At the end of last year I wrote a bucket list. It was a list of 10 things I wanted to do on my year off work.

I didn't get everything done.

The expedition to Cuba never happened. Nor did the trip to the Coachella music festival. Going overseas is a lot less attractive when you can't take your husband, who still has a full-time job.

A friend and I tried about four times to drive a camper van around the South Island. We even had a free vehicle at our disposal. Again, she has a fulltime job.

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On second thoughts, making a holiday video like Max Key wasn't such a great idea. You probably want something a bit more exotic than sitting on plastic chairs at the beach with your 90-year-old granny.

Also, you won't cycle the rail trail if your husband hates cycling with a passion. Apparently some bums are not sufficiently cushioned for extended periods on a banana seat.

Still, I did manage to do half the list and it was brilliant.

The law paper I planned to study at university became instead a full Honours year studying political science.

One of the best decisions I ever made.

Not only did I knock off a personal life goal of submitting a thesis on a question no other person has ever wanted answered, but I reminded myself how rewarding it is to learn new things.

I trimmed the hedges in the backyard (to be honest, they look terrible), I managed to play the guitar a few times and enrolled in a course to learn Te Reo Māori.

Best of all, I so badly wanted to watch a game of cricket at the Basin Reserve that it was the second thing I wrote on the bucket list. It was the first thing I did.

It wasn't just because the Basin Reserve has got to be one of the prettiest and most conveniently located grounds in the world, it was also because of how indulgent it seemed.

Who has the time to send a day at the Basin Reserve watching cricket?

Me.

And that brings me to the biggest lesson I learned this past year: to take time for myself. We rush from year to year working ever longer hours at our jobs, trying to pay down the mortgage while still affording Facebook-worthy holidays and clothes that make a statement about our coolness levels.

We rush through the grocery shopping, rush through the dinner preparations, rush through the kids' homework, bundle everyone off to sleep and then wake up the next day to do it again.

We feel guilty when we take a day off to watch a game of cricket, take a long weekend or even turn off the cellphone for a night.

Have you seen the country's productivity numbers? We're not getting more done by putting in longer hours. We're just doing the same but taking longer to do it.

This year, the thing I've enjoyed the most — even more than the cricket — has been how much less grumpy I've been with the people with whom I'm lucky enough to cruise through life.

With less stress, and more time to myself, I've been a better person to be around.

So, rather than writing yourself a list of New Year's resolutions that are supposed to make you a better person but will really only add to the things you have to do each day, maybe write yourself a list of things you'd like to do.

Even if you don't get all of them done, at least you'll know what it is that you really want this next year.