My New Year's Resolutions

2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
All Achieved Sort of achieved... Failed

Abstinence resolutions


Creativity resolutions


Ethics resolutions


Film resolutions


Food resolutions


Health resolutions


Learning resolutions




Music resolutions


Tech resolutions


Time-wastage resolutions


Resolutions I achieved


Resolutions I sort of achieved...

Sort of achieved...

Resolutions I failed




Bye bye baby – baby binary

They fuck you up, your mum and dad. Each generation seems to have its own issues, too new or too complex to get their heads around before their kids figure it out and shame them for their antiquated attitudes. I fully expect that for me and my peers, being right on about genderqueer identities will be (or: is) one such challenge.

With that in mind, in 2018 I’ll stop using gender-specific nicknames for my son. Since he was born he’s been Sir, Mister Man, Little Man and many varieties thereof. But I don’t intend to make a man of him unless that’s what he wants – so for now, best to keep his nicknames a little less exclusive.

2018 Ethics

Buy my revenge

Sometimes cowardice or impotence mean you fail to do the right thing. Standing up to that bigot, supporting that minority, correcting that falsehood – you don't dare, or the moment passes, or you think it'll make no difference anyway, and you're left muttering "If only...". Last year I tested out a sort of swear jar for inaction, giving £1 to a science education charity every time I encountered pseudoscience and failed to do anything about it. It's still a bit cowardly, and it's no excuse for inaction – but it might be recompense for it. It's also pretty cathartic, which is why I call this process: givenge. (Here’s an inspiring example of a whole town getting givenge and raising €10,000 to fight extremism.)

In 2018 I'll extend my vengeance to other wrongs I witness (or commit, if you'll tell me). The list is inexhaustive but I don't need clairvoyance to predict I'll encounter a little ableism, homophobia, racism, sexism, speciesism, transphobia, xenophobia, online bullying, dishonest reporting, and awful critical thinking. (Happy 2018!) I’ll keep a record so we can all see just how generous, gutless and hounded by dodgy ideologues I really am.

2018 Ethics

Learn Abu Dhabi from Addis Ababa

Dadhood makes you do strange things. I spent much of 2017 grappling with a GCSE chemistry revision guide, just in case my one-year-old came out with a question about addition polymers or fractional distillation. (Still waiting.)

In 2018, if Orry asks me the capital of Cameroon or the county town of Clackmannanshire, I'll have more than a mere shrug to offer. I am finally going to rectify my awful knowledge of global – and local – geography. I shall become the memory master of countries, capitals, counties and (calm yourself) British motorways.

2018 Learning



Be smart with my phone

This year I’ve been people watching. I’ve been thinking. I’ve done done some writing and some reading. I’ve had the space to do this in no small part because I bought myself a second mobile phone.

I’ve replaced my smartphone with a “dumbphone”. It can make calls and send texts, and it has an alarm that wakes me up on workdays. I charge it every few weeks. It cost me £25.

I still have a smartphone. I use it for shopping lists, podcasts, photos and WhatsApp. It lives in the hallway, only has internet access when I’m at home, and never makes a noise. It’s the most wonderful smartphone setup I’ve ever had.

2017 Abstinence Technology Time-wasting Achieved

Be a full time dad, some of the time

In 2017 I gave up the two best jobs I’ve ever had. In April I stopped being a copywriter, when my contract ended. In October I stopped being a full time dad when I went back to work*. I moved on from both jobs with real reluctance. My resolution to take half the year off and bring up a child is tagged “things I was going to do anyway”, but it’s worth shouting about because mums and dads in the UK are the worst in the developed world at sharing childcare.

In the not-too-distant, I fully intend to do both of those jobs again!

*Though as one friend pointed out last year, any parent is a full time parent, no matter what else they’re doing.

2017 Milestones Achieved


In 2017 I resolved, “I’ll only visit Facebook when someone gives me a good reason to.” And I did. I also resolved “I’ll only check my emails once a day.” And I didn’t. I checked my emails whenever I was near a computer. This one needs more work.

2017 Abstinence Technology Time-wasting Sort of achieved...

Eat more

I went into this resolution with such commitment I forgot about it within a few days. Having some fruit whenever I had a naughty snack was an admirable idea, but at the rate I gobble Oreos I’d have given the greengrocer restocking issues. Still, this year I’ve discovered a healthier kind of Orry O’s, since my son is obsessed with eating oranges, and he’s gracious enough to share with the family.

