You could, of course, start the year off with exactly the same good intentions that you have every year. And, sometime around mid February you could, as usual, give them up.
Or you could be RED about it – take those old resolutions and turn them on their head. Result – much more fun, a year filled with life-enhancing new experiences and that smug feeling you get when, finally, you manage to keep your promises.
Go on a diet? No. Eat more amazing food
We’ve all seen the magazine covers – New Year, New You! As they terrorize us towards the ‘lite’ and ‘zero sugar’ aisle in the supermarket. Well, this year they’re not going to make us feel guilty about taking one too many scoops of Ben and Jerry’s with our Christmas pudding. Or in our coffee. Or just in bed, from the back of a hairbrush. We love food. And we love exploring new tastes, new combinations, and new chefs doing amazing things. This year, we’re going to hunt out deliciousness – not secretly recalibrate the scales when our partner’s not looking. We’re going to go to the edge of the city, where the locals eat. Not play it safe in a chain restaurant or a drive thru. We’re going to explore street food vendors, ramshackle markets and world food emporiums. Top of our list? The southwestern renaissance of New Mexico, the flavor-forward street food of Barcelona, and the sensational seafood of Vietnam.
Exercise more? No. Stop and wonder more.
You can, of course, run until you’re blue in the neck on a treadmill, plugged into your Apple Watch playlist, watching Big Bang Theory on the gym TV. You can do mountain climbers on your rug until you wear it (and you) out. Or you can just stop. Breathe. Recalibrate and reconnect to your senses. We’re going to try Shinrin-yoku – or “forest bathing.” Research shows the health benefits of spending time under the canopy of a living forest is better than doing burpees in a YMCA. So, find your nearest forest. Sit. Soak in the beauty. And, while you’re doing it, your body’s Natural Killer (NK) cells will enjoy an all-natural boost. Win win. Try the ancient forests of Paimpont in Brittany, from where King Arthur’s Quest for the holy grail began, the vast tracks of arboreal forest in mist-shrouded Madeira or the spellbinding silence of Washington’s Olympic National Park in the Pacific Midwest.
Learn to play a new instrument? No, go see more live music!
There was a time when bands actually sold their music. People bought CDs and sometimes they even put them back in the correct cases. Now, with streaming and the cloud we just don’t buy music like we used to. So live music really matters – to safeguard the future of the bands you love, and to prove that music isn’t a bit-rate or a stream of digital downloads. It’s visceral, and powerful and raw. But we’re not experiencing it like we used to. And venues are closing at an alarming rate. Show some love. Go check out a local, or a touring act – doesn’t matter if you know them or not. Happy chance finds are the best finds of all. Your next favorite singer-songwriter ever could be playing at that dive bar downtown. Heck, even Ed Sheeran started out busking on the London Tube. Try the reinvigorated Alcântara area of Lisbon, where Afro-European music ignites the old warehouses, or the surprisingly eclectic roll-call of artists gracing Cape Town’s bars every evening.
Be more organized? No, be more random.
Yes, we know it would be great to know exactly where we’re supposed to be, and when. And have a ‘Getting Things Done’ style inventory of priorities, color-coded and shared between our mobile devices. But, gah, how dull would life be if we lived every moment in thrall to our digital diaries? Sometimes it pays to go off piste, off grid, and off script. And we don’t mean pumping out angry Tweets at three in the morning. We mean being, like, totally random. Running to Central Station and jumping on the first train outta there. Playing bus-stop lotto, and picking a route number at random, and riding it till the end of the line. Or turning up at the airport and getting on the first plane outta there (oh, maybe you’ll need a ticket, if you don’t want to alert security. You can take random too far.) But you catch our drift? We suggest setting a weekend aside, and a budget, and spinning the wheel at travelsp.in. We just got Cabo San Lucas in Baja California Sur, Mexico. We’ll send you a postcard.
Give up drink? No. Drink better (and more responsibly)
We’re older now. We really don’t need to lacerate our throats with burning Sambuca’s, or mix the entire contents of our parents’ cocktail cabinet in a plastic pineapple drinks shaker the moment their backs are turned. No, we’re drinks aficionados. We’re all about exploring quality, not quantity. Artisan beer, old-vine wineries, small batch gin and single malt whisky: there’s never been a better time to explore the magic alchemy of grain, grape, yeast and water. Around the world, new brewers and distillers are re-imagining centuries-old techniques, revisiting ancient recipes and rediscovering exactly why alcohol has always been part medicine and part magic. And we’re not talking Oreo-flavored vodka shots here. We’d recommend visiting the craft beer bars of the Twin Cities (Minneapolis’ Dangerous Man Brews are sublime), the mist-shrouded isle of Islay: Scotland’s home to all things peat and whisky (newcomer, Kilchoman is showing the old timers a thing or two), or the turn-of-the-century Vermouth bars of Madrid (caution: there are hundreds.)