The Insider’s Guide to Life: The Essential List of Resolutions Not to Make in 2012

ColumnResolutions: Just like to-do lists, only impossible!

The season of cocktail parties and last-minute dinners with friends before we all trek back to our respective homesteads (or wing like hell in the opposite direction) is upon us. Inevitably, someone will ask what your New Year’s resolutions are. You will have already thought about how you are going to perfect your life ever further in the coming year, perfect it compassionately and positively and joyously, in explicit detail in both your new moleskine purchased for just this purpose (drunken scrawls), as well as in Excel which you hate but admit is kind of useful sometimes (alphabetized goals), but all this you will keep to yourself, because in response you’ll laugh with the loveliest measured nonchalance and murmur something mindful Meryl Streep or a person who has found her bliss would murmur, something about slow food or slow presents. “Conscious resolution is revelatory in a way that regular old resolutions could simply never be!” your organic milk-fed countenance will say without saying a thing.

Resolutions are fine things if they are extraordinarily selfish, one-off, low dose, so easy a Kardashian could do it, or recklessly nice just because. For instance: You should resolve to have more sex. To eat some very fresh food. To save an animal. To save a friend. To leave the house clad in real shoes always, because sneakers are for the gym. To write down all the things you want to accomplish in the next decade, and choose just two for this year. To let the smile show in your eyes. To stop saying “totes.” To find a yoga class without a woman who moans her ohms like her mat is equipped in a way yours isn’t. All lovely things to achieve in this grand new annum.

Then there are all the other things.

Resolutions Not to Make in 2012

1. Lose weight.

Just stop right there. Not going to happen. You know how I know? This was your resolution last year. And the year before that. In fact, every single year for as long as you can remember being aware of your weight, or, third grade for girls, age 45 for boys. Personal trainers and lifestyle coaches will recommend that you get more specific to get results. Aim for dropping a dress size, or 10 pounds, or 5% of your body fat, they say. I say success starts with setting the bar so low you could trip on it. Consider three pounds. Three pounds is a week of no carbs. Three pounds is walking around your town for three hours, thrice. Maybe just twice. Three pounds can even be a satisfying bowel movement after a fibrous dinner of zesty uncaloric nightshades. Three pounds: You can do this.

No one else will notice, but you sure will, and since all your friends really want is for you to stop talking about how skinny you used to be that one time before they ever knew you, everyone wins.

2. Pay off your debts.

I always say that if I had real money I’d buy all the landfills in the world, because someone is going to figure out how to turn dirty trash into clean energy and get, well, filthy rich. Perhaps our debt-burdened world will strike upon some similar Eureka formula whereby all debt becomes highly valuable to the people owing it instead of the people gaming it. In the meantime, resolve to drink. Kidding! Resolve to get real. The student loans, the mortgage, the car, the second mortgage, the second car, the credit cards, the stray bank charge on the account you opened on Maui three years ago because they don’t have Wells Fargo and you forgot about it: Forgive yourself. We are a nation of forgivers. We forgive Wall Street, we forgive television, we forgive Donald Trump his hair and Newt Gingrich his head, we can forgive you.

Choose the smallest debt, divide by 12, automate checking transfers to your savings account you’ve set up just for this, and get back to work on banishing the use of “totes” from your life.

4. Learn to/take up/get into/go to classes for those seventeen things you’ve always thought you would be good at and should be good at because that guy you can’t stand but can’t unfollow on Twitter is.

Painting, singing, the Barre method, skiing, kayaking, bouldering (it’s harder than rock climbing), raising your Klout score, the art of tea, HTML5, Mandarin, never again needing to look up the meaning of sui generis, artistic welding, knitting in a hipster way not a housewife way, riding, hey how about a Century?, pasta from scratch, finally understanding and enjoying Brahms, ikat upholstery, poker, why not a tournament?, curing pork products at home, paintball, sky-diving, Tantric sex, coed club baseball, writing a novel, plus all the other things that in fact require years of practice and learning to approach basic proficiency, nevermind professional status. Definitely at least 17.

In 2012, resolve to: Take one, lone “class.” Attend one, new “thing.” Visit one, other “place”. If you can manage all that in the space of 12 short months while working, living, loving and doing, I’ll know you’re also the one who lost three pounds. Gold star.

5. Sign up for the gym.

A time-honored tradition in our country, a whale of a deal, practically a steal! Just $49 a month forever. Propping up the gym bubble adds millions to the GDP, while deducting nothing from the BMI. Do you dream about the gym? Do you miss the ritual of wiping down the handles of the Stairmaster with Pine Sol spray because the guy on it before you left a flash flood of sweat in the cup holder? Do you find yourself just hanging around the gym at 5 a.m. on a Saturday in August, wishing it were open? No? Don’t sign up for the gym.

6. Drink less.

If you have to say it, it’s not going to happen. How about worry less and drink more…of other things? Drinking is a sign of boredom. (Unless you are an alcoholic, in which case, doctor, now.) Change up friends, change up activities, change up how you spend your evenings, just change up some old thing. The drinking will change itself. No resolution required.

7. Find true love.

“You should really date more.” “So, have you tried online dating?” People. I know of a handful of happy marriages – not perfect marriages, but really happy ones, the ones that don’t make me fear marriage, the ones that don’t come like a box set of Barbie Never Orgasms But Gave Up on It Years Ago So Her Face Is Set to Permafreeze and Ken Makes Joking Digs About Balls and Chains But Boy Is He an Amazing Dad to Get Back at Barbie. Anyway. The happy ones, to the last, all happened instantly: boy met girl or girl met boy or boy met boy or what have you, and that was that. There was no trying in any case. I’m not saying we shouldn’t work at finding true love like some people garden their resumes, I’m just saying we shouldn’t work at finding true love. You’re a whole hunk of lovely love. A rock, if you will, and someone will soon turn it over and find the adorable creeping and crawling flaws underneath, and hug them and squeeze them (but not too hard), and name it Love. It’ll happen. I promise.

(Although I’m not going to make a resolution about it for you. Like I want to be responsible for dooming your chance at love in 2012.)

This is the latest installment in your editor’s column, The Insider’s Guide to Life.

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P.S. A special hello to one Starre Vartan. We love you.