Why you should reset your New Year's goals and resolutions now

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Helen Bownass
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Laura Jackson tells Stylist about the joy of pressing life’s restart button at any time of year.

New Year’s resolutions are aggravating for the following reasons:

  • 1 January is grey, cold, bleak and going back to work is hard enough already.
  • Trying change to one specific date in the year is setting yourself up for failure and means psychologically you’ve got a long time to wait until you try again.
  • The idea of ‘new year, new you’ is offensive and naff. The current you is fine.

This isn’t just a personal rant. Studies show that 80% of people have given up their resolutions by the second week of February. And yet fresh starts and goal-setting have undeniable appeal. So what if there was a different way?

It turns out there is. TV presenter and entrepreneur Laura Jackson recently posted on Instagram that she was starting her year again, despite it being the end of February. The post got more than 120 comments.

“HAPPY NEW NEW YEAR,” read her caption. “Yep you read that right. I’m resetting my year from Saturday […] Why? Because the first half of the year has been a bit sh*t… for reasons I won’t bore you with BUT it looks 
a bit like a cowboy builder running off with savings, a stolen car, a lost job and general
 bad luck SO I’M STARTING THE YEAR AGAIN. I can’t WAIT to start 2018 with good luck and love. Call me bonkers or call me genius but I’m pressing the restart button… can’t wait to see what the ‘new year’ brings me.”

It’s particularly pertinent because over the past few weeks at Stylist – whether it’s because we’ve been inspired by the longer days, the daffodils finally bursting into bloom or because we need to do something about the volume of the world around us – we’ve talked a lot about ‘spring cleaning’ our brains and getting some mental clarity and focus, with one of our writers doing her own clean-up. And starting a New Year process whenever you want – or whenever you need – is the ultimate example of a brain clear-out and honing in on the important stuff to take control once more. 

Taking control is exactly what we’d expect from 31-year-old Jackson. Her multifaceted career began with presenting alongside 
Nick Grimshaw in 2010 and evolved into co-hosting supper clubs with Alice Levine, writing a cookbook and designing for Habitat. She also has her first fashion collaboration
 in the pipeline and continues TV hosting – her current BBC prime-time show Ready Or Not will get her closer to her dream of having a major show of her own. She should, she’d be brilliantly honest and entertaining. As proven by her very modern approach to ordering her own mind…

Tell us about your decision to restart your year at a non-traditional time…

I’d got so stuck in a rut and felt really sad. Something needed to change. I kept thinking, ‘I’m just going to put it to one side and be positive’, but I couldn’t, I just wanted to wipe the slate clean. I’m the kind of person who needs to put something in a box and then I can get rid of it in my mind. So I thought, ‘If I write a list of all the sh*tty stuff that has happened and start 23 February as my 2018, then I can separate the two.’ Since I’ve done it, I’ve had so many messages from people who’ve said, “I’m going through a sh*t time and I feel like I should do it too.” 

“No matter what happens to you with life or your job, don’t ever become ungrateful.”

Why did it feel important to share publicly?

People just assume that your life is really great all the time and all the buzzwords on Instagram are ‘happy’ and ‘mindful’ and sometimes I think, ‘f*ck off’, I don’t feel very happy today and I definitely don’t feel very mindful. I ummed and ahhed about posting it on Instagram. I thought, ‘I don’t want everyone to know I lost a job’, but then everyone loses jobs. Does it really matter? We get so caught up with wanting to appear like we’re living our best, glossy lives but sometimes you only know you’re living your best life because you’ve come out the other end of it.

As well as writing down what hadn’t gone great, what else did you do?

I [physically] threw away that list of [all the bad things that happened this year]. I also wrote down three life goals that I want to achieve. And I kept that list. Then I wanted to create a positive memory to remember my reset – my sister suggested having a Mexican night as I love the food and we had been to Mexico for New Year. Then the next day was a clean start.

What were you thinking about when you were writing down your list of goals?

Jim Carrey spoke about the laws of attraction [in documentary Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond, on Netflix now] and how he visualised himself earning a $10 million pay cheque [which later came true]. The whole placebo effect of thinking positively and those hings actually happening has been proven to work. You have to set yourself goals otherwise you’re just going to float. You want to become fearless. I think fear really holds me back. When I’m not feeling confident it’s because I’m fearful. Getting over that fear through positivity is a really big goal for me.

