Where to begin? Hmmmm.
Let’s see if Religion can help.
Now, God’s a bit hands-on, but whatever floats your boat. Some of His suggestions may be of interest. Then again, Christianity is probably a bit retro, a bit 2010. Bear it in mind, by all means, but as one of a selection of different spiritualities. Keep your options open. That Sermon on the Mount stuff for example. Basic common sense – wash your hands before meals, pick up your litter, that kind of thing. (I don’t need to warn you that the Bible is hopelessly outdated. Not only does it treats us like we’re in need of special help – it’s achingly consistent. Surely no-one’s actually read it. A great rule is to do what you think it should say). Women’s magazines on the other hand, offer a wealth of spiritual insight. Something reassuringly shallow but contradictory enough to keep you guessing. Now that’s what I call worldly wisdom.
So, let’s go back to basics. New year, new gospel!
First, pick your targets.
A couple of rules for the novice;
1. Resolutions must be self-focused. ‘I’m going to…’ is an excellent start. Any changes must begin and end with you. Oh, and your incredible will power. Get this right and everything else falls into place. What you’re actually changing, is irrelevant.
So, here’s a peach – ‘This year, I’m going to be better’. Better than who, you may ask? Ronald MacDonald? Genghis Khan? Percy Pig? Here’s the beauty – it doesn’t even matter!
2. As in life, appearance is all – so stick to what is important: externals only. If you must attempt internal changes, then at least make them arbitrary. Don’t plan to go for a walk once a week. Instead, ‘Get Fit’. Don’t pray about managing your temper or focus upon the majesty and beauty of Jesus. Resolve to ‘Be Nice’. Choose areas in which you have failed in the past and tell yourself, you must try harder.
3. This leads neatly into the most important consideration of all. Said resolutions must be completely and utterly unachievable. Remember, the goal is to set yourself a series of impossible, pointless and unrealistic tasks, each more fiendish than the last.
4. Given that success is measured by how unhappy you are making yourself and everyone else, the next step is to publicise your endeavours. Ideally you should place a two-page ad in a national newspaper, highlighting your plans to start flossing and promising to keep readers informed of all developments. Tweet your progress and remember, no detail is too small.
5. Share the pain. If for example, you’re committed to dental health, then whilst sipping your (decaf) coffee with friends, take the opportunity to remind them of how well you’re doing. ‘No lemon cake for me thanks. I’m watching my molars’, should suffice. Insist that they eat yours (by force, if necessary) and watch accusingly, until they start to choke. (You can speed up the process with the judicious application of barbed advice. ‘Susan, it’s remarkable how relaxed you are about displaying your own canines. I admire your courage’, etc). If they prove sufficiently repentant, perform the Heimlich Manoeuver. Otherwise, move on.
6. Now, look after your resolution. Nurture it. Feed it. Think of your creation as a thirsty little Christmas pud that needs regular watering with a suitable anti-Spirit. (I’d recommend ‘Lady’s Pride’ – a neat mixture of self-hatred and self-regard, widely available). Alternate the phrases – ‘You’re pathetic, now pull your socks up and try harder’ with ”it’s not your fault. No-one else is suffering like this’.
7. Keep your focus.
Remember why you are suffering…
It’s because The Date has changed.
Motivation doesn’t get bigger than this.
Now that you’ve set yourself up for failure, sit back and await the inevitable. If all goes according to plan, you are but days away from a truly spectacular blow-out. An angry ball of self-hatred or a miasma of self-pity; the choice is yours. Or why settle for less? Go for broke and have ’em both.
Your options now are as plentiful as your excuses. If you’re watching your cholesterol, now’s the time to eat your body weight in marshmallows and sweaty cheese. If you’re an ex-smoker, why not cover every available patch of skin with Nicorette and break open the Gauloises. Resolve never to be parted from the sofa. Throw out the bread-maker. Men, cultivate your moobs, (this is the year of The Heveage). Women, plait your leg hairs, (it’s winter and fuel is expensive). Having saved £5 by existing on rice and cheese, blow at least £75 on something you’ve already got. Repeat after me, ‘it’s in the Sales’. And if in doubt, buy three. Every household needs an extra strawberry dehuller.
Finally, learn the lessons of the past. What have these resolutions taught you? Trying to change yourself is a waste of time. May as well go back to the person you were, secure in the knowledge you’ve earned it. You might not have succeeded as well as you’d hoped, but hey, you’re a lot better others. That Percy, for starters. He’s a pig.
2011 is the year to keep focusing on yourself. Set your own agenda. Don’t be distracted by the concerns of others, no matter how pressing. And whatever happens, however tempting, don’t bring your heart before the Lord. Such action will prove fatal to any attempts at self-justification. And none of us wants that. Cheers!