Give Up On Your New Year’s Resolution Now
Or prove me wrong. Spite is a great motivator.
Illustrations by Jaik Puppyteeth
This article originally appeared on VICE CA.
Well, we’re there again. The end of another horrible year. It’s the time where we’re meant to reflect on the past 12 months and make some amendments to ourselves—changes towards betterment. It’s time to make our New Year’s resolutions. I’m here to tell you not to bother. Fuck your resolutions. Don’t even try. Whatever it is, you’re not going to stick to it. You should know yourself better by now.
Some articles are written from a motivational perspective to help bolster you and start the year off cheering you on from the sidelines. Unfortunately, positivity doesn’t work on most people. It works on people who have enough willpower to achieve their goals without any goading from a feelgood column about New Year’s resolutions, which is .05% of the population. These are the weirdos who can regularly set goals all by themselves, any time of year, without any prompting. For the rest of us, these motivational pieces only serve to give us a false sense of hope, and to ultimately intensify our inevitable failure. So let’s be realistic, break down the ways you can set yourself up for failure, and try to scrounge up some useful tips to be a better you.
What was your resolution going to be? Something tangible and quantifiable? That’s a big mistake. A definitive resolution is the worst kind because they’re backed up with facts. The exact number of pounds you won’t lose, your vacation fund short to the cent...mocking you.
Last year, I planned on reading a novel a week. 52 novels. As if I have nothing better to do with my day. I ended up reading less than half my goal. It’s the end of December and there’s an Agatha Christie novel on my bedside table, begging me to pick it up. I even tweeted about it to announce it to the world...to make it official, maybe to fortify some accountability. That tweet had so much blind optimism. A real zeal, as if I legitimately believed in myself. I know better this year. I know I can’t do anything. If you’re planning on making a resolution that has a figure assigned to it, just give up now. Throw in the towel, then pick the towel back up and cover your face in shame with it. And definitely don’t advertise your goals openly. Your one friend who actually has a good memory and cares about you will bring it up in June and then you’ll have to stop talking to them forever.
I know what you’re thinking: maybe a more abstract New Year’s resolution will work for me. Maybe a less structured goal system will be easier to stick to. Be kinder to people. Treat my body better. Recycle more. Obviously those are all fantastic things, but the problem is inherent in their looseness. Because they’re so nebulous, they can quickly float out of your head and all of a sudden you’re calling your sister a fucking bitch because she didn’t give you a bite of cheesecake, even though you literally just finished telling her you’re trying to eat better this year. Just as a finite goal is dangerous in its rigidity, these are problematic because It’s impossible to gauge your progress, which makes it so much easier to delude yourself into thinking you’re actually making headway. As if the flick of a switch can unlearn all the years of shitty behavior. You fool.
Let’s face it—if you really wanted to change something about yourself, you would have done it by now. Why is the symbolic clean slate of the New Year supposed to impact anything? Especially if your goals are actually serious. If you feel like you’re at rock bottom now, don’t hold out until January to make some changes. I ended up getting sober in June because I would probably be dead if I tried to wait for a New Year’s resolution. They’re not enchanted. There’s no mystical solidarity in knowing thousands of other people are embarking on their own personal journey of self-improvement at the same time as you. They’re all failing just as badly as you are—probably worse. Why would you look for support from those losers? Take charge of yourself, regardless of the calendar.
We’re wired for failure. This might sound a little radical, but a great way to not let yourself down is to self-reflect more than once a year. It’s not like filing your taxes. Take a thoughtful and critical look at yourself from time to time, and set some goals when you’re ready to. Small ones...short-term ones. Realistic goals that you can manage by taking things slowly. Adjust your shitty behavior patterns day-to-day, instead of taking way too big of a half-assed bite in the New Year. It’s only light out for like two hours a day in January. Do you really want to be trying to spearhead a dramatic lifestyle change in that dismal atmosphere? Isn’t wintertime already melancholy enough for you? This year I am going to make some monthly resolutions. I’ll probably still not reach some of them, but I’ll still have better odds than most. And if you’re reading this thinking you’re better than me, you’re not. Prove me wrong. Spite is a great motivator.
Jaik Puppyteeth is an artist and writer. Follow him on Instagram.