Instead of New Year resolutions, here's my to-do list for 2018
I decided a few years ago that I wasn't going to bother with New Year resolutions any longer. And I find that the decision has served me well. No longer do I psych myself to achieve goals that I inevitably give up on a few months into the year. And nor do I feel that crushing sense of failure when I can't live up to my own expectations.
So that resolution stands: no more resolutions for the new year.
This January, however, I have decided that I will mark the advent of 2018 by compiling a to-do list of all that I hope to achieve - or at least work towards - this year. It is a suitably idiosyncratic and wildly varying list, so it may not make the best sense for all of you. But for me, this is just the ticket to make sure that 2018 trumps 2017 by a good margin.
So, here goes, in no particular order of importance:
* A couple of bereavements over the last two years have taught me an important lesson: it is never a good idea to leave your stuff behind for other people to deal with. So, with that in mind, I have resolved that this is going to be the year of giving away. Books that I am never going to re-read. Clothes that haven't seen the light of day in 12 months. Costume jewellery that is now too young for me (shoes and bags, ditto). DVDs, knick-knacks, mementos from trips long-forgotten. It all goes. By the time next January rolls around, I hope to have decluttered completely.
* Of course, all of the above would be useless if I kept on buying more stuff to take the place of what I have given away. So the next item on my to-do list is to buy less. No more shoe-shopping orgies in which I notch up a dozen shoes without even realizing what I am doing. No buying another winter coat when the ones I have in my closet barely get any wear. No more buying physical books unless they're the kind I will want to read again and again (for the rest, the Kindle is a good enough home). And for every single item I buy, I have to get rid of one thing I already possess. That should put a dose of discipline into the proceedings.
* Talking of books, this is the year when I read more and tweet less (and spend less time on Internet generally). Even those who finish a book a day can only read around 25,000-odd books in their entire lifetime (give or take 70 years). And with every birthday, the number of books that I can realistically read before I depart for the great library in the sky gets less and less. So, it's time to hunker down and devour all the books I always meant to read - but never got around to starting.
* The year 2017 will always be special to me because I finished my first novel, Race Course Road, in its closing months (it will be released in February this year). And I am hoping I can make 2018 count as well by going back to the manuscript I abandoned half-way to work on this book and getting that across the finish line as well.
* For the past couple of years, I have been keeping my sugar levels under control by taking long walks when the weather and pollution permits or by joylessly toiling away on my cross-trainer with one eye trained on the television. But that was only until I discovered that I could notch up many more calories burnt and achieve a much higher heart rate if I slipping my earphones in and danced the hour away instead. So, that is going to be my fitness motto for this year: walk less, dance more. (And have much more fun in the process!)
* But while cardio is great for the body, I also intend to nourish my mind. And that's where yoga comes in. No, not the kind in which you push yourself into all kinds of contortions in overheated rooms in the hope of losing weight. But the kind that teaches you to breathe right, shows you how to relax your racing brain, helps your stress levels with the right meditation techniques and allows you to become more in tune with your body and mind. You know the kind that our forefathers used to practice, where you listen to your body and let it lead you instead of trying to beat it into submission. Yes, that's the kind of yoga I am going to immerse myself in this year.
* And then, with a bit of luck, I will be in the right frame of mind to embark on my final - and hopefully, most rewarding - adventure of the year. My own personal rediscovery of Hinduism and the philosophical constructs at the heart of my faith. Given the virulent strands of Hindutva that engulf our public life these days, I think it is more important that ever to do a refresher course in all that Hinduism actually stands for. Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. The world is one family. That seems like a good place to start.