2017 Food Health Failed

Do 18,000 pressups and 11,000 situps

In 2017 I averaged 25 pushups and 15 situps a day. Unfortunately, that’s because I did 50 pushups and 30 situps every day for the first half of the year, and none of either for the second half. (Pushups and situps are really very boring.) Since 50/30 is what I resolved to do, this one gets marked: fail.

2017 Health Failed

Make a really bad film

For the second year running I resolved to make a feature film. For the second year running, I didn’t. While the conceit was a cunning one – pledge to make a bad film on the assumption that, if I allow myself a bad film, I might just surprise us all and make a good one instead – it didn’t work; I made neither. (On the other hand, I did make several little films of which I’m very proud.)

2017 Creativity Films Failed



Treat myself to 10 new books

I love books. Especially beautiful ones. But I also rather like frugality – so my regular book supplier is Oxford Central Library. Ten times in 2016 I ignored my stinginess and bought a lovely new book just for me. They were:

2016 Achieved

Clean up

I’d become a champion filthy crockery stacker – and fruit fly cultivator. So for the first half of 2016 I washed up everything, every day. Then we moved house and got a dishwasher, and it washed up everything, every day, instead.

2016 Sort of achieved...

Stop procrastinating

The overarching aim for 2016 was: stay focussed. I love having projects on the go – but I have a tendency to dive in with the most recent or the most exciting – at the expense of the most challenging or important (see also: all previous failed resolutions). In 2016 I promised to file away all my creative projects until the time was right to work on them, and to make sure I put the time saved towards the projects that really mattered. Of course, I have two built in excuses for doihg poorly at this one: I managed to spend most of the year a) trying to buy, occupy and make a home, and b) preparing for being – or actually being – a father. Still, there are 24 hours in a day, and I’m sure I spend too many of them unrewardingly faffing about. Could do (much) better.

2016 Sort of achieved... Abstinence Time-wasting

Film half of Quietus

In 2015, I resolved to start shooting my feature film, Quietus. Instead I spent the year rewriting the screenplay. In 2016, I resolved to start shooting my feature film, Quietus. Instead I bought a house, got a new job and had a child. To be fair to myself, I did a lot of prep work – budgeting, buying props and kit, and even filtering through 200 actor submissions and auditioning some. But what I didn't do is: start shooting my feature film, Quietus. Whoops.

2016 Failed Creativity Films

Cook 12 fancy meals

Put together 12 meals I’ve never made before to explore my cooking skills? Yeah, resolutions are nice ways to explore new things, but: nope. I’m not interested in cooking. I managed one dish before I gave up.

2016 Failed Creativity Food Learning



In with the old

In 2014 I watched just three films that predated 1970. In 2015, 21 of them, to remember that life begins before 40 years ago. It was worth it for 12 Angry Men, Brief Encounter, El Cid and Rear Window alone.

2015 Achieved Films Learning

Go bananas every day

It wouldn't be my new year's resolutions without a healthy dose of gastronomic micromanaging. In 2015 I ate 1 kiwi, 1 lime, 1 melon, 1 pineapple, 1 portion of strawberries, 2 portions of blueberries, 3 figs, 5 portions of raspberries, 6 oranges, 8 portions of grapes, 10 plums, 21 peaches, 94 apples, 115 pears, 135 clementines and 329 bananas. In short: two pieces of fruit a day.

2015 Achieved Food Health

Straighten things out

In 2015 I stood up for myself. And sat up for myself. Thanks to some gentle reminders from fellow slouchers, I made a point of straightening out my spine. To those of you who helped, you totally got my back up – so thank you.

2015 Achieved Health

Dear departed diary

After relearning the joy of writing with pen and paper in 2014, in 2015 I embraced that most cliched of resolutions and began a diary. But after two months of slavishly documenting the most inane events of my daily life, my diary and I consciously uncoupled, and I started dedicating my time to, well, anything else.

2015 Sort of achieved... Creativity


In 2015 I resolved to start making my first feature film, Quietus. Instead I spent the whole year rewriting it. I did, however, begin the short film and the wedding film that I had determined I'd work on for practice. Next year will not be a quiet one, when filming really begins.

