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New Year Resolutions: Making a promise for a much better 2022

Some well-known local faces tell Aine Toner whether they will be following tradition and committing to something new from January 1


Brian Kennedy

Brian Kennedy

Anne Marie McAleese

Anne Marie McAleese

Presenters: The BBC’s Declan Harvey and Tara Mills. Credit: Stephen Hamilton

Presenters: The BBC’s Declan Harvey and Tara Mills. Credit: Stephen Hamilton

Dan Gordon is a serial maker — and breaker — of resolutions

Dan Gordon is a serial maker — and breaker — of resolutions

Emma Heatherington is determined to learn how to play a musical instrument

Emma Heatherington is determined to learn how to play a musical instrument

Gerry Armstrong is keen to promote wellbeing for himself and others. Credit: Stephen Hamilton

Gerry Armstrong is keen to promote wellbeing for himself and others. Credit: Stephen Hamilton

Claire Allan

Claire Allan

Belinda O'Neill

Belinda O'Neill

Anthony Miller

Anthony Miller

Robin Elliott

Robin Elliott


Brian Kennedy

Musician Brian Kennedy will be performing early in January: www.ticketmaster.co.uk

My resolutions are for my gigs to stop channelling Kangaroos and quit bouncing away from me! I really miss singing in some wonderful and strange places.

I think I’m a confusing hybrid of nomad and homebird. It turns out that my factory setting is “very optimistic”, well that’s the only sane explanation after a quadruple heart bypass this summer and I’m still able to smile.

Hopefully Covid will get Covid and cough itself off the planet, leaving us to fight the normal fight and reclaim our waistlines and self-confidence.Here’s to 2022. Drinks anyone...?

Anne Marie McAleese, presenter of Your Place And Mine on BBC Radio Ulster

I hope I continue to be in love with life and appreciate the simple things.

If the last couple of years have taught me anything it’s how resilient we can be if we find contentment in the everyday, like noticing a robin on a fencepost or a blackbird busily digging for worms; watching the sun rise and set; walking somewhere new; chatting to neighbours and spending valuable time with people that we shouldn’t take for granted. Trying not to worry about things that we can’t control and concentrating on what we can do for each other.

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I love what Hugo Duncan says: “Get down on your knees every day and thank God you’re still on your feet.”

Author Emma Heatherington, whose latest book The Promise is available now

I’m normally not a big one for the pressure of New Year Resolutions related to dieting or big life changes that are impossible to stick to (though I have done Dry January and was very pleased with myself), but this year I’m feeling inspired — not to cut something out of my life but to add something in the form of a challenge to learn a new skill or hobby.

A friend in her 30s recently learned to swim and this got me thinking. I’ve decided I will fulfil a long-held ambition to learn to play a musical instrument. Now, which one do I try out first? I’ll have fun deciding over the festive period.

Actor and playwright Dan Gordon (twitter @heresaclue2)

I started keeping and breaking resolutions from the age of six. I love them, but I no longer advertise them.

The reason is by February I’ve stopped or restarted whatever I had resolved. But for about five glorious weeks I’m the healthiest/fittest/tidiest/most organised Ulsterman. Then for the rest of the year I’m back to me, but I’m OK with that because by then I’ve realised I was happy the way I was.

Chef Paula McIntyre, whose Hamely Kitchen series is available on BBC iPlayer

Every year I make resolutions that are normally broken around the second week in January. For 2022 I resolve to try and continue in the same vein.

Last year, because of lockdown, I did things I’d never dreamt I would ever do, like taking part in a Big Telly Theatre Company online Eighties wedding/cookalong production, filming a TV series for Clean Slate productions and writing a column for this paper. Pre-2020 most of my work revolved around large events that have now virtually disappeared and because of this I’ve cooked in smaller venues, which I’ve absolutely loved.

A highlight of 2021 was cooking in Mussenden Temple. In 2022 I want to keep cooking, learning about food and enjoying what I do. Once again, this year I’ll say yes to everything — and it’s also the year I’m going to learn how to fly fish.

Tara Mills, presenter of BBC Newsline and Evening Extra and co-host of Year ’21 podcast, available on BBC Sounds

I’ve never made a New Year Resolution. Actually, it’s the worst time of year to make one, it puts so much pressure on at a time that can be quite difficult, especially this year and last year.

