As a few of you may be aware, the end of 2013 is imminent. I can’t say exactly how long, because I don’t know what time it will be when I publish this blog post. Bear with me, okay?
Let’s go on a little tirade about New Year’s. To start off, I love New Year’s. Okay, enough pleasantries.
*Disclaimer* you may not agree with some of my suggestions in this post; that’s cool, do your thang. I love saying I told you so. I don’t actually say it, I just kind of smirk slightly so you know I’m thinking it but I don’t say it so when you say “shut up” I can be like “what do you mean?” Anyways.
Any of you who have the slightest contact with society or our culture know that many people make things called New Year’s Resolutions – a list of things they want to do in the next year. And a lot of these resolutions are really dumb.
WAIT! LET ME EXPLAIN!
I too have made dumb resolutions – if only I had had something, a newspaper article or perhaps a blog post to guide me. Maybe then I wouldn’t have made those stupid resolutions. Let’s break it down shall we?
First of all, let’s acknowledge that everyone is different and everyone has different things that make them happy. Happy is the goal – the root of all resolutions is your happiness. And hell no, that’s not selfish. So let’s look at some resolutions that you’d be better off not making:
Anything too in excess
Listen, don’t get me wrong – resolving to lose weight or get in better shape is an admirable resolution. I’ve made it many times. However, there’s a correct way to do it (trust me, I write blogs on the internet). Sticking with the “getting in shape” example, many people will make the resolution to go to the gym every day – or some other unreasonable amount. If you already go to the gym six times a week and you want to make that seven, okay, fine – you’re not who this is intended for. Go away. If you’re someone who never goes to the gym, and you resolve to buy a gym membership and go every day all year until you can run an ultra marathon while carrying your mom on your back, well – you’re going to be disappointed. Let’s look at it realistically; this is a drastic life-changing resolution you’re making here. If you don’t frequent the gym already, chances are you won’t do so immediately, just because the calendar flips to January. What is more likely to happen is you’ll shell out big bucks for a membership at GoodLife, go every day for the first week of January, then lose motivation. This is not saying that EVERYONE will stop going, just the majority of people. It happened to me several years in a row. So then you’re left paying $23.60 every two weeks for a membership you barely use, feeling even shittier about yourself than before because now not only do you not exercise, but you are paying to not exercise, and you TRIED to exercise and couldn’t keep it up. You feel bad, which is in fact the opposite of happy, which is what you should be aiming for.
There are a couple alternatives to this. Make a small resolution; instead of pledging to buy a gym membership and haul ass every day, maybe think about purchasing a set of weights, and starting to exercise at home occasionally. Or get a free trial; I know gyms like GoodLife offer a free three- or seven-day trial, during which you can see if it’s right for you. Start exercising in small increments; I remember I’d get so pumped to…well, get pumped…that I’d go for three or four days in a row. Then I’d be excruciatingly sore, and use that to justify skipping a day. Then two. Then a week. Then the rest of the year. If you start small – i.e. I’ll lift weights/go to the gym once a week to start, then I can increase it – not only are you more likely to get into it, you’ll be happy doing it. Also, you won’t be clogging up the gym for us REAL go-getters – those of us who go like, TWICE a week sometimes.
This also applies for things like quitting junk food or smoking, etc. Don’t wait until January 1 and then quit cold turkey – things like this require prep. And yes I know there are undoubtedly people in the world who can quit anything cold turkey (I quit coffee on a whim for three months one time…just sayin’), but for the majority, it will be a gradual process. Wean down on the amount of junk food you eat/pop you drink/cigarettes you smoke BEFORE New Year’s Eve. Then, when the big day comes and the calendar flips to 2014, you can finish the process you started months prior.
Things out of your control
Oh god, I’m also guilty of this one. The best example I can think of this one would be something like “I resolve to find a boy/girlfriend who meets these qualities and make him/her fall in love with me” etc. etc. etc. Speaking from experience, this is just asking for trouble. Yes, making this resolution may make you more sociable, and yes, maybe that new confidence will lead to you reeling in that special someone you were always dreaming of. But more likely, it will pressure you to go into situations you may not be comfortable with – someone who hates the club going to the club in the hopes of finding a cuddle-buddy – and keep you incessantly trying to find a partner. A few things happen in this desperation mode: first, you’ll probably settle. If you’ve made a pact with yourself to find someone within 365 days, people who don’t match what you’re looking for suddenly…well, do. In the end, this may work out, but it probably won’t. You’ll also have that aura of desperation emanating from you, and no one wants to witness that.
This also applies to things like resolving to win the lottery, or to see the Toronto Maple Leafs win the Cup. Just…just don’t do it, okay?
