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03rd Jan 2020

Real life: I’ll never be a ‘new me’ this New Year without a frank and honest audit of my life

Taryn de Vere

“Breaking years-long habits is not easy work, which is maybe why we leap upon the quick-fix solutions offered by something like a detox tea”

Christmas Day wasn’t even over when I saw the first of the ‘inspirational’ New Year adverts for weight loss clinics and “Detox Jan” articles promoting the idea that with just a bit of effort (and presumably a lot of money) I could have a New Year and a “new me”.

It all sounds so enticing. If you just drink this detox tea you can “get the body you’ve always wanted”. I’ve always wanted a body that can fly, will it do that? And I sometimes wonder what it would be like to have a tail. Can the tea deliver me a tail and the ability to fly? (If so, WHY did no one tell me about this before?!)

There’s yoga pants offering me an entire life change – but if I buy them will they actually stop me from my decades-long pattern of self sabotage?

I’m not so sure.

Will buying a healthy eating recipe book stop me from cooking the same rotation of meals I’ve cooked for the last decade? What would be more useful would be a book to teach me how to break the habit of buying the same groceries each week.

And don’t get me started on “challenges”. There’s the walking challenge, the running challenge, the juice challenge, the soup challenge, the when-did-food-become-something-we-have-to-fight challenge…

Whose idea was it to challenge people into doing things every January? Taken out of January, a “challenge to eat soup every day” just seems childish; a weird, corporate flex to sell packet soup.

While everything is offering me a lovely new streamlined life (as long as I buy these products and services first…) what would create a more sustainable change would be some help on reflecting on the life I already have.

Okay, no amount of reflection is going to get me the body I’ve always wanted – I can’t think a tail into existence – but how can we make significant changes in our lives without looking back at the values and ideas that have created the life we already have?

In lieu of resolutions, I propose a January life audit, a frank and honest look at the exact state of things. Then, in the areas where things aren’t going great, a deep dive into the thoughts, ideas and values that may have contributed to said messy parts of life.

Yoga pants aren’t going to suddenly transform my chaotic house to a minimalist oasis of calm, but if I take a long look at why chaos feels more comfortable to me than order, I might be able to start the work of transforming my space.

I would like to change up my diet. Not to make it healthier, as I eat a balanced diet already, but just to bring some new tastes into my and my family’s life. I was given a lovely glossy cookbook for Christmas and I read though it with excitement thinking of all the things I’d love to make, but soaking things for days before, ordering ingredients from specialist shops and having to spend hours making the chutney that is a key ingredient to the dish is not practical for my life. So I know I’m not actually going to make any of the recipes in that book.

Instead, I’d love to read a book that explores the values and ideas we hold about food, and helps us undo any unhealthy ideas we have. (And if it could have a load of easy but tasty recipes full of ingredients I can buy in Aldi that would be a big bonus.)

Breaking years-long habits is not easy work, which is maybe why we leap upon the quick-fix solutions offered by something like a detox tea. However, for many of us the real challenge is stopping to identify the ideas we hold that are no longer serving us.

Most of the things I’d like to change about my life are things that involve this kind of difficult internal work. Once I’ve identified the areas I want to change, I’m going to have to change of my habits and actions. While those kind of changes are never easy the great thing about it is that I don’t need to buy anything to begin doing that work.

Top of my list is becoming more of a realist… It’s time to give up on my dream of having a tail.