Two thousand and seventeen is a party away.
Enjoy those final few cigarettes, that last packet of Tim Tams, that extra glass of wine, those lazy hours on the couch. Revel in slouching, swearing, picking your nose and ignoring that old lady who needs help crossing the street. Behold the sum total of the vices your New Year's resolutions will grab by the throat, tear limb from limb and consign to the bad habits of history.
For a day or two.
I asked a friend what her New Year's resolution would be.
"Oh, the usual," she replied, shrugging her shoulders.
Research has shown that 1 in 2 people break their New Year's resolutions before their New Year's Eve party hangovers have abated; while a mere 22.6 percent manage to keep their new leaf turned over for a full month*.
Apart from the gloating glitterati on the covers of women's magazines, most of us would like to be fitter, leaner, richer, healthier, happier, sexier, Cloonier... But most of us aren't. So, at the end of another undisciplined year, we convince ourselves we can alter those errant parts of our behaviour that keep us off those magazine covers.
It's as simple as the calendar ticking over.
Not surprisingly, the most common New Year's resolutions involve eating less and exercising more. During the glutinous Christmas break, most of us munch a mince pie too many and wish to atone for our sins. This is why smart gymnasiums open on New Year's Day.
Other common resolutions include:
1) To be more financially-savvy
2) To read at least one book a month -- (presumably borrowed from a library if you're trying to stick to resolution number 1)
3) To eat properly
4) To get enough sleep
5) To keep a journal of awesome moments
Some people might argue that saving, sleeping, eating well and visiting libraries will make the awesome moments few and far between, but it's nice to see people getting back to basics.
Time Magazine's list of the top 10 broken resolutions include spending more time with family and being less stressed. It doesn't say if doing the former is the reason for breaking the latter.
My New Year's resolution was chosen for me by my neighbour's Nintendo. After the birth of my second child, I've become so time-poor that the concept of exercise has become as estranged to me as the concept of sleep. So I have started to pay more attention to the pearls of practical wisdom in three-year-old magazines in the waiting rooms of doctors' surgeries.
I saw one which suggested seizing the exercise opportunities in an otherwise busy day by doing such things as putting your shoes on standing up, marching on the spot during television ad breaks, and drying yourself more vigorously after a swim or shower.
Picture the improbable scene: Two friends catching up for coffee. One big, the other small. (The friends, not the coffee.)
Friend A: "Wow, you look fantastic! Check out those abs. What's your secret?"
Friend B: "I have been drying myself more vigorously."
Another magazine set the course of feminism back about 50 years with one of its exercise tips:
"Set up your ironing board in front of the television. Not only does ironing burn up to 150 calories an hour, keeping your hands busy will prevent idle snacking."
My eyes bulged and my jaw dropped when I read this, which I think that magazine might count as exercise.
I wasn't confident that putting my shoes on standing up, turbo-towelling down or ironing in front of the telly would dislodge the unwelcome calories that have congregated around my middle-aged midriff. But I needed to find a way to snatch exercise at home with my kids around, other than running around tidying up after them.
When my neighbour suggested I needed a Wii I told her emptying my bladder would mean only a temporary loss of weight. After rolling her eyes at my Dad Joke, she ran home and returned with what looked like a set of scales which she connected to the television. Wife and kids cheering me on, I did the interactive health check and was told I was overweight.
Wife and kids stopped cheering.
When I learnt the price of a Wii I opted for a workout DVD featuring a blonde celebrity with New Year's resolutions different from mine. She somehow managed to smile while performing a dozen strenuous exercises that I roughly imitated - sans smile - with the help of the pause button.
Then I had a shower and dried myself as though I'd caught fire. I'm wearing out my towel. At least it's losing weight.
Happy New Year. May your journals be full of awesome moments.
*I made those figures up, but we all know New Year's resolutions were made to be broken.
A version of this blog first appeared on December 31, 2015.Suggest a correction