Sunday Times Style Columnist, the voice behind The Dolly Mail and co-host of The Pandolly Podcast, Dolly Alderton tells us why she’s thinking small with her resolutions for 2017.
Can you think of one New Year’s Resolution that you’ve ever stuck to? Never did give up white carbs forever did you? Or stop taking taxis, or read every work of Dickens. Don’t worry – me neither. Every year begins with a lofty list of lifestyle transformations which I boast about for all of January and give up by March. But not this year! If you are also fed up of giving up; of creating a list of unrealistic expectations that only make you feel worse about yourself when you fail, make a list of small, everyday do-able changes you can sustain for a whole year, or maybe even a whole life. Here are ten of my delightfully achievable suggestions.
- Always carry a book in your bag. Trains will be delayed, post office queues will be long; you’ll be able to rattle through a book a week if you fill dead time with reading rather than scrolling through Instagram.
- Ring your mum for a proper conversation once a week. Listen, ask her good questions, tell her good stories.
- Send your best friend a bunch of flowers to celebrate her achievements, from as big as getting a promotion to as small as standing up to a difficult boss. We owe moments of excitement and surprise to our dearest and oldest friends as much as we do to our partners and lovers.
- If you hate the gym, give up your membership. Download a podcast, forgo buses and walk for 13,000 steps a day. It’s the same amount of time you’d spend in the gym, but it’s a method of transportation! And free!
- Invest in a good, easy-to-empty bin for your kitchen. A bad bin makes life difficult at least three times a week. And life is too short to be muttering and spluttering to yourself in anger three times a week.
- Use bath oil. And a nice, proper one too. Spend money on it. We always spend money on the things we never use, like those killer heels we can’t walk in or that be-jewelled, be-feathered party dress. It’s so much more indulgent to spend money on every day, boring things, because then you’ll get a big, delicious bite of self-care every single day. So, yes, buy a good bin. And light a beautiful candle before bed. Screw the satin stilettos, spend money on a radio that never crackles. Go full Marie Antoinette and refuse to get in a bath unless it’s got silky streaks of golden Morrocan Rose oil floating on its surface. THAT’S money well spent.
- Ask what a word means if you don’t understand it – no one will think you’re stupid, they’ll think you’re curious. Write it down and use it three times in one week – then it’s officially yours. Here are some really tasty ones I’ve learnt this year: capricious, crepuscular, venery, verdant, anathema, rodomontade.
- Switch from black to navy. Black is chic, but navy is soft. Try a navy roll-neck, a navy leather bag or a thick navy scarf.
- Hand-write notes – it’s a great habit to cultivate. Buy a stack of Penguin postcards, a book of first class stamps and a black fountain pen and you’ll always be good to go. Write notes to say thank you for dinners, presents; if a colleague helps you out at work, if a friend is having a bad week. There’s something about receiving a message you can hold in your hands, pin on your cork-board or pack away in a memory shoe-box that is so much more precious than getting an email.
- Continue to do as much good as you can. You may not save the world, but you can buy a Big Issue. You may not be able to quit chocolate, but you can share a kitkat with your flatmate on the sofa, rather than getting through a tin of Quality Street on your own. For 2017 you don’t have to vow to be You 2.0 – you can just continue to be you, trying as hard as you can.