''It’ll Be Different Next Year,' You Say, Scribbling Your Plans On The Back Of A Selection Box'

Niall Lanigan on the unchanging mental torture of New Year's Resolutions


It’s that time of year again.

After the excesses of Christmas, our in-built guilt and sin muscles chug into life again after a brief hiatus. Mentally and physically, you're exhausted; you might throw a few pints into you but it’s a token gesture, your heart just isn't in it any more.

You’ve managed to motivate yourself as far as St Stephen’s Night but now reality is present. Grinning at you like a Cheshire Cat, pawing at you like the limp, bloated, unsexy mouse that you are. ‘NO MORE CHEESE FOR YOU’, it taunts.

And most depressingly of all, you're so broken down that you're inclined to agree.

You sit bolt upright in your sitting room, where everyone else is either asleep, pretending to be asleep, pretending to enjoying Mrs Brown’s Boys or actually enjoying Mrs Brown’s Boys (Mam).

You stumble blearily into the kitchen and look for a pen and something to write on.

"It’ll all be different next year" you tell yourself. And so, you frantically begin scribbling down life-altering plans on the back of a Selection Box.


"What's it called? Quinoa! Yeah, that’s the one!". You put an asterisk beside it as you're unsure of how to actually pronounce it and have only ever encountered it written down – you're pretty sure it's kwy-noah, but it's worth a check at least.

Avocado, chai seeds, lean gains, So-Sue-Me... all these familiar yet unfamiliar terms are swirling about your head like an intoxicating, sugar-free virgin cocktail. 

You get your phone out and start scrolling through Facebook to find that old school-acquaintance who's now a personal trainer, and fire him off a message enquiring about a program for January, knowing – but not caring – that everyone else is doing the exact same thing.

A few days pass – and before you know it, it’s New Year’s Eve; universally loathed but always very well celebrated.

You grudgingly make plans, vowing to give it one last blow-out before the new regime starts. You are slow to start but gradually slip into the groove. You're a well-oiled machine, in every sense. Pints, shorts, bombs, fags and ‘Is it actually gone 12 yet?’ all flow.


The pizza will be here soon. Best focus on that.

Hugs all round. You tell everyone who’ll listen in the smoking area that next year will be different. You cut your own speech short as you confirm attendance at a house session afterwards.

You wake up on the couch, take 10 seconds to survey the carnage and wisely hightail it.

Passing in and out of hungover consciousness that evening, you scour Just Eat, demanding only the best grease for your body. You're back in work tomorrow so you have to make it count. 

Your phone starts to buzz. What, the delivery man ALREADY? This is amazi... but no. No, it's a Facebook message from that ‘friend’ from school. Sporty Spice. You read it via the preview, ensuring not to click into the message itself so it doesn't show up as 'Read'.

The pizza will be here soon. Best focus on that. 

In the office, you can hear a pin drop; a sea of flexing guilt muscles, sordid shame, and recently-defrosted turkey curries at lunch.


Oh do go away.

Ahhhhh The Weekend. Hello old friend, it’s been too long! You grimace as you ponder the offer of pints. You're skint. You really shouldn't. But you do anyway – you've just endured a week in work. You've EARNED this!

On Friday night, in a mildly merry haze, you unfriend Sporty Spice after the third message – reasoning that you'll just find another Personal Trainer.

After a Monday where you're not quite hungover, but not quite right either, you try to blow off the cobwebs with some fitness work on your own terms. You are blowing out your arse after five minutes. The Virgin Mary appears after 10. You get Thai food on the way home. ‘It’s healthy right?’. 

Hobbling to work the next morning, like the Tin Man from ‘The Wizard of Oz’, you proclaim that enough is enough.

‘Starting next month, I'm gonna make some changes’. 

And this time, you mean it.

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