I seem to have got into the habit of posting my New Year’s Resolutions on this blog. As I showed at the end of last year, this kind of public display of hope over experience does not necessarily pay off. So I post these resolutions with no promise that I will keep to them. But, if I don’t set myself some new goals, I fear that it will be very easy to drift through the next few months without a lot of purpose.
So here goes…
Find a new focus for the new normal
Over the last year I’ve found it really difficult to focus on big new projects. For me Covid has been ten months of clicking refresh on Twitter and The Guardian website. Everyday has brought fresh crises and I’ve felt that my only realistic response has been to be highly reactive. I’ve often felt that I have a lot of ideas about what should happen tomorrow or next month, but I’ve also often felt that it is difficult to think further ahead. The kind of stuff that I normally talk about (how do careers work? how should career guidance be organised? what should be happening in the early career labour market?) has all felt very contingent on the crisis. Talking about how things do, or should work, has been impossible to separate from the rapidly changing situation with the virus.
At the moment nothing much has really changed. The speed at which the crisis is unfolding is not slowing down. As I write this (on Saturday) the debate is raging about whether teachers will re-enter schools on Monday. In such a situation what should I research? How can I think about strategy or the future?
But, I also think that after 10 months I’m starting to acclimatise to the new situation. I need to push on and do something more farsighted, strategic and substantial. Part of this is extracting myself from endless Zoom meetings and learning to say no much more. This is not saying that there isn’t a need to stay involved in the rough and tumble of reacting to the situation. A lot is still happening day to day that I want to be involved in. But, I also want to try and lift my gaze and think a bit bigger.
What it is that I’m going to focus on is still not clear to me. Will it be a book, a website, a podcast or something else? Watch this space! But, it is going to be something. I’m not going to let another year drift by firing off exasperated tweets at Gavin Williamson.
Keep trying to learn a language
Last year I set myself a New Year’s Resolution of learning Norwegian. This was something that I singularly failed to do over 2020. But, on the other hand, I didn’t completely give up on it either. I’ve seen that 10 minutes a day will take me an inch or so nearer this goal. So I really need to ramp it up this year. I want to spend more time learning Norwegian, maybe get a tutor, and as soon as the opportunity allows, get back to the fjords!
Til neste år skriver jeg kanskje denne bloggen på norsk!
Live the best social and cultural life possible in the circumstances
I got through a lot of 2020 by throwing myself into endless hobbies, crazes and activities. Sourdough breadmaking, jams, homebrewing, running challenges, guitar playing and so on. This stuff was generally pretty good for me. If you are interested in my oddball, boring, cultural and social life then follow me on Instagram for what you might laughingly call the highlights.
I’m happy to carry on with a lot of this stuff, but I do want to try and find some more time in my life for reading, watching movies and listening to albums. Binging Netflix boxed sets is all very well, but I feel that I may have over-eaten that particular delicacy (although check out Better Things, Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope and 45rpm if you are looking for something to start the new year with). So next year I’m going to try and be more purposeful, read more and spend time on culture, rather than just endlessly jabbing at my phone for hours on end.
In part this is heeding Katherine Arbuthnott’s advice to make New Year’s Resolutions more short term this year as it is so difficult to plan for the long term. But, it is also a sense that lockdown and socially distanced life might last longer than any of us hope. I would love to have New Year’s Resolutions about eating out, travelling and visiting friends, but… I suspect that we are still a long way away from that.
So in the meantime I can read, enjoy music, turn off the phone and be more careful about my TV watching. It won’t be easy but I’ll try.
No set of New Year’s Resolutions would be complete without promising myself that I’ll get healthier. Eat less, exercise more, drink less alcohol, drink more water. It is a time honored tradition. And just as predicted I spent New Year drinking ALL the drinks, yesterday laying around and then today going to the outdoor gym and preparing vegetable soup. Cliché much?
But, as I said last year, I have also managed to inch my way towards a slightly healthier lifestyle over the last few years. Age is catching up with me and increasing my fear of the consequences of hedonism.
So, we’ll see. I may be running marathons by the end of the year and chomping on celery as my snack of choice. Or maybe not… but it is worth a try.
So these are my resolutions for 2021. Hopefully realistic. Hopefully useful. We’ll see how they go.