Your New Year’s resolution is stupid and I hate it.
Don’t take offense – I hate everyone’s New Year’s resolutions (including my own, which is to stop hating everything). Anyway, it’s not your fault: it’s impossible to make a good New Year’s resolution, unless you’re one of those people who can take a long look in the mirror and come up with a pearl of wisdom like, “Maybe I should stop doing so much Angel Dust.”
There are essentially only four kinds of New Year’s resolutions and all of them are inherently terrible. They are shaped by two factors: practicality and desirability.
Group #1: Impractical, Undesirable
You don’t hear a lot of impractical, undesirable New Year’s resolutions, for obvious reasons. Then again, maybe we should try some of these out, as the other three clearly aren’t working either. Some examples of impractical and undesirable resolutions include:
- This year, I will scream directly in the face of every person I encounter.
- This year, I will gain a tremendous amount of weight and counter this weight gain by purchasing a series of increasingly smaller-sized coats.
- This year, I will forget how to read.
- This year, I will have sexual intercourse with a wild animal at gunpoint.
Group #2: Practical, Undesirable
This is where the majority of resolutions foolishly fall. Let’s take running a marathon for example. Most people, with the proper mindset and dedication, could run a marathon, or at least some kind of appropriate equivalent. But is it desirable?
This is a case of mistaking a desirable result (becoming one of those smug douchers with a “26.2” bumper sticker) with an undesirable process (actually running a marathon). Sure, it’d be nice to make a self-congratulatory Facebook album titled “I Did It!” filled with pictures of your skeletally-fit self, identification number pinned proudly to your cadaverous chest. Unfortunately, all of the aspects leading up to that moment – completely overhauling your diet, following a strict regimen of lettuce leaves and organic water, tireless training and exercising, foregoing booze and drugs, and let’s not even mention all of that monotonous running – are, well, not so great.
There are plenty of other resolutions that involve things we think we’d like to do, but have no intention of going through the undesirable process of actually achieving. A few examples are:
- This year, I will invest the time and patience required to learn Chinese.
- This year, I will spend more time with my awful family.
- This year, I will quit exposing myself to unsuspecting members of the public.
Other resolutions are so impractical that we find ourselves breaking them within the first few hours of post-midnight New Year’s Eve revelry! It’s probably worth noting that if your resolution involves giving up the very first thing you plan on doing that year, it might be unsustainable. So you might want to avoid goals like:
- This year, I will quit getting blackout drunk.
- This year, I will stop making out with strangers.
- This year, I will show responsibility for my actions.
Group #3: Impractical, Desirable
These resolutions are unquestionably desirable, but so far out of the realm of reality as to seem comical. They really fall into three subcategories. The first is things that would be great, but that you have little to no control over, like:
- This year, I will get that big promotion.
- This year, no one will send me a LinkedIn invite.
- This year, all people with outie belly buttons will be banned from public beaches.
Other resolutions are too ambitious or over-reaching for any person to accomplish them in a mere 12 months:
- This year, I will end world hunger.
- This year, I will stop alienating my friends and loved ones with my insane behavior.
- This year, I will be happy.
Finally, there are resolutions which are desirable, but possibly not wise or realistic in the long-term:
- This year, I will cripple my enemies and fashion their flesh into a makeshift trophy.
- This year, I will eat nothing but Chipotle burritos, becoming the Jared of Chipotle, except rounder and with pervasive gastrointestinal unrest.
- This year, I will have no regrets and live life to the fullest at all times. Let me begin by ingesting this rock of crack cocaine.
Group #4: Practical, Desirable
Practical and desirable resolutions are the most devious of all, since they sound like a slam dunk. Who wouldn’t want to make a change to their life that is both practical and desirable? Which is why they should raise a red flag: if it’s so great, why aren’t you already doing it? You want to hear some examples of resolutions that are practical and desirable?
- This year, I will continue brushing my teeth.
- This year, I will strive to keep hazardous chemicals out of my eyes.
- This year, I will use a combination of spoken words and nonverbal gestures to express my internal thoughts to others.
- This year, I will do my best not to die.
In other words, things you’re already doing! Also, almost nothing in life is practical and desirable – if it was that easy, we wouldn’t need beer. And if we didn’t need beer, you wouldn’t need to make any resolutions in the first place, because you’d be 30 pounds lighter and still on speaking terms with your family.
The mystery behind New Year’s resolutions is clear: Is it possible for people to change? I think so. But these kinds of things are generally unplanned: for example, you might start losing your hair, or accidentally sever a finger. It’s probably best we don’t rely on those sorts of serendipitous events to improve our lives. As far as 2014 goes, I’m afraid you’re stuck being the same asshole you were in 2013.