Would you be happy to share what those goals are?

No, I can’t! [Laughs] They’re pretty 
big goals. But: go hard or go home.

Do you know what it is you’re
 scared of?

It’s both fear of the unknown and
 a personal fear of failure. My husband 
is the same [Jackson is married to photographer Jon Gorrigan], we’ve
 both worked really hard for our money
 and our life and we know that if the
 hard work fails, if we don’t succeed at work, we can’t afford to pay our mortgage. We haven’t been handed anything. I’m learning how to channel all that kind of fear and nervousness into positive energy. 

Jackson believes you can press the restart button at any point during the year.

What have been the effects of doing this?

Empowerment. It’s a general sense of thinking I’m in control of this: this is my life. I needed something for me. I run myself ragged, I say
 yes to everything and I’m a real people-pleaser, so if someone invites me to something, I have to say yes. I’ve realised I need to take a step back and breathe. I hate that word ‘self-care’ but sometimes you do need to go for a massage or tidy your room. I love being in the pub with everyone on a Sunday but I do need to have
 a few early nights too, so that when I am in the pub I’ve got something to talk about other than how exhausted I am.

Do you think there’s something about spring that is good for getting clarity?

Yes. We give ourselves such a hard time in January and try to change ourselves and re-evaluate everything for no other reason than the fact we’re told to. I think the weather has more of an impact on our brains than we let ourselves believe. Today it’s really cold and I feel miserable and I know if the sun was shining I’d feel better. 

Changing your state of mind can 
be really hard. And in a big city like London we often don’t have jobs that start at nine and finish at five. And if you do finish at 5pm you’ve probably got a hobby making jumpers. It’s never-ending. That’s kind of great because we’re keeping our brains ticking and we’re interested and interesting, but we never stop. And we think, ‘If I’ve got a spare hour, I must go to an art gallery’.

How else have you learnt to find focus?

I write lists for everything: get out of bed at 8am, wash hair… I write lists of my lists because it makes me feel better. If you work from home sat at your computer all day, if you’ve got a list you can feel like you’ve achieved something. I don’t write gratitude lists, but I do think through what I’m grateful for in my mind. I always say, “No matter what happens to you with life or your job, don’t ever become ungrateful.” It’s the worst trait.

What are you particularly grateful for at
 the moment?

My husband. That’s very sad. He’s so lovely and honourable. He makes me want to work harder because I see how hard he works and that makes me go, ‘God, I need to get up early and do this…’

Working from home, are you good at being alone?

I’m terrible at it. I’m from such a big family [Jackson has four siblings] and even when I first moved to London I always lived with six people. I go to the toilet with the door open. People always say, “It’s really important to spend time on your own.” Says who? Who has written that rule? I hate all these faux rules. I love sharing experiences with people whether that be in supermarkets or on holiday looking at the stars; I enjoy people rather than being on my own.

Do you read self-help books?

I’ve got The Life Changing Magic Of Not Giving a F**k and You Do You [both by Sarah Knight], which I bought for the plane when I was going to the States recently. I thought, ‘Yeah, I’m going to do me’ and I read two pages but then I saw a glossy magazine and I was like, ‘Ooh I’m going to read this instead’. 

When I do get time to read I love 
a good autobiography. Some people like taking themselves away to fantasise but I like having something to relate to. This is terrible but I’ve never read a Harry Potter book.

What would your advice be to anyone who’s feeling overwhelmed at the moment?

Sometimes you just can’t see the wood for the trees, can you? The other day I had loads of clothes I hadn’t worn in ages so I thought I’d give them away on Instagram. One woman got in touch who had Crohn’s disease and was bed-ridden. She’d been having such a sh*t time so I sent them to her and her friend. People are having such a hard time in the UK for so many different reasons and anything we can do, whether that’s going to check on your neighbour or inviting someone over for dinner, you should try. It’s really important to be kind and to be kind to yourself.

Ready Or Not is on BBC One on Saturday at 6pm

Images: Jon Gorrigan