New Year, New You? Not So Much…

Every year people make new year’s resolutions they inevitably don’t keep. When I lived in Baltimore, the thrift stores there would often have signs that read, “We are no longer accepting donations of home gym equipment.” Wow! If that is not a statement on the lack of follow-through on good intentions, I don’t know what would be. If you really wanted to improve your life, you’d probably start by leaving Baltimore.

I don’t understand this “new you” idea. Are you an insufferable ass-hat? Okay, then. A new you is probably a good idea. On the off-chance you’re a regular person with some shortcomings, how about you just modify your behavior for a reward while still being “you”?

Here’s what I have learned in addiction recovery: no one goes to rehab because other people make him or her go. A person goes because they have hit rock bottom (maybe a few times). I had deluded myself into thinking everything was fine, which is easy to do when you’re high all the time. It wasn’t until I was forced to look at what other people saw that it sank in. I had this sort of “Picture of Dorian Gray” moment, but in reverse.

I got to thinking that maybe, instead of setting unrealistic goals with no sustainable motivation, hitting rock bottom might be a better goal. After all, nothing helps you stick to your new year’s resolutions quite as well as that.

If my goal is to get into shape, maybe I should post a picture on Instagram proclaiming how cute I think I am, and, as petty people do, they’ll rip me apart. Never mind that the people commenting on my looks are average at best. Let’s face it, nothing says “I’m Confident!” better than running someone else down.

Then, I should take those comments and post them on my gym equipment. When I don’t want to work out, I should read through them. Or maybe I should look up pictures of the people who made fun of me and tape their ugly faces up in a visible spot for my workout.

If I’ve resolved to quit drinking, I know what could help! I’m just going to need just the right event! Maybe meeting my (imaginary) significant other’s family, the birth of a child, my nephew’s Bar Mitzvah, grandma’s funeral, etc…

Next, I should begin to binge drink. I mean really commit. We’re talking Tequila at 9 a.m. level binge drinking. Maybe, for good measure, I’ll make sure to mix ipecac into a few of the bottles. Believe me, nothing would get me never to drink another drop quite like vomiting into granny’s casket, or yelling to my nephew in the middle of synagogue services, “You know, your mom’s a whore, Shmuli!” Dropping newborns and feeling up future in-laws are also effective, so I’m gonna feel free to get creative.

Here’s the thing: no amount of bribing will get anyone to do anything if the self isn’t truly motivated to do it. New year’s resolutions focus on shallow things that we might be able change, but they wouldn’t change anything meaningful in our lives.

How about this, instead of buying a gym membership you’ll never use, make two lists:

“Reasons I am an asshole” and “Reasons I am not a complete dick.” Take a personal inventory and work on increasing the list of things that could make you a better human being.

Instead of worrying what others think about your physical appearance, look in the mirror and say, “Nope! Not perfect! But I love that mother fucker! I’m a dope-ass person to be!” Then try free style rapping. You’ll take yourself less seriously and that’s a good thing.

New you? Nah. Do you, unapologetically, and with a smile. I just saved you money and guilt. You’re welcome!




Photo credit: Leah Murray

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