Stupid things that make no difference
While the above text basically warns against resolving to do anything you’re too unlikely to succeed at, you also shouldn’t waste your time making shitty little resolutions that don’t result in anything. “I resolve to play X-Box 360 for only two hours a day” is an okay resolution. I mean, pretty uninspired, but maybe with that extra nine or ten hours you’ve suddenly freed up you can take your dog for a walk, or go see a movie with friends, or do a crossword or something. There’s potential. “I resolve to split my ten hours of X Box 360 time evenly between Halo 4 and Call of Duty 13” though, is just…stupid. With the possible exception of your online friends, no one cares what game you’re playing. If your significant other gets mad at you because you’ve been playing X Box 360 for six hours and ignoring them, they won’t be pacified with “oh but babe, I’ve only been play Gears of War for 25 minutes, all that other time was Pokémon Stadium!” (I assume most gamers have more than one system – I know Pokémon Stadium isn’t on X Box so shut up.)
Stupid things that would make a difference if you did them, but you totally won’t
“Whatever do you mean, Cam? How would something that makes a difference be stupid?” No, the ACT isn’t stupid, just the thought that you could do it, or that you will do it. Resolving to give every homeless person in Toronto five dollars is noble as fuck, but unless you’re a millionaire with nothing else to do, and an excellent map of Toronto, it’s not gonna happen. Sorry. This category extends to all the super-sappy shit people say, but never do and probably don’t even ever have the intention of doing*. Good resolution: “I will pay for someone behind me in the Tim’s drive-thru on one occasion” (I did this the other day by the way. Karma what what). Bad resolution: “I will buy all the donuts and distribute them to the bums on the street.” Good resolution: “I will volunteer at the soup kitchen once a week and dole out soup to those less fortunate than me.” Bad resolution: “I will build a home single-handedly for every damn person that wants one.” Slightly hyperbolic, most likely – you never know with kids these days – but you get the idea. If you want to make a difference, go to Peru and teach them English. Or go to Costa Rica and save some turtles. Or Guatemala and – as a team – build a home for a family. Lots of options.
*People who make noble resolutions they have no intention of fulfilling, just to look good in front of the drunk people at a New Year’s Party they probably weren’t even invited to just…ugh. Just don’t.
Starting a hobby that you have no interest in, or no way to actively pursue
We all have our hobbies. Video games, laundry, passive-aggressive blog posts, the list goes on. Hobbies are fun. Hobbies keep us sane when the internet isn’t working, or we’re over our data for the month (note: this only applies to non-internet related hobbies. So no Candy Crush). But for the love of all that is holy, do not make a resolution to engage in a hobby that you a) have no interest in, or b) have no way to actively pursue. Much like the heading for this category says. Now, people, don’t take this the wrong way; picking up new hobbies can be a good thing. But if it’s like, 11:50 p.m. on New Year’s Eve and you’re like “oh shit, I need a resolution. Okay, um, this year I will become a master of…collecting pennies?” that’s going to be one shitty year. The same goes for unattainable goals: if you turn on the TV and see Lindsey Vonn fanning a perfect sheaf of powdered snow down a gorgeous mountainside as the sun peaks over the snow-capped mountain in the background (unlikely, because she’s injured) and decide “hell, this year I’m going to become a skier!” but you live like 1000 kilometres from the nearest ski hill (in the, I dunno, desert? Southern US? Sorry I’m not a geologist and don’t know every god damn ski hill in the world), it’s probably impractical to think you’ll go skiing more than once. If at all. And it’ll be awful expensive to do it. Just sayin’. You’d be better off collecting pennies.
Holy shit this is turning into a novel – and the last thing I want you to do while finishing off a year is read. So I’ll give you a tl;dr:
Don’t just make resolutions for the sake of making resolutions. If you’re going to make one, or several, make them something you honestly think you can, and will, achieve. Resolve to pay it forward sometime in the year. Resolve to not spend so much time inside. Resolve to budget your money and not spend every pay cheque on shirts and jackets just because they’re on sale. Resolve to go on a trip somewhere, and to make and follow through with the necessary preparation for it (this might be a bit of a big one, so maybe don’t try this, nerds). Spend more time with family, don’t sweat small things, send your girlfriend Candy Crush lives when she asks, and maybe learn a song or two on the guitar/flute/instrument of your choosing. But hell, don’t resolve to buy a $1200 Fender and teach yourself to play it – small steps, child. Small steps.
Thanks to Laura “Raura” Zielinski for contributing to this list. Follow this asshole on twitter:
and of course, moi:
and have a happy new year. Make smart decisions.