downloadChances are, you’ve made a New Year’s Resolution (I’m capitalising ‘resolution’ because it makes it more tangible, rather than abstract. Abstracts are hard to attack). Chances also are, you’ve failed in your resolution to make a positive change in your life.

One of the likely reasons is that you are literally picking one of the worst times of the year to attempt to change anything. Because January is more depressing than the rise of UKIP and this picture of a sad puppy/kitten put together. It’s Winter, and Winter is awful and hateful and dreadful and Christmas is over. But also, you’re probably not doing it with the right intentions.

When I was around 16/17, for some reason I used to read Kerrang magazine most weeks, and in one winter issue, members of various mediocre bands were asked what their New Year’s Resolutions were.

Most of these people were fairly vacuous, pseudo-profound mouth-breathers. So accordingly, most of their responses were fairly dull. Things along the lines of (stupid voice) “I’m going to get deeper into my music and really try to find my spiritual self you know, and just really engage with the music” or try to be funny with “drink more, smoke more, eat more”

But one guy (a new addition to a faded early 90’s group) responded with something along the lines of “I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. If you’re going to change something about yourself, you should have a better reason than a particular date”. I don’t know whether he genuinely thought that or was simply slightly more successful at being profound, but my thinking on New Year’s Resolutions has essentially been that ever since.

If you’re going to change something about yourself, do it for an actual reason. The particular positioning of the sun and the earth as we hurtle through space and time is not a reason. Time is made up and arbitrary. When the calendar was developed, not that much consideration was given at the time to the desire of future generations to go on diets to lose a stone.

If you want to lose weight, do it because you want to feel healthier. Same applies for drinking less and quitting smoking. If you want to read more, do it because you want to think deeply about life and come to know yourself better and be a better conversationalist.

Another tip though – do it at the right time of year. Here’s a story: The amount of tea I drink can only be described as shocking. And I used to put sugar in it. Three spoonfuls, minimum. My aunts used to gawp at me. I was one of those guys who was gawped at by their aunts.

But one day I thought it might be a good idea to cut down or even stop. That was a good time of year, because it was around March/April, and summer was tangibly on the way. But something was in the way first – Easter, and preceding it, Lent.

Now, Northern Ireland (where I’m from) is a fairly Christian fundamentalist country. In fact so fundamentalist that our First Minister (Leader-type guy) actually made a public statement in support of a minister who had said that Islam was a “Satanic Creed”. AND HE GOT AWAY WITH IT.

But I digress. By that stage I had lost my faith completely. Nonetheless, that was a golden opportunity because basically everyone goes off something for Lent, and they’re all accordingly miserable. It’s so much easier to suffer through something when everyone else is having to do the same. I went off sugar in my tea that time and I haven’t had it since. If I did, I’m certain I would be sick.

Don’t cut down on things at times when those things are what you need most for comfort. Cut down on them when you don’t need that comfort, at times when you’re most happy.

So, the key to your personal fulfilment is either the misery of everyone around you, or an introduction of misery into your life when it’s not already there.

It’s great being human, isn’t it?

Ciaran Quinn