• Charles

Your Memory is a Tea Cosy

New Years’ resolutions are a bit silly. To begin with, the first of January is a stupid and arbitrary date to start making new commitments. It is emphatically not a rational decision to pick a date immediately after a national holiday when your enthusiasm has already drained away because the inspiration actually came three months ago. Your energy has been siphoned off over Christmas anyway, and your money has probably all been spent.

If you want to start something, any time of the year is not only fine, but probably better than w/c 01/01. I make all kinds of resolutions all the time, but if I don’t stick to them, it’s usually because it was a stupid resolution. Or I had so many to keep that I needed an app to keep track of them. Or I was just doing it all wrong.

At some point in the last eighteen months, an idea twigged for me that changed my perspective on what dedication meant. Any resolution that you have to try to remember is inherently stupid and doomed to failure. You really do have to very honestly and deeply want to keep to it, but it is terribly difficult for the dimly lit and primitive little parts of your brain to understand this. Your prefrontal cortex can comprehend all the benefits of exercise, on an intellectual level, whilst trying to find some middle ground in an argument with a particularly disagreeable Sudoku. But without having the emotional willpower to follow it through, you might as well be asleep.

I have found two wonderful methods for keeping resolutions. One of them, sadly, is to trick myself. For example, in November I realised I wasn’t leaving myself enough time to just enjoy being outdoors. This seems stupid because I cycle everywhere, but the fact is, I cycle every journey very, very fast, and love both minutes of it. In fact, I even changed the gearing on my bike to favour of speed over efficiency. But recently, my bike has been living at my studio so that I have to walk to and from work. The leisureliness is enormously helpful to dissipate stress, especially going home.

The best method for keeping resolutions, though, is to remember why you really wanted to do those things in the first place. Which is to say, the idea has to appeal to those dim and primitive bits of you that react only to emotion. Knowing this is simply revelatory. You change your psyche, reconsider your physique and sculpture your skills around the new contours you have outlined for your future self -- the person who naturally just does those things.

Here’s something that works infallibly for me. If there is a piece of work that I am hesitant to start, I think about the last meeting I had with the client, or flick through the book that originally toppled the idea into my lap. Suddenly, the enthusiasm of taking on a difficult task returns.

Knit your brow into the shape it was in when your head was a full teapot of steaming optimism. It makes an excellent tea cosy for your inspiration.

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