As 2016 nears its end, I am left with the same frustration cum resolution – how to do more with that most precious commodity of all: time.

It was like it was before, only maybe a little busier. Some of the shops had changed but the atmosphere hadn’t. It was cold, like it used to be. Lancaster was largely as I remembered it. This was a good thing I think. I hadn’t planned on going up to Lancaster, but a dodgy car battery was attended to along with the advice to give the car a good run out, so we headed north, to where we both went to university albeit a few years apart.

Parking, behind the Town Hall as I try to do on my infrequent returns, was in itself an educational experience. No coins. Bugger. Luckily, there’s an app for that. Even better, after spending minutes downloading and setting up said app, it revealed that the parking was free! It was a bank holiday. Oh yes, there it says exactly that on the sign. Only I hadn’t read that line on the sign. Neither had the half a dozen or so other people who’d walked up to pay whilst I was fiddling with the app. So there you go, at the end of 2016, in a world where the population at large have had enough of the havoc caused by globalisation and the destabilising effect of job-replacing technology, an app has just saved me £3. Ta very much.

Walking in and out of the shops, edging between fellow sale-rail browsers, there was no sign that consumer spending was tight for many in Lancaster. Alas nothing caught my eye. Not until we got to Waterstones that was. No surprise there. A book about quizzes, a fantastic Matthew Paris-edited book of insults and another one from the 1001 series – this time a book of quotations. I do love a good quote. I have a resolution formulating in my mind. I’m just not sure whether I’m brave enough. No new books in 2017. I have hundreds already and I do a lot of reading online or in newspapers or magazines anyway. Maybe these were the last three for twelve months or so. Maybe not.

Do more reading and less buying of books. Do more writing. Do more exercise. All strangely familiar with what I’d aimed to do in 2016. Yet unsurprisingly I didn’t necessarily do all of the above. As I’ve written elsewhere on this blog, time is by far the most precious commodity which people have. In 2017, maybe my resolution should just be to make better use of my time. To prioritise better and to waste less time on things which don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. My future self wishes me good luck with that.

That said, I don’t think I’ve wasted too much time in 2016. It hasn’t been a bad year. New job. An election victory. A term as chairman of the Parish Council (impressive, eh). Maybe with these changes, I shouldn’t be surprised that time is causing me issues. I work, collaborate and conspire, sorry, socialise with great people. Indeed, I am blessed by the people in my life. It is a joy to be able to spend time and converse with a range of fascinating people. Again, when I can spend time with such people, it is perhaps no surprise that I don’t spend more time in isolation with a book or a pen (or keyboard).

2017 marks the start of my fourth decade on planet Earth. Looking at the huge number of talents who’ve not made it into 2017, it does make me think about the kind of contribution one wants to make. To consider the legacy you might leave; albeit hopefully in many decades time. To not stand still, to make the most of time, to set and go after my goals. That is what 2017 needs to be for me. The world now is vastly different to the world I was born in. I was discussing with a friend just the other day, that the world now is probably more dangerous and many more places not safe to travel to now, than when I was born. The winds of progress seem to have slowed at best, or maybe to be locked in some frontal clash with the winds of populist-fuelled chaos.

The next decade seems at the moment to be very unpredictable, almost increasingly so each day. Whilst some might see this as a reason to seek shelter, to see out the storm, there is great imperative for people to step out and brave the weather and to help chart a course to a better destination. It is easy to become trapped in the habit of daily life, of the routines of work and home. Given this tendency, it is even more important to reflect and take stock and review one’s course.

High-mindedness is easy to write in prose of course. It is equally non-committal to grandiloquently pontificate along such grounds in polite company. In the artificial luxury of surplus time which teachers enjoy during school holidays, one can get very ambitious about what they’re going to do. At the end of a busy day or a long week, faced with the alternative of a box set binge and a takeaway pizza, it takes real willpower to stay the course. Choosing between another committee meeting or a evening on the couch, is it any wonder why so many of the best laid plans go to waste.

So I’m going to try and keep it simple for 2017:

  1. Be more selective in what I choose to do.
  2. Find a balance between doing things which matter to me and things which just need to be done.
  3. Do what I do to the best of my ability and try to enjoy every moment.