A simple start to the New Year

A simpler way to start the New Year with a to-do list instead of big deep resolutions. Read more on my blog, Our Story Time www.ourstorytime.co.uk

Even though a cynic might say that today doesn’t feel all that dissimilar to two days ago, I like to believe it does. The clock has ticked over once more and with it comes the chance to start afresh. I like this feeling. I have always liked it. It reminds me of clean sheets and new pyjamas and aired-out bedrooms and mopped floors. It reminds me of the crispness of starting a school year; the excitement, the anticipation, the new stationery. The hopefulness. Or, rather, the ritual of hopefulness.

As we normally do as we approach the end of each year, Richard and I took some time over December to take stock of the year gone by. We don’t call it a stock-take of course and there is nothing scheduled about it. It’s just us curling up on the sofa - him with his laptop (he writes everything there), me with my pencil and notebook (I am still longhand, still so offline in many ways). When we do this, we share the things we’d like to do differently or better or not at all anymore. We make plans and promises and it feels good to hold ourselves to something, to each other. It feels good to know we have a chance to make a change in a positive way.

While taking stock I looked over the resolutions I wrote down last year. I realised that I didn’t see half of those resolutions through because, well, things changed and also, the resolutions I wrote down at the start of 2018 were open-ended and introspective. They were far too vague and impossible to quantify - probably a reflection of where I was this time last year when I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. So as the year went by, my plans shifted and some of those resolutions I had originally made grew dusty and old; irrelevant. Truth be told, I had forgotten about many of them.

Now, I know that resolutions aren’t for everyone. I know some people find the notion silly, pointless and unoriginal. But I still hold onto the hope of them. Rather than be defeated by failing to live up to the resolutions I made last year, I’ve been given a good nudge to try again and also, to try differently.

This year, I see my resolutions as less serious, less rigid expectations of myself and more like a to-do list of little simple and practical things for the year - a list I can add to and satisfyingly tick off as I work my way through. I may try to do more yoga and drink less tea, for instance; or I may finally clear out the cupboard behind our bedroom door. Perhaps we’ll also get around to putting up sturdy hooks in the boys’ bedroom so that we don’t have another year of backpacks being flung on the floor (we may live in hope!). If we choose to read between the lines, there’s meaning beyond the simplest of practical tasks too: there’s clarity, there’s space for oneself, there’s air and lightness and room to breathe. There is hope.

And that, I believe, is the point of resolutions: that we may all live in hope of something, no matter how small. For me, a simple to-do list for the New Year shall make the most difference to how I feel about myself and my home, more so than vast, sweeping statements of never-ending soul-searching. In thinking about the New Year I am reminded that the act of betterment, too, can be simple and that as with most things, it is in simplicity that there is often the most meaning.