The turkey has been carved and eaten, the walls of Facebook have been covered with far too many shameless selfies, and everyone has had their share of festivity to last them several months. Now what? For many Oxonians, the transience of time slows down, opening up a dreaded void of slight unease and panic due to the pile of unfinished ‘vac work.’ As tradition would allow, it seems like the perfect time of the year to turn over a new leaf, and embark on that yearly tradition of making various statements, far too ambitious to ever be fulfilled. We say to ourselves, “I will sort this mess out now. I will not leave it all until ‘noughth week’ and will certainly organize myself better in the next vacation.” Well…
Why is it so difficult to prevent ourselves from slacking and to get back into the zone? The easiest answer seems to lie in our ridiculously short, but intense, terms. By fifth week, most of us feel the drag – ‘Fifth Week Blues.’ This nomenclature speaks for itself; with impending deadlines, your body starts to lose its drive due to the previous four weeks of insalubrious living. Come eighth week and we return home as a horde of barely-functioning zombies in dire need of hibernation. Michaelmas vacation is the most arduous of the three, with the most festive celebrations, and of course for many freshers, it will be the first time they retreat from Oxford, from that motus animi continuus. The more you sleep, the more sleep your body seems to want. One must be ever so driven, if not keen, to start working again within a week, or else the reading lists and essay feedbacks will never be looked at. If a holiday is planned, the extra procedure of un-packing and re-packing makes it all the more challenging. Need I go on?
If we are ever to break through this ‘Devil’s circle,’ as the Germans might call it, is jumping on the bandwagon and starting to make resolutions really the most efficient answer? I highly doubt it. What kind of sloth waits for 365 days before they decide they want to achieve something? New Year’s Resolutions seem to have become a sort of public announcement for others to comment on, or else for others to give you more “Likes” to boost your ego: “New Year, new me!” The biggest flaw in this yearly trend is that we become consumed by what we think we should be doing, rather than what we actually want to be doing. Do you really need to climb Everest this year, or do you really need to lose some weight? Many a resolution is decided by Googling ‘Top 10 New Year’s Resolution Ideas. We read some self-help Facebook advertisement shared by a friend and forget what our own goals actually are. Instead, why not just determine your own instinct of what you want to achieve in 2015 and act on it immediately?
Impossible ambitions also distort our perception of reality and what is possible. Armchair planning something and actually doing it are two very different things. You end up losing momentum as more and more tasks become next to impossible to achieve. Statistically, most resolutions do not survive past the third week of January, the end of the month at the most. Even with a well-thought-out schedule, it is difficult to stick by it at this time of the year. To read five chapters of a realist novel per day sounds reasonable perhaps, but one visit from a distant relative from Holland, and the next thing you know, you have to read ten chapters about someone’s wretched married life the next day. Not going to happen.
The issue is that we are trying to make ourselves do something that does not mean anything to us at the time. We cannot plan everything out in our lives, and I think that can be part of the fun. Turning over a new leaf does not mean becoming on-edge and controlling, trying to blueprint your life in the next year against some ambitions that have suddenly been sifted through social media and into your psyche. So forget New Year’s Ambitions, and just be ambitious. Did you not find the time to attend that society event you signed up to at Freshers’ fair, or perhaps to improve the state of your Thursday mornings? This is your chance: “Carpe the f*cking diem” and just do it!
PHOTO/ Dyrk Wyst texture