Karen Kay on why the resolutions can wait

PUBLISHED: 10:25 24 January 2014 | UPDATED: 10:25 24 January 2014

Karen Kay, writer and broadcaster. Picture by Ian McIlgorm © IAN MCILGORM 2012..

Karen Kay, writer and broadcaster. Picture by Ian McIlgorm © IAN MCILGORM 2012..


There’s nothing wrong with setting out to change aspects of your life, but adding a little warm sunshine to your goals can spur you to success

I’ve never been one for making New Years resolutions. Publicly stating a resolve to change something about my life sits uncomfortably with a desire for personal privacy. Who gives a damn whether I intend to stop eating Pot Noodles / clear out my handbag collection / stop swearing?

I’m very happy to stand in the spotlight professionally, and if that means spouting off on HS2 or some other policy that gets my goat, then fine: give me a soapbox. But when it comes to being the subject under discussion, I’d rather keep myself to myself. In spite of a generally optimistic nature, I have a rather pessimistic take on New Year resolutions: I believe most are doomed to fail. Even if you secretly set yourself a goal, the very idea that you can make significant changes in your life in the lull after the indulgence of Christmas, feels utterly ludicrous.

However, I relish the idea of setting a challenge and working to reach a point where you feel you’ve achieved something. I tend to make resolutions in spring or summer, when I’m strengthened by sunshine and the new life flourishing around me. When the sky is blue and the evenings are light and long, that is when I feel I can conquer the world, not when hunkered down, fighting off winter colds.

But I still do it quietly, preferring to cherish my missions, and enjoying an inner glow as and when I accomplish them. As I sit now by the fire, listening to the wind whistling around outside, I will still consider the year ahead. A new year is the chance to review the past and look forward. Resolutions need strategic planning, not knee jerk thinking as we stumble, hungover, onto the first page of a new calendar. If you give your dreams the foundations they deserve, you can go out and realise them. So, I choose measurable targets, planned to be achievable, but to stretch me. I give myself a time frame, and put markers on my mission, so I can pass confidence-boosting milestones that spur me on.

Have you set yourself a goal this year? I wish you every success, and sincerely hope that you are one of the few who manages to fulfill your goals.

Campaign burn-out

I was talking to a number of my neighbours, discussing a planning application that will impact heavily on our community if approved. It was fascinating to listen to the responses to the proposal, which ranged from a despondent “what’s the point in objecting, we can’t do anything about it”, to a strident commitment to fight the application with every possible weapon.

After much debate, one woman piped up with her take: “Honestly, I’m done in. I’ve spent the last couple of years campaigning against HS2, and no-one is listening. This project is being bulldozed through Parliament, with a complete disregard for the taxpayers funding it and those members of the public whose lives and livelihoods will be devastated. I’ve neglected my family. I’ve devoted a lot of my working life to reading correspondence and digesting so-called consultation documents, and feel everyone and everything around me has suffered. Every time I hear ‘HS2’, I panic. And quite frankly, I simply don’t have the wherewithal to do any more fighting. No-one gives a damn about this lovely countryside, and nothing we say will stop it being developed. We have to accept it.”

As she concluded, this high-achieving confident woman was visibly shaking, reduced to a tearful wreck.

And seeing her like this made me resolve to keep up the fight. HS2 is not a done deal. It can still be stopped. Or changed to minimise the impact on our beautiful county. And we can campaign for fair compensation for those whose lives have changed irrevocably because of this hair-brained scheme.

The same goes for local planning: don’t sit by and watch as our landscape is ruined. We have a voice: find out who your local councilors are. Meet with MPs and make your feelings known. Write to your local paper. Form action groups to co-ordinate effective campaigns. YOU have the power to shape the future of our county and to ensure it is as beautiful for coming generations as it is for those who live here now.

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