Calm down. I’m not attacking you; mine is, too. We’re all idiots. We’re all chasing something in hopes of what it will bring, and we probably won’t reach either of our goals.
This is not a list. I’m not about to give you 10 tricks. Though, if it makes it easier to read, feel free to add numbers every two or three sentences. I’m not saying that you’re “typical,” either, so calm down– you’re super-fucking special. And as interesting and unique as I consider myself to be, I have (at least secretly and shamefully) wished for the some of the following and I bet you have, too.
So here’s why you’re wrong: I hate to see you waste your time. Unless you’re a sociopath, keep making lists and stay inside.
Lose weight or eat healthy or exercise more or go on a diet or lose 20 pounds.
Here’s what is amazing: not only did this resolution make it on every one of my lists in one incarnation, but it also made it on several lists in several DIFFERENT incarnations.
I found a list from when I was 22 (I know, because I had cleverly written 22 resolutions to go along with my age that year). “Wear a size 2” was on that list. I don’t believe I succeeded that year, but I know I wear a size 2 now. And… holy shit. I’m not happier.
Ask yourself why.
Now, if you’re obese, I get it: you’d like to live. But if you, like me, are in that class of women who always wants to lose a little/gain a little/change a little, ask why. And dig the fuck in. Now, take the pressure of yourself. It’s not about weight, I bet. Spend your time obsessing over something more fun. Like back flips.
Drink less. Honestly, I think this one’s an excuse to go way overboard on New Year’s, since it’ll be your last reeeeal night of drinking. Why do you want to drink less? Focus on the things you’re missing out on. Or, if you say this flippantly because you have a real problem and it’s a cry for help, go to an A.A. meeting as a “hilarious gag.” Show up right before it starts. Leave right when it ends. You won’t have to talk to anyone if you don’t want to.
Learn something new. Everyone should always be doing this. If you have to write a resolution about it, you are failing at life.
Quit smoking. Fucking do it. If this is just your New Year’s resolution and you’re not trying to kick this habit year-round, then you don’t really want to. I’ll bet you’re in that group of 20-somethings that thinks it’s cute to smoke and isn’t really addicted yet. But you will be. So keep casually saying you want to quit… and see where you are in 10 years.
Save money. God, this is heavy. It’s also really near “stress less” on many lists. So… why do you hate yourself and want to be unhappy?
Volunteer. This reflects our society’s need to do something big and important instead of something small and real. Am I saying don’t volunteer? No, volunteering is awesome; it’s been proven to make you happier. Find ways to “volunteer” in your own life on a small scale. Don’t be the equivalent of the guy throwing trash at a dolphin saying, “but I drive a hybrid, so it evens out…”
Fall in love… Add “with yourself.” Not because how can expect someone to love you until you love yourself?? but just because it’s better and you have control over it.
Spend more time with family. No. Just make the time you actually do spend with them quality. They don’t want to see you more if it seems like a chore.
“Fuck you!” you say. “My resolutions are great, and you’re a bitch. Also, this was a list.”
Valid points. So for you who insist on making grand gestures (which, let’s be honest, are more fun/memorable/easier), ask… why?
Ask why it’s so important to you. Ask why you haven’t succeeded. Or why you haven’t done it yet. Those “Why?”s can be really telling. If you did succeed, ask what then? Think of it as an exercise. Then you can cross something off your list.
Get help. I don’t mean therapy, but I also don’t not mean therapy. I just mean there’s no shame in asking for help or advice, especially if it’s something you can’t figure out or you’re stuck on or something you really care about (losing weight, saving money, etc.). There’s no shame in trying. There’s only shame in shame. And that truly is a waste of time.
Andel Sudik has performed improv at iO, the Playground and the Annoyance and sketch comedy at Second City on a cruise ship, in theatricals, with the National Touring Company and on the e.t.c. stage. She is an alumni of Boom Chicago in Amsterdam, currently teaches sketch and improv in Chicago and occasionally writes things while looking out her window at the lake. Follow her on twitter @AndelSudik or check out her website andelsudik.com.