2015 Sort of achieved... Films Milestones

Don't have a cow

For years I've tried to justify needless animal abuse on behalf of the people who fund it. I’ve repeatedly failed. In 2015 I resolved to dedicate my thoughts to something more productive than trying to justify violence. But I failed again. The countless trillions of animals that we pay to hurt and kill every year is too tragic – and the results, in every shoe shop, hot chocolate and roast dinner, are too visible – not to weigh on my mind.

2015 Failed Abstinence Ethics Time-wasting

Check out

God, Google and Mark Zuckerberg only know how often I check my email and Facebook accounts. Nothing to see here. Move along. In 2015 I resolved to check each only once a day. I started and ended the year on track – but for 10 months in between I was as hooked and app-happy as ever before. And guess which two months were the most productive? I pray to the holy trinity (aforementioned) I've learned my lesson for 2016.

2015 Failed Abstinence Technology Time-wasting

Play it again, Al

In 2014 I failed my resolution to master the piano piece Clair de Lune. In 2015 I failed my resolution to master the piano piece Clair de Lune. In 2016 I won't try to master the piano piece Clair de Lune.

2015 Failed Creativity Music

Bonus: Become Al Kinley-Jones, BA

Two easy wins (hopefully) – after five years of romancing and six years of studying, in 2015 I intend to tie the knot and throw my mortarboard – I'm getting married and graduating with a BA in English Literature (I'll let you decide which involved romancing and which, studying), all in the space of three months.

2015 Achieved Learning Milestones



Be smart

In 2013 I kept hearing that "you work the way you dress". So in 2014 I put it to the test, and wore a shirt and tie to work at least once a week. (It got boring very quickly – and I don't think I got any smarter.)

2014 Achieved

B movie

After 10 years of planning, more than a thousand pages of notes, and a decade of procrastination, I finished writing my film. In 2015 I'll start filming it.

2014 Achieved Creativity Films Milestones

Below the line

Comment pieces can be pretty infuriating. The comments they inspire online are ten times worse. In 2014 I saved my time – and my tether – by never venturing below the line.

2014 Achieved Abstinence Time-wasting


In about 2005, I started learning to play my favourite piece of piano music, Clair de Lune. In 2014 I promised to master it. I'm not quite there yet, but 12 months of diligent practice have brought me close. I'll share a recording once it's ready.

2014 Sort of achieved... Music

Be nice

In November I remarked that "I don't understand how anyone can knowingly support this stuff" – where "this stuff" is torturing and killing animals for ingredients. But I do know. I do it too. Despite resolving to cut out the moral slipups and non-vegan booze in 2014, I drank all manner of ales, lagers and wines that may or may not have been made using (no kidding, these are common ingredients) gelatin, fish bladder, crustacean shells, cow secretions and egg whites. How can people knowingly support torturing and killing animals? Because it's so easy to forget that you are (or to pretend that you're not) doing it at all.

2014 Failed Ethics Food

Be happy

That is to say: don't worry. Years of resolutions have taught me that, actually, it's okay to eat too many crisps, to suffer the odd hangover, and to scoff twenty-two Bourbon biscuits at a time. In 2014 I tried to stop worrying about eating too much of this or that – and failed. Mind you, as resolutions go, "not watching what you eat" is probably not a bad one to fail.

2014 Failed Food



Get biblical

In 2013 I read two of the most important books ever published: The Bible and The Qur'an. The books were quite interesting. The conversations they inspired were exhausting.

2013 Achieved Learning

Stop the salt assault

It was heartbreaking how much salt I used to add to my food. Really, I think it was actually breaking my heart. In 2013 I put a halt to the salt – that is, never adding it to a finished dish – and felt all the better for it.

2013 Achieved Abstinence Food Health

Make beautiful music

Making time to be creative is really important. In 2013 I made one piece of music each month – written, recorded, produced and shared. By December I had a whole album.

2013 Achieved Creativity Music

Keep up with the booze

Trying to limit the days wasted following nights wasted, I kept track of all the alcohol I guzzled in 2013. By the end of the year I realised I could relax: my only drinking problem was the faff of recording everything I consumed.

2013 Achieved Food Health

Tech a break

Checking emails, news and social media just before trying to sleep really isn't good for you. Take it from someone who kept the hour before bed tech-free for a year. It feels wonderful.

