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Brianna Parkins: My list of things to give up in 2024, starting with self-improvement

Trying to ‘live your best life’ could see you wasting it getting up at 4.30am - because that’s what people with self-discipline do

The 2023 calendar is dead. Its watch has ended. The free one you got from the Chinese takeaway last year has been replaced on the kitchen wall with the novelty Daniel O’Donnell one you didn’t want but received anyway from your brother-in-law for Christmas. In fairness to wee Daniel, it has a clever layout with squares big enough to fit both “BIN NIGHT” and “WEDDING ANNIVERSARY” if they fall on the same date – two important life events that incur unpleasant consequences if forgotten.

We are looking at 2024 through the keyhole, trying to size it up before we let it in. For some, 2023 was the best year of their lives – they’ve made social media “highlights” videos of all the good times set to a Dua Lipa song. Others couldn’t wait to see the back of an annus horribilis, hoping that their tough times would ameliorate into confetti on January 1st at 12.01am.

Influencers blessed to be able to afford the mortgages on their sterile grey mansions without the stress of working a 9-5 job are fond of telling us to use the new year to “let go of things which do not serve us”. This is good advice in theory but would, in many cases, result in mass unemployment, families not speaking to each other, unpaid parking fines, mobile phones being thrown out the window of moving cars and children being dumped on their grandparents.

Sadly, we do have to hold on to some things we feel don’t “serve” us – like paying motor tax – because the law sadly does not have a “thriving not surviving in 2024″ defence for these matters.


But I do have some reasonable suggestions of things we could leave behind in the dust of 2023 that hopefully wouldn’t result in a court appearance.


We bought all the books. We listened to the TED Talks and the podcasts. We followed the workout programme. We are thinking fast and slow, we are making atomic habits, we are winning friends and influencing people. We are analysing ourselves into the ground, and determining we could live the life we always dreamed of if only we would get rid of the things holding us back. We are working on our procrastination, time management, people pleasing, boundary setting, codependency and sugar addiction. We are watching hours of YouTube and TikTok content from creators who “hacked” their life and encourage people to get up at 4.30 in the morning because that’s what people with self-discipline do, (when actually people with self-discipline don’t harp on about how great they are on the internet or make strangers feel bad for having a normal circadian rhythm).

I suspect the constant pressure to “live our best lives” is actively making them worse. We feel shamed for not having a “morning routine” that doesn’t start with 30 minutes of journaling, when in reality, having a morning routine that gets everyone in the house fed, shoved into warm clothing and alive in the car on the way to school is achievement enough. If my best self has to get up while it’s still dark, do a form of exercise I hate followed by hours of unpaid work for an employer before 9am while engaging in blatant sociopathic networking “to get ahead”, then I’ll choose to be my worst self, thanks.

Landlords, if you want renters to fork out more than €2,000 for a boxy apartment near the city, at least have the decency to get rid of that sticky black leather sofa

Improving your mental health, relationships and relationships with substances by seeking professional help should always be encouraged. I’m talking about things that fall under the advice of the airport bookshop paperback that people working for consultancy firms pretend to have read and post about on their LinkedIn.

If you enjoy reading these and getting up at sparrow’s fart to lift heavy things and put them back down again, work away. But what if you accepted yourself for the piece of inefficient garbage you are today as enough? Would your day and mind free up from all the “should be doings/thinkings” weighing it down? Maybe your life is together enough, and you could enjoy it if you stopped thinking about ways to constantly improve because you are a human, not a copy of the end-of-quarter results?

Landlord chic

If you want renters to fork out more than €2,000 for a boxy apartment near the city, at least have the decency to get rid of that sticky black leather sofa that outlived Anglo Irish Bank. Don’t take that amount of money off us while showing us a bed with no headboard and mismatched pine set of drawers with a straight face; that’s just cruel and inexcusable in this day and age of Ikea delivery.

Cafes and restaurants that only have stools

If customers are spending their hard-earned money in your establishment, then they deserve to have their backs supported by a chair.

Thin paper shopping bags

We live in a country of constant rain and fear of our new Penneys underwear falling through the bottom of the disintegrating bag on to the floor of the bus in front of everyone. I know they’re better for the environment, but there has to be another way.

In the end, 2024 might be your year or it might not, but either way, don’t waste it trying to become the best version of yourself.