With every New Year comes resolutions. If you didn’t post a long Facebook status about it, you at least had that voice inside your head that said, “It’s 2015 already? Well fuck. I should probably do something with my life.” It’s hard not to reflect on what you’ve accomplished when something as significant as the last digit in a date line changes, but how can you be expected to improve so vastly in a single year?
Making vague, impossible-to-keep resolutions leads to inevitable failure. So here is a list of those resolutions and a few simpler ones that will make 2015 that much more manageable:
1. Lose Weight
If you didn’t assume I was going to start with this one, you’re a fool! A fool, I say! But this is at the top of the list because this is at the top of everyone’s list. I am in no way discouraging the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle, but let’s try to set some more manageable and specific goals. You have to crawl before you can run. And pretending like you are going to run everyday in January is not only never going to happen, but is also widely ill-advised.
The key is to take tiny steps to the ultimate goal. Maybe only order one McDouble when you stop by the golden arches. You could stop drinking the chocolate milk out of your bowl of Cocoa Puffs in the morning. Even the tiniest gesture of not asking for double pepperoni on your pizza can be the small step you need to get on the right track.
2. Travel More
If you want to see some beautiful cliffs in Ireland, then this is a great resolution. Otherwise, you are just going to make yourself unhappy because you’re bad at planning. If you want to “travel more,” low expectations are your best friend. If you live in Chicago, travel to Milwaukee (2 hour drive). If you live in San Diego, travel to Tijuana (45 minute drive, bring money/protection). If you live in West Virginia, go to Regular Virginia (1 minute walk, depending on where you start).
There is a good chance that you haven’t seen some pretty cool parts of your own neighborhood. Don’t make “travel” this elusive, expensive thing. Make it a simple thing that you can do when you have a long lunch break.
3. Stress Less
I am only three resolutions into this list and I’m noticing a pattern. I think we need to stop using “less” and “more” to describe what we want in the New Year. Particularly with stress, there is no way to measure how much you are experiencing. And much to the chagrin of people that have stress-screamed at another human being’s face, it’s not exactly within the realm of personal control to just stop being stressed out.
Asking to be less stressed is to ask for fewer stress-inducing things to be present in your life. If you have a test that you have to pass, you better be stressed. If you don’t know if you got your significant other the right gift, stress is the appropriate response. What you really want is to react to that stress in a productive and positive way. If someone stresses you out, take a few breaths. If they really stress you out, go get a massage. If you feel like you’re going to explode, eat a pint of ice cream. There are always alternatives to stressing out. Stress-screaming is almost never the answer. At least, not into someone else’s face.
4. Quit Something
This is usually a good idea. But the New Year is rarely the time or the place to do it. You might not realize it now, but trying to turn over a new leaf while everyone is angry from the cold and partying until midnight is kind of a bad idea. The fact that New Year’s resolutions are exclusively attempted during the coldest months of the year is kind of a cosmic joke. “I mean, it’s zero degrees outside. I want to come to an AA meeting, but I don’t have any gloves.”
If you do want to use the New Year a stepping stone to clean living, then be serious about it. There are plenty of achievable goals along the path to recovery. You could find treatment centers or search for appropriate programs. You could even take that first step and tell someone that you need help. A New Year’s resolution is a great excuse to get this process started with the help of your friends and family.
5. Be Happy
Like, are you fucking serious? No, I’m kidding. In theory, this is a great resolution. But again, it is way too vague to even begin to define it, let alone achieve it. Being happy is not only relative, it’s also an incredibly unimaginative resolution. Hopefully, this is on your New Year’s resolution list as more of a reminder to yourself than an actual goal. Like when your boss puts, “Have fun!” as the last item on a long list of instructions for how to rewire a printer.
We all want to be happy. Presumably, that’s why we are making these resolutions. We want to improve our lives by losing weight, traveling more, stressing less and quitting stuff. Wanting to be happy isn’t an exclusive feeling to New Year’s Eve, but we are made even more aware of the expectation on that day. But, like I said, happiness is relative. Don’t let your weight, your passport, your anxiety medication or your vices get in the way. Just be you and have a happy New Year.