New Year’s Resolutions for 2023

Sign reads Oh No oh no no no no no oh, on a walking path by the water

Looking over the past few years, my relationship with resolutions has been complex. In 2019 I made an intentionally ludicrous list. In 2020, I tried for sincere resolutions, and then the pandemic happened.

In 2021 I refused to make plans or goals, and 2022 wasn’t much different.

I must be feeling optimistic again, because I’ve actually made a list of actual resolutions.

1. Let go of more
I should be good at this, since I’ve been forced to let go of a lot since I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) in 2017 – but I still find it challenging.

I’ve started looking at my multiple to-do lists and asking what I can not do.

It’s easy to come up with lots of ideas of what I should or could do – it takes as little as one second to have an idea. I have a habit of collecting good ideas (the above-mentioned lists) and clinging to them, as if a unicorn might jump out of my computer screen and magically give me 37 hours of energy per waking day.

I’m trying to learn to throw out (some) good ideas. I’m trying to do less. Full stop.

2. Go 3 months without alcohol
I started this early, back in mid-November, and have found it surprisingly easy. There are more and more interesting non-alcoholic options, both in shops and at bars, and luckily I’ve never needed alcohol to enjoy myself.

I decided to try three months without alcohol after a friend recommended this podcast episode, ‘What alcohol does to your brain, body and health‘, about the health effects of moderate drinking.

Basically, in my very non-scientific understanding, alcohol degrades parts of your brain, which affects cognition. But if you stop drinking for between 2 and 6 months, your brain regenerates this tissue, like a lizard regrowing a tail.

Since the CFS causes me significant cognitive fatigue, I figured I could use all the regenerated brain tissue I could get. I’m hoping to notice a dramatic difference after 3 months, in which case, I might extend the experiment. (Obviously nothing here is meant as medical advice; don’t get your medical advice from a crime writer.)

3. Expect nothing
My psychological thriller Dark Mode is coming out in March in Australia, and later in the UK and Germany. Though I hope readers love it and it sells an ocean of copies, the smartest approach is to steel against disappointment, and leave myself open to surprise.

Dark Mode cover by Ashley Kalagian Blunt, a black cover with a plant motif featuring dahlias, black bat plants and voodoo lilies

4. Go 30 days without buying a coffee
One shop charged me $7 for a large coffee recently. Seven dollars!

Also I quit caffeine at the start of October, so I’m paying a premium for coffee I don’t even need. (That $7 coffee was a large decaf oat capp, which is an embarrassing order – ‘I’d like a large vessel of hot liquid with all its essential elements removed, thank you.’)

Quitting caffeine was hard. It took all year, with several aborted attempts and some wild caffeine withdrawal. Now I’ve gone 3 months without caffeine, so I’m feeling solidly past it.

The problem is I still really like coffee. I like going to cafes, I like the smell of coffee, I like its mouth feel (even though I strongly dislike the phrase ‘mouth feel’).

I know, wah wah wah, I should shut up and donate my coffee money to a worthy cause (and my husband and I are now donating monthly to the Aboriginal Legal Service).

It should be an oxymoron to be addicted to decaf. Apparently not. My plan is to stop full-out for January, and then, hopefully, enjoy my ridiculous $7 large decaf oat capp as an occasional treat.

5. Talk about my health less
This is ironic, since I’ve spent this entire post talking about my health. In so many ways, my health dictates what I’m able to do, and by extension, who I’m allowed to be. I used to be a person who hiked regularly; now I’m a person who spends days in bed. I used to go dancing and wall-climbing and ride my bicycle along the foreshore. Now I stay home. I used to be a person who always returned library books on time. Now I struggle to do even that.

My health comes up a lot in conversation. I want people to know who I used to be when I had the ability to choose how I spent my time and energy. I also appreciate when people ask how I’m doing.

But I’m trying to make an effort to talk about the fatigue less, and as an extension, to think about it less. This is my seventh year living with it. Even though it’s a factor in everything I do, and everything I might hope to do for the foreseeable future, I think I’m ready to try leaving it in the background, at least some of the time.

Whatever else happens, I’ll be doing events and workshops – and a few are already open for bookings, including my online workshop Make 2023 the Year You Write Your Book.

Wishing you all the best for your 2023 resolutions!

2 responses to “New Year’s Resolutions for 2023”

  1. Some exciting things happening for you this year Ashley!
    Love your idea of letting go of more – that gave me pause and made me consider the concept of slowing down, taking more time to just be. I hope the letting go helps you and increases your energy levels in 2023.
    Just listened to the podcast you linked, and it had convinced me to take a dry January, for starters (not that I drink much, but it sounds like even small amounts have an effect and I’d like to see how it feels to go teetotal for awhile).
    Wishing you all that you hope for in 2023. Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so glad you listened to the podcast, Fiona! It’s interesting research, isn’t it. Hope the Dry January goes well for you, and the rest of your 2023 as well. I hope lots of story ideas capture your attention and you’re able to devote as much time to them as you enjoy. Happy New Year to you too!

      Liked by 1 person

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