Thursday 19 September 2019

My 2019 F*** It List: Some famous names on worthwhile resolutions

Learning to dance is all very well, but for a real worthwhile resolution, you should quit something toxic in your life and learn how to say 'No', writes Chrissie Russell

Food Medic Dr Hazel Wallace
Food Medic Dr Hazel Wallace
Helen Cody
'According to experts, there's sound psychology behind the power of saying "No" and letting go'
Daithi O Se
Jenny Dixon
Sarah Breen

Chrissie Russell

As a New Year dawns, the talk inevitably turns to New Year's Resolutions. Perhaps this will be the year you vow that you really will learn Spanish, that 2019 will be the dawn of a new you - someone who does 100 squats before breakfast, bakes everything from scratch and takes up ballroom dancing. But what if, instead of resolving to do something new this year, you resolved instead to stop doing something?

While the traditional New Year's Resolutions and Bucket List concepts involve a long list of things you're going to do, the F*** It list focuses on what you're not going to do. And, according to experts, there's sound psychology behind the power of saying 'No' and letting go.

"I love the idea of saying 'No' to things in the New Year as a resolution that is grounded solidly in self-care and love," says Cork-based psychologist and psychotherapist Sally O'Reilly. Goal-setting can be a motivating and important tool. But the trouble with traditional New Year's Resolutions is we tend to be wildly unrealistic about what we hope to achieve, leaving us battling low feelings of self-worth and anxiety when we inevitably fail to follow through. Saying 'No' to such pressure can have the opposite effect. Sally explains: "Much of our private angst comes from a discomfort, and for some, what feels like an inability, to say 'No'. This is at the root of how we fill our lives with clutter - things and people who do us harm - and for many this clutter morphs into feelings of depression and anxiety."

But it's interesting that so many of the famous faces we asked about what they'd be giving up for 2019 (see below) decided that saying 'Yes' to please people came top of their list. "Saying 'Yes' to others too often means saying 'No' to ourselves - this is key to understanding how we often cheat ourselves out of joy," explains Sally. "We conflate 'Yes' with being liked and we're afraid that if we say 'No' we'll be rejected or judged. But if we allow ourselves to say 'No' then we teach others around us that we place a value on ourselves and in doing so, model to them how to do the same."

That doesn't mean it's easy. Sharron Grainger, lead psychologist and psychotherapist at Connolly Counselling Centre explains: "Making substantial changes to rid yourself of what may be negative habits - for example saying 'Yes' when you mean 'No', putting untold pressure on yourself when you don't need to or comparing yourself to others - requires motivation, determination, perseverance and hard work.

"Habits are the brain's way of helping us by establishing a pattern that neurons can follow, known as neural pathways. They put us on autopilot and are difficult to break."

So, accept that it will take time and don't feel compelled to give up the first time you fail, new pathways in the brain can be made - but not overnight.

But in saying 'No' to a toxic relationship, negative self-talk, the pressure to please - whatever it is you need to get rid of - you can create better boundaries and a happier you. "Saying 'No' can be very healthy," says Sharron. "Taking this control back is great for your self-esteem. It takes courage to say 'No', but it may be time to let your own needs take priority."

So, forget long manifestos of over-ambitious promises for the next 12 months and decide instead what you'll be saying 'F*** it' to this New Year.

Sarah Breen

Co-author of The Importance of Being Aisling

Sarah Breen

In 2019 I've decided to stop saying 'Yes' to everything. As a natural-born people-pleaser, I'm forever spreading myself too thin but I've learned you can't pour from an empty vessel. So this year I'm going to be much more selective about everything from work projects to personal favours. And now that it's in print you can hold me to it.

Andrea Hayes

Presenter and author of the Mind, Body, Soul Journal

The first thing I have consciously decided to let go of is my own preconceived ideas about where I thought I would be by the time I reached my current age. When I look at the time I've spent measuring myself against others I suddenly realise it was the biggest time thief in my life. The place where most of the crime was being committed was on social media - I'm engaging in activities and behaviours I would have called stalking a few years ago!