We had the poet Ann McMaster on recently and she read a poem about how we find joy in the midst of all this madness. She said “we use winter to prepare for spring”, and it really hit me — that is the advice, just knuckle down and go easy on yourself and be nice to yourself and kind to yourself. If it suits you to join a gym, fill your boots.

But for me, January, February, it’s time to maybe regroup psychologically, but to do it gently and do it with the anticipation of spring. Maybe that’s the thing to do, to squirrel away, read a good book and watch movies and stay indoors.

One thing I would quite like to do at some point next year is to learn some sign language because we have new signers on BBC Newsline that have just joined.

It just strikes me; I’m sitting beside them at lunchtime across the week and I’m writing things on pieces of paper. I’ve learned bits and pieces, but I would just like to do a proper kind of course.

It’s going to be a big year politically, so workwise, I’ve had my head buried in books about 1921 for the last year and there’s been a weekly goal for me, so I’m quite looking forward to not having that and not having the pressure of that, to switch my focus to current again, back to what’s happening in the here and now.

Denise Watson, who presents U105 Breakfast with Maurice Jay

I don’t believe in rigidly sticking to thinking on January 1 — “get everything out of the house or join a gym”. I wouldn’t believe in that, setting yourself under that pressure and you feel like you’ve failed if you start on January 1 and then it’s gone.

The one thing I do every year is to resolve to to read more books and fewer magazines. As it goes on, it gets easier and easier every year.

Also, I’m looking more at cooking. I learned how to cook during lockdown in 2020 and I want to try new recipes and not be afraid to do that. I’m cooking from scratch a lot more now than I ever have and I just want to continue that.

The other thing is drinking water. My eldest daughter drinks a lot of water and is always telling me to drink more.

Turning 50 was a big thing for me this year and I want to maintain the weight loss and fitness, so getting the dog out for an hour a day, that’s what I’ll be trying to do.

I think it’s good to make resolutions, like the extra phone call to your mum or doing little things to make people happy is nice.

My neighbour is very good to our wee dog and gives him biccies over the fence. Every Christmas we hang a bottle of red wine over the back of the fence. Lockdown has brought us closer to a lot of neighbours and we want to ensure we maintain that.

Former international footballer Gerry Armstrong, whose autobiography My Story, My Journey, is available now

For the last few years I’ve been talking about wellbeing and trying to keep everybody healthy, mentally and physically.

If I can’t go to the gym, I’ll be doing a lot of walking and jogging, trying to do whatever exercise I can to stay physically active and mentally active, that’s the key. What else can we do?

I love hearing people laugh and I like to see people having fun and enjoying themselves, so that’s going to be difficult if there’s another lockdown. Music and laughter are the two ways forward for me.

I like easy listening music, everything: anything from Irish folk music, The Beatles — I love them all.

There are loads of good musicians out there, I really like Snow Patrol, for instance. Music can really put a smile on your face.

Declan Harvey, presenter of BBC Newsline and Evening Extra and co-host of Year ’21 podcast

I’ve long since given up on setting New Year Resolutions because, as far as I’m aware, I have never kept any of them.

It’s always been the fairly obvious stuff of getting fitter, etc, which is not to say that I don’t spend the rest of the year thinking about how I can improve myself, because I do, but I’m not sure whether that ever happens either.

My view on self-improvement is that it should probably be something that we should think of 52 weeks of the year rather than just this time of year, because, actually, all I want to do at this time of year is switch off and not worry about it. I’ll start a new job in January, taking on Newsline alongside Tara, so the new year is going to bring a lot of changes in that respect so I’m kind of holding my breath and getting ready for that.

Ironically, it will probably bring with it the notion of losing weight anyway, but that’s not a resolution, that’s just something I’ve been thinking about, so that’s a result of a new job rather than of a New Year Resolution.

I am excited for the new year. I think 2021 has been tougher than most people thought it was going to be.

We got through 2020 and we were all looking forward to 2021 and I don’t think it has delivered the release that we were hoping for.

We’ve got fingers crossed for 2022 — it’s certainly going to be a busy year.

