed way to have a successful year.