2013 Achieved Abstinence Health Technology Time-wasting

Cut the crisps

In support of my desire to eat less crap, I resolved only to eat crisps if I shared them with others. The result? I bought lots of "share-size" packets, and ate most of the contents myself. A techincal win, but a moral disaster.

2013 Sort of achieved... Abstinence Food Health


Though 2012 was my fourth year of taking resolutions seriously, for some reason I didn't record them at the time. I'm confident that, after my epic run in 2010 and '11, I had more than two resolutions, but there's simply no record of them. Shameful.


Contact the living

Had I realised quite how expensive sending a birthday postcard to all 50-odd members of my geographically-diverse family would be, I might have reconsidered this secret resolution. But it was a nice addition to my year of wordy, worldy resolutions.

2012 Achieved Creativity

Book some time out

In an attempt to reignite my love of reading, my friends chose 26 books for me to read – one book a fortnight, each from a different country. It worked: I haven't stopped reading since.

2012 Achieved Learning



Rein in the eating out

I eat out far too much – wasting money and resources. So in 2011 I ate out no more than once a week.

2011 Achieved Abstinence Food


Crisps are my snack of choice, and I consume them mercilessly. It's horrendous for my heart and terrible for my taste buds. In 2011 I was only allowed to pinch the odd potato layer from someone else who was sharing.

2011 Achieved Abstinence Food Health

Blow my own horn

After a 10 year hiatus, it was time to clear out my lungs and rediscover the joy of playing the trumpet. I failed at motivating myself in solo – but luckily I joined a band in which I could blow brassy melodies to my heart's content.

2011 Sort of achieved... Creativity Music

Turn, write

A simple challenge: write a page day. Fiction or fact. Epic or limerick. Just something to keep the creative juices flowing. But without giving myself a means of measuring or sharing my success, I failed at this resolution.

2011 Failed Creativity



Be a marathon man

Despite never before running beyond the bus stop, I accepted my friends' challenge to run the Paris Marathon. Then I got hooked, and ran the Florence Marathon too. Altogether, I ran about 750 miles in 2010.

2010 Achieved Health

Save a few lives

After two years of eating things that don't contain dead animals, but do cause them, I realised vegetarianism didn't make much sense to me. Veganism was the only logical solution.

2010 Achieved Abstinence Ethics Food Milestones

Meet my match

Looking back, I can't believe I ever added something as fate-dependent as "find someone to cuddle" to my resolutions. But I did. And somehow, I succeeded. Seek, and ye shall find...

2010 Achieved Milestones

Embrace creationism

Who knows what I meant when I resolved to "get creative" in 2010? Whatever it was, I edited a series of children's stories, made a short documentary, and took a whole lot of photographs. Creative enough?

2010 Achieved Creativity Films

Book some time out

Apparently I set myself the challenge of "reading" in 2010. With no plans for what or when to read, I managed six books. Two of which someone else read to me. Still, at the end of the year I marked this down as a success. Well done me.

2010 Achieved Learning

Stay grounded

In 2009 I took six flights. I also got paid to campaign against climate change. In 2010, I felt a touch guilty. So I didn't fly at all.

2010 Achieved Abstinence Ethics

Carry on campaigning

When I finished working in Oxfam's campaigns team, I wanted to make sure I stayed angry, stayed informed, and stayed involved. I did – pestering MPs, signing petitions and keeping up with the news – but I also felt 2010's score was a firm "could do more".

2010 Sort of achieved... Ethics

Enrol en Español

I have no aptitude for languages. Nada. Nil. Nichts. But a tricky trip to Barcelona convinced me it was time to try again. Alas, it turned out I didn't have the resolve for this resolution. No Spain, no gain. Nada.

2010 Failed Learning



Meat demands

After 14 months of woolly vegetarianism ("Well, since you've already cooked it..."), I accepted that, for the sake of my own credibility, I had to go cold turkey – and embrace vegetarianism.

2009 Achieved Abstinence Ethics Food

Make the last post

I secretly vowed to send a charming letter across the Atlantic to my girlfriend in the US every week. After the first letter, she broke up with me. At that point it seemed sensible to abandon the resolution...

2009 Sort of achieved... Creativity