At the end of each year I pull out most of the New Year’s resolutions I’ve ever made — I now have them going back nearly two decades. They make for curious reading: some years they seem less like an account of what I intend to do with my life than what I don’t. I never took voice lessons, or wrote an original song for the guitar given to me six years ago by my wife, or even learned how to play that guitar. I never learned Spanish, or how to cook. I didn’t write that book about Obama, or create a television drama about Wall Street, or swim a 50-metre sprint in under 30 seconds, or ‘perform one act of charity each month big enough that it hurts at least a little bit to do it’.
After reading the lists of ways I’ve failed to improve myself, and things I’ve failed to accomplish, I set out to make the next year’s list.