Every Sunday, I sit on my favourite armchair for approximately seven minutes (an unscientific average) and feel truly excited and inspired by the possibilities within my grasp. There’s a reason why this happens. I have flicked through my favourite sections of the Sunday papers for those seven minutes, made a mental reminder to return to my favourite parts of those sections, noted anything new or surprising that should get my full attention later, become unnecessarily lost in new fashion trends, and then I put it all down, knowing that other things require my immediate attention: usually work deadlines, grocery shopping and breakfast. Yet, as I set about those tasks, the nuggets of culture and indulgence I glimpsed for those few minutes remain snapping, crackling and popping in my head, filling me full of optimism and belief – a personal, silent thrill of assurance that everything I used to think was inevitable and just around the corner in life really are there for the taking.
Then work starts, each line of it pricking my enthusiasm with its own individual fishing hook, until my soul is perforated and dragged down, and my optimism bleeds and flows, halal-style, into the gutter of drudgery. Sunday morning begins as the tremulous launch pad of impending greatness, but soon darkens and creeps into Sunday afternoon, which begins as the precipice beyond which lies the piercing stalagmites of Monday and the soul-sapping, inspiration-dampening week ahead.
It’s a little bit like New Year’s resolutions: the gusto and bluster of those inebriated self-promises generally withers and dies within a few seconds’ exposure to reality, routine and the supermarket crisp aisle.
So, in 2014, I’m going to set myself some better, more realistic goals. Healthier, happier, more fulfilled. That’ll be me.
Here we are, then:
1. Reorganise my weekends
I’m going to read the Sunday papers, then, rather than just going to work, I’m going to work on bottling that enthusiasm into something useful, even if it’s for ten minutes while battering it all into a blog post. Actually, I’m going to work on having no work to do at weekends too. I’m going to take the family and the dog out on adventures instead. God knows, that’ll make weekends more precious and Mondays less excruciating.
2. Sleep more
I’m already doing this, especially given that I’ve just recovered from my annual bout of some horrific bug. I don’t know whether it’s the bug or the increase in shut-eye, but I currently look as haggard as I can remember. Or is that just called ‘being almost 45’?
3. Eat less
This is easy enough. My diet is good already but that’s my excuse for too much. Cut all crap. Eat less fruit and more veg. Cut down the portions, which always seem to creep up when cooking while starving. I can easily and happily live on a bowl of porridge (made with water), a good handful of raw nuts, three clementines and an apple until dinner time. My dinners will be full of greens, pulses and minimal starch. That’s easy too. I did it all year in 2013, except for holidays… and December, which was a seething mass of starch, stodge and shit.
4. Write more
I shouldn’t have to do this, since I write every day anyway (it’s my job, you see), but the quality and quantity of my output needs to improve by some considerable distance. All those stories I thought up last year – it’s about time I wrote them all out, properly, and finished several things even by the end of this very month. I have a writing schedule written out and everything. Now, just bloody stick to it.
5. Watch less television
This is a harder one but I’m convinced it’s easy enough. Look, there are the unmissables (Doctor Who, Sherlock, anything foreign on BBC4), then there are the family Saturday pizza-night favourites (Strictly, er, The Voice) and Monday’s edition of University Challenge. That’s it. I don’t need to while the afternoons away watching reruns of Cagney and Lacey or Allo Allo. I really don’t. There’s work to do.
6. Read more books
This is a must. I never caught up on purchases and presents last year and I am missing out on that most traditional and relaxing of pure pleasures. Plus, reading more will mean writing more.
7. Stay off the internet
Hard one to stick to, especially while writing on a weblog, but, of course, I mean the habitual staring into screen-space that has become the worst current human ‘social’ trait. Actually, I’m getting better at this anyway but the old habit is still there, tapping me on the shoulder and forcing my attention span. However, I’m on top of it. Say hello, spread a little happiness, share a joke and a song, by all means; but, for God’s sake, if you’re in your mid-40s, stop looking like those blank-faced teenage drones on the bus. Just stop it. You look like an arsehole.
Right, I’m getting off the internet. Now.
Sic itur ad astra.