Trying to turn yourself into Mr or Ms Perfect? Try this instead
Don’t beat yourself up over failed New Year resolutions. Try a different approach
Are you busily making resolutions to turn yourself into somebody you are not, namely Mr or Ms Perfect? Photograph: iStock
I often tell myself to “practise what you preach” but my brain recently, without warning, changed the injunction to “preach what you practise.”
This cuts out a lot of self-recrimination, especially when it comes to failed New Year resolutions.
Are you busily making resolutions to turn yourself into somebody you are not, namely Mr or Ms Perfect? Try my approach instead. Here are helpful examples of what I might use if I was talking to myself in a mirror:
Set out on a total health makeover and then forget about it.
First, you are going to need to buy one of those watches that tell you how many steps you take in a day. Set a target of 10,000. Join a Pilates or yoga class like you’ve always said you would. Increase your intake of fibre, porridge, kale and quinoa. Eat dark chocolate. After you’ve had enough of this, you may allow yourself a mega burger with hand hewn chips drenched in olive oil. On other evenings, fresh cod and chips with two spice burgers will give you (some) omega 3. Walk to the chipper. That way you get in your steps.
Spend many hours looking at productivity apps or products but don’t bother implementing them.
The internet is crammed with software and services that will transform you from shameful sloth to task ninja. Reading about these is great fun and so is downloading the trial versions. You will find you don’t actually have the time to figure out how to use these, so they will remain in the downloads folder. Best to leave them there: if you try, in a fit of efficiency, to delete them all you will just start trying them out and you will be lost.
Resolve to use your money wisely to ensure a well-cushioned future, then spend it on a holiday.
Strictly speaking, if you started out with a few hundred euros, invested them wisely and kept on investing the proceeds wisely, you would eventually end up wealthy as well as wise. A good start is to read the excellent personal finance columns of the Irish Times. If you’re unclear about the tax implications of the money you are going to make, Dominic Coyle’s articles will set you straight. Start off by reading the personal finance columns for a few days but before you begin actual saving, take a much-deserved break in Tenerife or Lanzarote. You can get quite good deals in January. This will use up your investment fund but did you really want to become a rich old git shivering in the cold, afraid to do anything except invest wisely, while his children impatiently await his passing so they can get their hands on the money?
This is the year to become more assertive but not so as anybody would notice.
Next time you are very annoyed by somebody, especially somebody with more authority than you have, think furiously about it for ages and then do nothing. To enrich this experience, run scenarios in your head of you confronting this person, perhaps in front of an admiring audience, before you leave them floored with a cutting remark. When you next meet them in the flesh, greet them like a long-lost friend and say absolutely nothing about your grievance.
Embrace procrastination and always finish projects at the last minute.
This applies especially to projects you could have started ages ago, which would have enabled you to bring them to harbour with the greatest of ease. Allow tension to build up over a period of time as you contemplate the project before turning to the Simplex crossword. Eventually, as the deadline looms like a distant elephant that has suddenly become very near, large and scary, you may get to work. An important part of this process is to promise yourself sincerely that you will never allow anything like this to happen again. You’ve already made a start on next year’s resolutions.
Padraig O’Morain (firstname.lastname@example.org) is accredited by the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. His latest book is Mindfulness for Worriers. His daily mindfulness reminder is free by email.