So, no more cyber creeping, comparisons or lusting after anyone else's whitewashed version of their perfect life. In 2019, I am un-plugging and instead of being force-fed these images of perfection, that make me feel somehow inadequate, I am going to try to do a digital detox. Instead of following people who seem to be swallowing up so much of my time daily, I am going to follow my heart and start spending my time wisely. Instead of counting likes I will be counting my blessings. In truth, my little life is already pretty perfect to me.

Victoria-Mary Clarke

Life coach

I'm going to try and quit trying to do everything on my to-do list, and replying to every email and generally working so hard. I'm going to see what it's like to do absolutely nothing for a while every day - without making that into yet another thing I have to do.

Helen Cody

Fashion designer

Helen Cody

Given that I've had possibly the most challenging year of my life, as I was treated for breast cancer, this year, I've had plenty of time to reflect on this. I'm going to stop trying to be all things to all people. I'm letting go of polite obligations in favour of prioritising new personal goals. I'm going to stop letting things get to me and reward myself for the things I do well.

I'm going to retreat from the social media circus as much as possible as I think it can take over and can cause 'Fomo' which really isn't healthy and only say something when I feel it's worthwhile. There is way too much info swarming around the internet.

And I'm not going to feel guilty for enjoying my time off, as it's what life is all about - having great times with family and friends.

Carmel Harrington

Best-selling author of A Thousand Roads Home

It's time for me to say "F*** it" to my overuse of the word "Yes". As kids, my siblings and I were taught the importance of manners. Saying "No" was something that was frowned upon in our home, seen as impolite. I was raised well. Now I'm a parent too and I work hard to instil the same good manners with my kids.

But somehow over the past four decades or so, the need to be agreeable has gotten out of hand. I hate to disappoint anyone by uttering the word "No" when asked to do something that I have no time or interest to do. In my head, I'm saying "No. Nay. Never." But my mouth has a mind of its own and betrays me by blurting out: "Sure. No problem. Yes."

Enough is enough. The time has come to set some boundaries for me, take back control. I don't want to be over-scheduled any more because that means I'm over-stressed. And that's not good for anyone. While I know that there will be lots of incredible things I will happily agree to, saying 'No' when I need to will be the biggest gift I can give myself in 2019.

Jenny Dixon

Fair City actor and writer

Jenny Dixon

There’s a few things I want to stop in 2019. Overuse of single-use plastics is one of them. I think 2018 was the year of our awareness awaking for how mindlessly we’ve been using plastics, coffee cups, clingfilm and so on… So, wherever possible I’m going to avoid this and instead choose reusable bags and cups.

I’m also going to ditch the need to be busy all the time. It’s actually lovely to sit back and smell the roses and not to view it as a rare treat but instead view it as being  as productive (if not more) as running around like a headless chicken!


Dr Hazel Wallace

Food medic blogger and cookbook author

This year I’m giving up feeling I have to justify why I’m single, or not married, or don’t have kids. I get asked quite a lot why, as a successful woman in her late-20s, I’m still single. I think there is huge stigma attached to being single, particularly for women, and this pressure can often force people to find or stay in the wrong relationships, just for acceptance. The reality is that being single is about being in a relationship with yourself. Personally, I think it is the most intimate relationship we ever experience, which is why it’s so important to work on that first. Of course, I’m excited to meet someone in the future, but right now I feel very happy on my own and I don’t feel any less successful as a woman. It’s not about a lack of options, it’s a choice.


Dáithí Ó Sé

RTÉ presenter

Daithi O Se

Feeling obligated to say ‘Yes’ is on my ‘F*** it’ list. There was a time where I took the majority of weekend gigs that I was offered, and to be honest I enjoyed them. But in 2019 I’ll really have to love something to get me out of the house at the weekend, as I’m learning how to say ‘No!’ My days of doing every event and gig under the sun are gone. My wife Rita tells me of all the fun she has with our son Mícheál Óg, and I’m just missing too much and I don’t want that any more. Life isn’t all about money, life is about spending as much time with loved ones as possible. It’s a lot harder than I thought to say ‘No’, because other people don’t like to hear ‘No’. That’s why always saying ‘Yes’ is on my quit list and it’s there to stay.

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