January 10, 2016




  1. A firm decision to do or not to do something.
  2. The quality of being determined or resolute.

At the beginning of last year I made New Year’s resolutions to write a minimum of four blog posts a month, alongside dropping a dress size, not drinking in January and learning Spanish. I was as bound by that first definition as you could get. Except that I basically saw none of the above through. I managed the blog promise for seven whole months until something just had to give a little bit, because life will do that.

Did I spectacularly fail at resolutions, then? Was I crying into my still cellophane wrapped copy of Spanish For Dummies come February? Does spewing out (oh, apologies, I mean carefully crafting) 50,000 words for free instead of a possible 250,000+ mean I’m worthless and useless at things?

According to the first definition up there, yes indeed I did fail, on many counts, mis amigos.

But if we go by the second, it’s less clear-cut. The point here, as I’m learning more every day, is that it all depends on perspective.

If you look at it differently (I find squinting slightly, while standing on a chair and touching an armpit of choice with one index finger and the alternate nipple with the other works well), it becomes blindingly apparent that we’re constantly evolving; making decisions based on discovery + experience + emotion + instinct + other, which may lead to one conclusion on January 1st and another on January 2nd June 15th. You can’t define success or failure based on a to-do list you’ve imposed upon yourself while nursing a hangover and feeling a bit shit about going back to work next week. Goals are fluid because life is fluid, and in that sense 365 days is a really, really long time.

I’m not setting goals for 2016 right now because it strikes me that opening ourselves up to a whole year’s worth of self-imposed albeit well-meaning pressure is a little dangerous when we’re not even entirely sure what’s going to happen tomorrow. Plans change, priorities change, passions change.

I’m not saying don’t graft for something you want, or have long-term goals. If something is bothering you, or stopping you living a life that is authentically yours, then MY GOD do something about it because it’s always within your power to adapt and evolve and grow. But, you simply can’t reinvent yourself as a ‘New You’ just because it’s January, and because 432 emails in your inbox are currently tell you to. You are you – and a product of your choices – 24/7, 365.

So my resolution is simply to be more resolute about being me, not some world-domination version of me that just doesn’t exist. To go for definition #2 instead. To be resolute about feeling my way through 2016, and about being a little better each day, in whichever way that particular day should present the opportunity.

I also, importantly, resolve to maintain perspective on what success or failure actually means.

Because perceived success, and consequently happiness to some extent, comes down to us and the value we place on it. I thought those resolutions would bring me happiness, and they probably would in a certain set of circmstances. But come February, come June, come September when I got wheeled off in an ambulance, I continually refocused depending on what else was presenting itself, and certainly after almost sending myself crazy trying to tick all those self-imposed boxes.

And I achieved SO much other stuff in 2015. Interactions, connections, creativity, laughter, kindness, saying no when it didn’t feel right to say yes, adventures, writing quality words when I had something to say, daring to put myself forward for something despite feeling petrified of completely ballsing it up. Making it to the gym because I knew I’d feel good, NOT making it to the gym because sleep was much more important. READING! Actual books!

Do whatever it is for a day – whether that’s writing as often as feels good, eating full blocks of halloumi (a personal favourite), or committing to your collection of taxidermied cats. Or you know, being kinder to strangers, volunteering time to charity…

Do it for an hour and never do it again. Get swept away and do it for the rest of your life. Do it accidentally. Do it on purpose. Do it non-stop because you can’t sleep at night you’re thinking about it so much. Do it because it makes you feel alive. But don’t commit to doing it for the next 365 days because January is telling you you should.


Cheesy quote < full block of halloumi


  • Reply Elaine January 10, 2016 at 10:09 pm

    Well said – and what a wonderful quote – though I suppose the ‘she’ could possibly be an obnoxious egotist – but I choose to think that she’s as typical in her uniqueness as everyone else, and values that quality in herself and in others.

    You’re absolutely right about the craziness of applying rules to a whole year – “I must do this, this and this” – all the things that I ‘should’ have done before, but didn’t. It traps a year and, little by little, a whole life, in a horrible veil of “could have done better if tried harder” – like a never-ending school report from a grumpy, grumpy teacher. Or a never-ending visit to a Life on Mars-style consultant when your HbA1C isn’t perfect.

    And, as you say, making rules makes you blind to everything that’s outside the rules for the year. Like wishing for rain and ignoring the rainbow.

    I hope you have a good year, full of life and love and wonder. Expected and unexpected. By the way – if you like Spanish, you’ll enjoy Eydie Gorme and Trio Los Panchos. A painless way of breathing in the language.

    Best wishes

    • Reply missjengrieves January 11, 2016 at 9:53 pm

      Hi Elaine, such a lovely comment thank you! And thank you so much for reading. You’re right, that quote could be a selfish cow but I’m hoping not! But again, I guess that also depends on perspective 😉
      I hope to achieve many things this year – from just being a bit kinder, inwardly and outwardly, to professional goals and physical challenges, but I don’t want to write out the to-do list for the next year and give myself that pressure, and sticking to ideals that may not serve me in a few months. I have a feeling there will be more life, love and wonder without the resolutions. I will definitely check out your recommendations thank you!
      Same to you, I hope it’s a year filled with happy moments and cherished adventures. Thanks again so much, Jen xx

      • Reply Elaine January 20, 2016 at 12:02 am

        Just remembered a fab book – it’s a bit Margarita Pratacan, with illustrations by Andy Warhol (published in 1951, so he must have been a jobbing illustrator in those days). It’s called “Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish” and its main premise is how to change English words into Spanish words easily – by adding an ‘a’ to words that end in ‘ist’ for example – ‘dentist’ = el dentista or ‘idealist’ = ‘el idealista’ etc. It’s great fun.

  • Reply Vicki January 11, 2016 at 8:01 pm

    Your words continuously resonate! I hope you had a lovely Christmas, and a Happy (resolution-free) New Year to you!

    -Vicki xxx

    • Reply missjengrieves January 11, 2016 at 9:48 pm

      Hi lovely, happy new year to you! Thank you for this, I’m a bit rusty it’s been a while! It’s very freeing not to tie myself down while also keeping my vague (and constant, not January produced!) goals in mind. I hope you’re having a decent, pressure-free New Year too and are keeping well? xxx

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