In 2012, my New Year's Resolution was to 'Put more effort into Costume Parties.'
I thought it was great. Achievable. Realistic. And somehow symbolically important to me. I wanted to be that kind of person, over-investing in trivial novelties. Rather than the guy who throws it together at the last minute because it's just not that important...
But somehow 2012 wasn't a big year for costume parties. I don't think I went to any at all. So, not wanting to waste a great resolution, I used it again for 2013. Renewed resolution. Second chance.
2013 finally turned up a party with the theme 'video games' - I had my chance. I was going to cash in on the promise. Crash Bandicoot, Carmen Sandiego, Lara Croft - I started weighing up my options.
But in an incredibly unsurprising twist, I got really busy and I prepared nothing. I felt very emotional on the night of the party, digging through my wardrobe, trying to improvise and making everyone late. I stuck some Epson printer labels and a helium balloon on a black T-shirt and went as 'Pong'. It was alright. But I knew that I'd failed.
And that's really the problem with resolutions. They set you up to fail. It's just a part of the process to know that by May you'll be rolling your eyes and shrugging it off. No matter what the promise, it always gets made with a champagney optimism. Too much for the sobriety of a working year to keep up with.
So I did something different last year. On December 31st 2015, rather than just making a promise to myself, I took an immediate action. I deleted facebook off my phone.
I had been considering 'cutting back on social media' or 'spending less time on the newsfeed' as resolutions. But by that point I had lost all faith in future-me's ability to follow through, so the whole thing just felt futile. Instead, I came up with one bold thing that present-me could do to make a difference. I deleted the app.
I liked this approach to the NYE tradition, so I've been thinking of what to do on Dec 31st this year. At this stage, I think I'm going to buy a subscription to The New Yorker. I'm conscious that I want to read more (especially paper, not screens). This is perhaps a practical way for the present to affect the future.
Of course there is a caveat though. Deleting the facebook app made a huge difference to changing my social media habits, but it wasn't bullet-proof. I would still spend time facebooking on a laptop, and towards the end of the year I started logging in to the browser on my phone... This is a pretty dodgy shortcut of course, but I still maintain that not having the app has cut down significantly on mindless scrolling (not to mention the notification purge)!
In 2017, I can receive regular magazines by mail - but that's not going to mean I'll definitely read them. I just have to trust that taking one step immediately makes the change more likely.
In the meantime, please invite me to your costume parties. I've got a point to prove now...