Designer Reudi Maguire; www.ruedi.co.uk

To be completely honest, for as long as I can remember I have not subscribed to the tradition of making resolutions despite the ever expanding waistline.

It’s not because I think I have a perfect life and all the answers.

I believe in taking each day as it comes and not giving yourself a hard time if things don’t go to plan.

Truly, I believe that we don’t make mistakes. If we set ourselves a goal and don’t achieve it, to me that isn’t failure, it’s simply the outcome. Learn from it and move on.

I understand that for some this is easier said than done, and perhaps we need some structure to outline our success.

However, if we just allowed ourselves the opportunity of taking risks every now and then, who knows where life will take you.

Author Claire Allan, whose latest book Ask No Questions is out now

I'm not a huge fan of resolutions because January is hard enough without adding in dieting or going to the gym or cold-water swimming into the mix!

But if there is anything I'm hoping to do in 2022 it's to work on my own mental health a bit more. Particularly trying to work on not overthinking things or tying myself up in knots about things I can't control. The last two years have taught us that we have very little power over the bigger picture so the more we can learn to just go with the flow, the better. It might slow down the rate at which my hair is turning grey too!

I've also vowed to stop putting off all those little lunch breaks and coffee dates with friends, and to treat myself to manicures and pampering sessions. It's important to remember I'm not just someone's mum, or an author in her turret writing alone. It's self-care after all!

Motivational speaker and author Belinda O’Neill (twitter @beinspiredtobe)

“A new year, a chance to release old worries and stress,

life is lived one moment at a time,

this year give every moment your best” (O’Neill, B. 2021)

This sums up my thoughts on the emergence of the new year. It’s not so much about making resolutions, rather, committing to doing your best and your best is always more than enough.

Resolutions are often broken within days or weeks of the new year, as then tend to be overpowering and not sustainable. This new year, commit to being gentle with yourself and others and to focusing on the present moment.

“Be kind to your mind, because your body is listening.” (O’Neill, B. 2021)

TV and radio commentator Anthony Miller (twitter @Antmiller101)

I am not a fan of resolutions per se as I think that people make them knowing fine well, they aren’t likely to keep them.

However, the New Year’s Eve Bells are magic for me. That moment to consciously put the year prior behind me and face the incoming year with hope and the belief that the clock has been reset and we have a whole new year to fill with whatever we desire.

I have signed with a new TV agent, and we have been talking about some exciting things. The conversations have been about rebranding to incorporate my new skills as an educator and lawyer into my media world. I really looking forward to seeing what we can do with that.

I have just last week obtained my accreditation as a Civil and Commercial Mediation –allowing me to work on civil and commercial disputes both domestically and internationally.

I also, have a few loose ends which should hopefully be tied off by the summer and the following months will hopefully bring some new beginnings which I’m excited for.

This year I hope to focus more on my physical well-being. I have given a good amount of time to my educational and professional development, and I feel it’s now time to match that effort with my physical health. I won’t be going on a diet or joining a gym class. However, I will be more mindful of food intake and exercise.

I am also going to take more time to groom and preen. I know that sounds a bit funny, vain even perhaps - but I truly believe that taking an hour or two out to, dye the beard, trim the eyebrows, or to lather on some moisturiser is actually really good for the soul.

It is soothing physically, and it is a reminder to our inner selves that we are worthy of the time and the effort. In fact, I would encourage everyone to schedule time in their diary especially for this. At least one hour per week should be sufficient and I promise the results are not just good to see but it really, really does switch on the inner glow too.

Whatever the year brings, I am excited, open and ready to adapt to it - BRING IT ON!

Radio and TV broadcaster Robin Elliott (twitter @robinelliott)

I always make the same resolutions every year - get some exercise, eat more healthy food etc. I've lost count how many gym memberships I have signed up for and never used. So, this year all I plan to do is have a more balanced life and take more time out for myself.

We have also had so many of our travel plans cancelled over the past 18 months so hopefully a couple of nice holidays is on the horizon.

I will also be working on a couple of projects that I really want to do including some new music. It’s been ten years since I released my version of Common People, so time to get back into the studio!

I also believe you are never too old to learn something new, so I have signed up for a course in January to learn a new skill but more of that later!

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