We call them New Years resolutions, a promise to ourselves to make our life's just a tad better. And how successful are we? Put it like this, at a guess, I'd say the most popular New Years resolution by a country mile is, to stop making New Years resolutions.
There seems to be something about closing out one year and ushering in a new one that makes us disproportionately optimistic about the future, more so than at any other time.
If we behaved like this randomly, in the the middle of the year people would think you'd gone barmy. If, for example midsummer, you gathered your nearest and dearest and told them, 'I think this could be my August. I've just got a really good feeling. I'm changing my life, joining the gym and learning French!', they'd all think you were having a mid life crisis.
I haven't made a resolution for a while because I'm done with bank rolling Fitness First with my unused memberships. But what I have been doing for the past few years is making a list of intentions. Late December I find a couple of blank pages in my diary (when I say blank, I mean those useless pages with international public holidays and dialling codes - we have google now, Mr Diary Maker) and list all the things I'd like to see happen over the following year.
'What you think about you bring about' and all that. So I let my imagination go to town (whilst trying to keep it vaguely plausible. I know I can't be president but I could get offered my own radio show).
After I'd completed my list I'd look at it proudly, anticipating a rich and rewarding year ahead based on my cosmic shopping list.
then I'd leave the list to stew for approximately 365 days.
Then around about the same time 12 months later I'd return to the list and see how I had faired, ticking off my successes and failures. Ok, radio show - got, stated blog - got, boyfriend - hmm, need.
The first year, I didn't do too badly. I'd say there was a 75% hit rate. I was more than happy with that and decided to continue the practice but as the years went by I noticed that I was entertaining more and more misses and fewer and fewer hits.
Having recently reviewed this years list I can confirm that, like Michael Jackson's Thriller follow up, it's bad.
I wasn't sure what I was doing wrong. Was I asking for too much, for the wrong things or just entirely misdirected my energies for a whole year.
For some reason my mind went back to a meeting I'd had back in June with a studio exec. We were discussing my future plans and he asked me the same question I'd been asking myself annually since 2008. What did I want front the year ahead? I shrugged my shoulders and naively bleated, 'series regular in something?'
I didn't even say it with conviction. To me it was a question. What was the universe willing to give me. What's the biggest thing I could be audacious enough to ask for.
He wasn't inspired by my comment telling me instead to think about how to engage all my skills. He said I should feel compelled to engage with the industry and most importantly, have a need to make a contribution.
A what now?
Fast forward to this week and my mind is on creating my 2014 wish list. I suddenly realised the mistake I'd been making.
Everything in the list was predicated on the fact I needed someone to give me something. Be it a job or money or love, it was all about what I wanted not about what I could give.
In the entertainment industry it's very easy to get into the mind set of 'what can I get' or 'what can people give to or do for me'.
Actors are always thinking about getting a casting director to give them a job, singletons think about the love a new partner will give them, the sales men want to get your money but the world looks very different when you think about what you're putting into it rather than what you're taking out.
Rather than thinking about finding a wonderful boyfriend or girlfriend, perhaps we should be thinking how can I make myself into the best possible partner so I can love soemone fully, rather than being desperate for a job, think what skills can I bring to this company.
Or in my case, what are the creative entities I can share with the world.
Returning to my list I decided I would still do it as I always had but this time I would shift the perspective. Now, nothing in the list is determined by my needing something from other people, it's all about what I can either do for my self or offer into the world.
And it's not to say I wouldn't eagerly welcome job offers but rather I want to shift my attention from what's coming in to what's going out. That feels a more healthy perspective to me. So now, moving into 2014, my resolutions have transformed into a to do list. What I'm willing to contribute. I'll report back in approximately 365 days time.
Good luck to everyone who's made an intention, uttered a resolution or pledge to make 2014 your year. Stay humble, remain grateful and you can't go wrong
Happy New Year!