This is the year. I can feel it. This year you are going to set some goals, step up to the plate, and finally do that thing that we’ve all been listening to you talk about– but never do– for the last five or so years. This. Is. Your. Year. I’m sure of it.
On second thought, probably not. It’s not your year. And here’s why: people who actually do things, long-term, sustainable things, do them on every single day of the year EXCEPT January 1st. January 1st is international quitters day. It’s the one day when quitters around the world band together to make commitments that they really do intend to keep for one-to-three months. Depending.
And that’s okay. I come from quitters. I can quit with the best of them. I’ve lined up, signed up, read up, anted up– you name it, I’ve done it. I’ve joined the gym, the team, the group, all with the best of intentions. Because by December 29th, we’re all feeling the need for a change. Yes, you’ve actually been fat since May (of 2006), but in December, in the hard light of a dying Christmas tree, you feel it more acutely. You have overdone it. You must take this opportunity to reflect and make changes. But therein lies the rub. If you were committed, you would have started yesterday or last week. You would have done something about it the moment it became clear you were orca fat, not after you realized you were orca fat, ate your way through the holidays, and now have post-season guilt. (You know how I know? Your resolve is melted by three simple words: Super Bowl Party. The mere mention of this dip-laden, pigs-in-a-blanket festooned, beer guzzling football holiday makes your nacho molars quiver with anticipation.)
But all is not lost. Having been on the other side of this surge to purge and slide into inevitable failure, I have learned many things. Namely, I have learned not to make resolutions or, if I do, I keep them to myself. My failures will be my own personal burden. I don’t need the whole family texting me under the guise of support.
I find that rather than focusing at this time of year on the myriad ways I can do the hard work of truly changing, it can be simpler and, in some ways, more rewarding to just create the illusion of perfection and accomplishment. In much the same way that some folks create a life of glitz and glamour by incurring incredible credit card debt and suffering in silence, it can be painfully easy to just fake your way into gilded perfection. It just takes practice. And some guidelines.
- Stop. Just stop. Whatever you’re doing that’s ridiculously over-the-top and completely unnecessary, stop. Quit making your own mole from scratch. Quit sewing your own stockings. Quit faking those orgasms. Not only are you making yourself crazy, you’ve completely missed the point. Why do something in 2 hours that can be completed in twenty minutes with a debit card and creativity? I’m not suggesting that you remove all love, attention, and personality from your life, but for fuck’s sake you could be getting three times the credit in half the time if you just bought some Rick Bayless mole (it’s better than yours), ordered the stockings from some nice old lady on Etsy, and acquired a vibrator and a few strategic migraines. Life does not have to be so complicated. The less time you spend complicating, more time you have to appear perfect. A mole wielding, perfect-holiday-mantel owning, one-woman show with a post-coital, self-induced glow. BAM.
- Put champagne in your fridge and tea in your cupboard. It’s pretty much guaranteed that 90% of the time that you ask an unexpected house guest if they would like anything, they decline. They usually don’t want to stay. They are only sitting in your living room for a few short moments as not to be rude or giveaway how horrified they are about your homemaking skills. By doing the above, you achieve two very important things. 1. By the very virtue of suggesting that you keep those two things on hand, they begin to question all of their assumptions about you. There is no way that someone with iced champagne and loose leaf tea on hand can be the hot mess that I have come to believe. 2. If they accept, and you are called upon to produce the aforementioned champagne or tea, their minds will immediately explode at the magnanimous gesture of opening a fresh bottle of bubbly for the mere task of supplying them with refreshment. You cannot lose. You have beaten your foe and they have been left confused and in awe. So all those resolutions about being more organized or better at keeping house are bullshit. Buy the refreshments.
- Buy an oversized cashmere sweater. Whether the issue is your orca fatness or your inability to remember to bathe, an oversized cashmere (or very nice merino) will solve all of your problems. (I believe this to be true for both men and women.) You do not need to jog, neither do you need to resolve to bathe more frequently. What you need to do is buy an expensive sweater that is appropriately baggy and then perch yourself on your couch with a warm mug of who the fuck cares and watch people marvel at your effortless grace. I for one have never, ever seen someone lounging in a cashmere sweater and thought “what a fucking failure.” I immediately self-note how comfortable and expensive they look. If possible, you can buy a book– a smart people book like a Pulitzer or Man Booker winner– and leave it dogeared on the table near you. No matter what time of day, it should always appear that you were startled out of a deep intellectual mating with a book. Your haphazard hair and barefeet are simply the price you’ve paid for your intellectual pursuits. Do not feel self conscious. Your shapelessness is the product of expensive wool. Your hygiene forgivable under the circumstances.
- Curate your goddamn social channels. If you keep posting what a selfie-taking, self-indulgent hot mess you are, it’s going to be an uphill battle to convince anyone you’re not. The first rule of any resolution is mystery and in order to maintain a sense of mystery you need to be MYSTERIOUS. No one cares what you ate for dinner. No one wants to read your veiled cries for attention. (If you want for me to pray for you/send good vibes/talk to my invisibles, do me a fucking solid and tell me what about. Your vague “today is going to be incredibly emotional, pray for me” makes me angry and spiteful.) Also, that mirror face you’ve perfected that you think makes you look jaunty and sexy actually makes you look like a frightened sloth, so unpucker your lips, quit giving your 786 friends– who include your mother and grandmother– the fuck me stare, and smile for the damn camera. The golden rule of selfies: if it’s a good picture because you’ve contorted yourself unrecognizable, it’s actually not a good picture.
- Buy good candles. Congrats on peeling the sticker off your Glade multiscent candles. Too bad it still smells like the bathroom of a Hobby Lobby in your living room. Nice candles are an indulgence, and likely not on the top of your budgeting priority list, but consider this: if you want people to think you’re successful, it makes sense that you’d be burning money. At at $80 a piece, there is no question but that a Baxter of California candle is the same as lighting a Benjamin on fire after doing a number two. Plus, to my knowledge, when someone asks where you got the amazing candle, the sexy response is almost never “Walgreens.” Just buy the damn candles. Hell, steal them.
- Go for a jog with just a enough frequency that you can reference it in casual conversation. “I was jogging by their house the other day…” “Whilst jogging on Thursday I thought I saw her…” “I wanted to go out but after my jog I realized I was too tired.” You are not resolving to be a jogger. You are resolving to appear like you have your shit together and that includes physical exercise. Plus you never know what those endorphins are going to do for you. You may actually lose weight.
At the end of the year, what really matters is not how you’ve decided to change for the world, but rather how you’ve decided to change for yourself. And the truth is that it’s okay to decide not to change. It’s okay to look at yourself in the mirror and think, “That’s a damn good looking work in progress.” Sure, you may need to lose some weight– and you should do that– and you could improve your organization or housekeeping skills, take up camping, buy a buy, go for a hike, but none of those things should be forced upon you in the darkest, coldest, saddest month of the year. I’d argue that what the world needs most is not change for changes sake, but rather true and meaningful reflection. Valuing the insight that comes with connecting to who you are and how your existence plays into the larger picture. Because when you stop and really think about it, how tiny and insignificant you are in the grand scheme of things, you start to realize that your resolve is of no consequence to the universe. The most and best that you can do is seek joy and kindness and try your best to contribute to the harmony of another year. So quit panicking, buy the cashmere sweater and get on with the business of being you…