I don't mean to be pessimistic. Really, I don't. I just. I’ve been there, is all. Do you really think you're going to get to April and still be gulping down a fresh fruit smoothie every morning? Do you think you'll still be making it to that HIIT class twice a week come June? Are you sure you don’t enjoy Coco Pops and, like, judging people on Dinner Date a bit too much for that?
New Year's Resolutions, of course, work for some people. Humans love narrative, and therefore we love the idea that a new year brings a clean slate and the opportunity to self-improve. This is why your smug work friend keeps smiling at you maniacally over tupperwares of too-thick dal about how their weekend meal prep is saving them "tons", which they're putting towards their "Australia fund". But you, my friend. You are different.
You could not be described as "perky" or a "go-getter". You like the idea of being a "better version of yourself" (whatever your conception of that is), but you're also a bit set in your ways. And to be honest, you like your ways. You like smoking 20 fags in one go; you like going to the pub on a Monday night; you do not like the gym. But you want to at least try, so you resolved to do something when the clock struck 00:00 on the 1st of January: goodbye, rubbish old self; HELLO shiny, box-fresh self who does mindfulness and only goes to McDonald’s on the weekend.
It might last; it probably won’t. As someone who has both kept resolutions ("Maybe stop eating meat??") and broken them ("Be a nicer person!") I've done some mathematical calculations, and based on cold, hard stats (but mostly my own opinions), I've worked out precisely how long some of the most common resolutions get kept for. Spoiler alert: it's not very long!
I’ve never done Dry January, but I get it. You got simply too pissed during the festive period (like, absolutely properly fucked it on Christmas Eve, doing sambucas with people from school you haven’t seen since this time last year; so pissed that the next day you opened your presents with a wet flannel on your head and furtively vomited up your turkey). You need a break to re-centre yourself or whatever the fuck. I understand.
The good news is that Dry January is mostly a successful resolution – according to stats published in December of 2016, 63 percent of people make it through DryJan without turning to the sauce. Call me cynical, but I think this is probably because it only lasts for one month? It's (mostly) not really about making any sort of long-term change in your lifestyle, and you can see the end – and the ten pints you'll consume in one night when it's over – in sight.
Amount of time it takes for "Dry January" to fail: To be fair, you might manage it, but you very much might also get bored of lime and soda and listening to your mates’ pub chat ("Which would win in a fight – a hoover or a broom?"), which, in the cold light of sobriety, is the biggest load of shit you’ve ever heard.
Getting More Sleep
You have downloaded a sleep app. You have bought lavender pillow spray. You are drinking valerian root tea. You have invested in a hot water bottle. You are sleep incarnate. You are zen itself. You are floating on a cloud of dreams and tumbling into–– wait, what’s that? Ah yes, of course: YOU ARE BEING UNCEREMONIOUSLY WOKEN UP FOR THE THIRD TIME THIS WEEK BY YOUR FUCKING HOUSEMATE MOVING THEIR FURNITURE (THE BED??) AROUND AT 2 IN THE MORNING!!!!!
I'd wager that most people reading this live in some sort of house-share situation, because various governments and our parents famously fucked this website’s entire demographic financially. And buddy, if you live in a house share, there’s no way you’re sleeping properly. There is, statistically, at least one or two nights a week when at least one or two people you live with will roll in at least three sheets to the wind. Maybe they’ll decide they’re hungry and cook an entire bag of nuggets, clanging around the kitchen like they’re cosplaying both sides of a bar brawl.
There will also be nights when you do this, and we all know that a sleep after four pints, frankly, is no sleep at all. What I am saying is that your well-intentioned night time routine (peppermint tea, no screens for half an hour before sleep, read a book) will go to shit as soon as you get an after work invite to the pub/"u up?" text/12:04AM DM of an astrology meme, and you will be a perpetually-tired zombie forever. Accept it.
Amount of time it takes for "Getting more sleep" to fail: Ten days, give or take. No way you’ve not already admitted defeat on this one.
The news about climate change has shit you up, and you watched Cowspiracy through your fingers. You have, therefore, decided to do Veganuary. Like Dry January, the fact that this resolution is a societally recognised "thing" helps, and the statistics from 2018 say that this is actually a pretty successful one, with 82 percent of people sticking it out throughout the whole month, and a very significant 62 percent intending to stay vegan afterwards.
Recent developments in the accessibility and range of vegan food (mostly via innovations by supermarkets) probably mean that this Veganuary will be even more successful for a lot of people than last. In most large supermarkets you can now find vegan versions of all your favourite trash like nuggets and pizza, and it’s basically never been easier to eat out vegan in most high street chains.
Amount of time it takes for "Going vegan" to fail: It's so easy nowadays that you’ll probably manage it without even having to eat a lentil if you don’t want to – but equally, you do love a two piece after a night out so the jury's out, really.
Going to the Gym
The big one. Rightly or wrongly, January is the time when most people take a look at themselves and think, 'I am truly a lazy prick.' You dig out the leggings and sports bra and you sign up to a PureGym because you've got a No Joining Fee code. So it is written, so it shall be.
Out of all the possible resolutions, the gym is the most difficult one because it actually requires effort. Dry January asks you to abstain from going on the piss; Veganuary is just buying slightly different stuff than you usually would when you do the big shop. The gym, though. Going to the gym requires a lot of motivation.
Either you’re getting up at 5:30AM in order to make it to a pilates class before work, or you’re getting home at like 8:30PM after a session of doing squats while being screamed at by a brick shithouse called James, which you have paid legal tender for. Both mean you’re cutting around in the dark wearing a pair of leggings, and therefore neither is particularly ideal. This means that most people who resolve to go to the gym, shockingly enough, don’t stick at it – according to a 2015 Guardian report, only one in ten people actually go once or more per month.
Amount of time it takes for "Going to the gym" to fail: Anywhere between one to eight weeks, or until it snows.
Making lunches for work
You’re already back on the Pret, I know you are, scumbag.
Amount of time it takes for "Making lunches for work" to fail: Literally as soon as you see a Pret don’t be silly.
Giving up smoking
The thing about smoking is that it is a) addictive and b) cool. The good stuff at parties always happens in the smoking area. Stopping smoking means giving this up, or, worse, going outside and NOT smoking, and just watching other people smoke while shivering and thinking a lot about being inside and/or smoking.
For these reasons, it is very hard to quit. In 2016, three in five people who made a resolution to stop smoking had broken it by the 31st of January. This year, that number might go down a bit due to the advent of vaping, so maybe just get yourself a Juul for a bit and see how that goes? I really don’t have any better advice than that.
Amount of time it takes for "Giving up smoking" to fail: Maybe you’ll manage a month, but eventually you’ll go to a function where it’s crap inside and good outside, where everyone is smoking, and you will also smoke and that will probably be the end of it until next January, when you will repeat this woeful saga.
TL;DR – your attempts at self-betterment are largely futile and you’re probably doomed to continue on in your bad habits until you rot. Happy New Year!