Death, Taxes, and New Year’s Fails
There are only three things in life you can truly bank on, after the standard death and taxes:
Number one: a strip club will have an ATM.
Number two: when you call the credit card company to question activity on your account the night after visiting a strip club, it will be a cute sounding girl on the line.
And number three: any resolution made on New Year’s Eve will fail within two weeks.
The Spirit of Change
I like the spirit behind New Year’s resolutions. Any initiative to evaluate where your life is headed is good by me. Too many people get so caught up in “the grind” — working, studying, training, and complaining about bullshit — that they never take a second to figure out how to make their situation better.
However, for any resolution to last, the motivation has to come from within — not because the calendar reads December 31st. And certainly not because every douchebag on Facebook is posting his or her New Years resolutions.
Making Lasting Changes — Step by Step
So step 1 in making and sticking to effective New Years resolutions is to not make New Years resolutions. From here on out let’s just call them goals. That way you don’t have to wait for the end of the year to make them.
Instead, do it when it feels right. And you’ll know when “right” is, as it’s usually immediately after life gives you a knee to the pickle jar.
Step 2 is to cool off. You never want to make a big, life-changing decision when you’re emotionally charged. Let your temperature drop a few degrees — see if you still feel so strongly a day or two later.
There’s a reason the Air Force used to post recruiters in movie theater lobbies showing Top Gun. I wonder how many 19 year-old kids showed up at basic training and requested they be called Maverick?
Let the swelling go down.
Step 3 is to take a bird’s eye view. I do this a lot. Say you’re like most and your schedule is tight. You barely have time to sleep six hours and fold laundry, much less wax philosophically about life and your raison d’être.
When something blows up — you get laid off, tear a pec, your girlfriend runs off with a roadie for Nickelback – you’re not prepared. So you overreact and make a snap, emotional decision. Reflex decisions are often the ones you either regret later (stop listening to Nickleback — wait a second) or simply aren’t realistic or sustainable (I will never date again).
For that reason, spend 15 minutes every week to evaluate the things that are important to you. How’s your job? Are you successful, moving up? What would you do if you got laid off? Got a plan B and C?
How’s your relationship? You doing all the nice stuff you said you’d do?
What about training? Are you keeping the goal the goal?
The point is to always have the big picture in the back of your mind. That way, when challenges arise, you don’t overreact.
Step 4 is to make the right kind of resolu… I mean, goals. I used to make really lofty, non-specific goals. “Make more money” was a favorite (still is, imagine that)? “Have more fun” was another.
Then I grew up and got smart. Goals needed to be specific. Make more money is too vague — it needed to be “make $1000 extra every 30 days.” Have more fun had to be “attend a party at the Playboy mansion.”
Sorry control freaks, life rarely works that way. Your life isn’t a great science experiment wherein you control all the variables. Trying to be so exacting amongst so much chaos is vanity, to coin the Coen brothers.
Another problem is it sets you up to feel like a loser. If your goal is just “to make more cash” and you pull in an extra $500 a month, you’d probably be pretty happy. Whereas an extra $500 when your goal is a rigid “extra $1000 a month” would be a disappointment.
Either way, you made an extra six grand a year. You want to be happy about it or sad?
Step 5 is to make sure your goals aren’t competing. “Ace my mid-terms” likely won’t jive well with “put a serious dent in the new legalized pot dispensary.” Just saying.
Without further ado, here are my super-late New Year’s goals. (Cause it’s New Years somewhere, like China or Ukraine. Or Newfoundland).
1. Write more. Currently I edit a lot. It keeps me sharp but I need to get my own nonsense out. That’s what this blog is for and you better read it, otherwise I’ll just dump my ramblings as Facebook status updates and clog up your news feed. How’s that for incentive?
2. Get in shape again. The last six months I have been eating and boozing my way around NYC. And my physique is starting to show it. Granted, I’m fairly strong but my knees like it better when I’m lighter. Single digit bodyfat by May is the goal — without a stitch of cardio except martial arts training. Great, now I have to do it.
3. Move up a belt in Krav Maga. This has been a frustratingly slow process but I love the training. Being beaten up by guys lighter than me also keeps my inflated ego in check. My goal of getting back in shape will only help this along. (See point about non-competing goals.)
4. Have a very New York summer. You have to experience NYC in the warmer (but not too warm) months to understand this. Note: my fat loss goal must be completed before this can happen as I intend to blow my macros into the stratosphere.
5. Read an hour a night. I have a stack of must-read books that I haven’t cracked yet. I blame my university degrees for this. Back in school I averaged 1-2 novels a week, plus course work. Frankly, it burnt me out. I still haven’t quite recovered, though I can drop a lot of literary references at parties and look smart. Which is cool.
I also blame the rise in awesome TV and the gift that is the DVR. No more excuses. This is too important. Breaking Bad is done anyway. And True Detective is only 8 episodes — that’s 8 episodes of better than 90% of the shit in theatres.
6. Be more honest. We lie every day, usually to spare someone’s feelings. It gets old, especially when it’s probably more helpful just to be honest. I’m just putting that out there so you know not to ask me if your jeans make you look fat. Or to evaluate your writing.
7. Stress less about work/money. Ever see a U-haul behind a hearse? Me neither.
8. Punch an asshole in the face. I think the world was a better place when everyone acted with an underlying fear that if they behaved like a douche, someone resembling Charles Bronson would take it upon themselves to knock their teeth in.
Nowadays, fear of litigation, assault charges, and having to spend 3 months wearing an orange jumpsuit in a cell with a guy named Skeeter has tempered the natural order of things. As a result, assholery is at an all time high.
I think occasionally hammering an offending asshole in the pucker would send a strong message and do my part to provide stability to a world so clearly out of balance. Besides, Skeeter ain’t so bad.
9. Spend less time on Facebook. I’m late to the anti-Facebook party but holy cripes, does it blow. My favorite status updates are the Cliffhangers: “Had such a bad day today and then the Best Thing EVER happened!!!1!”
I never bite. I can’t even fake giving a shit.
Although you can still follow me on Twitter.
10. Appreciate more. We lost our beloved bulldog late last year. It hasn’t been easy. I’m somewhat relieved that he just “went” one evening, without having to make a very hard decision. It was kind of like he knew that would be the only way we’d let him go.
Out of respect for his memory we resisted replacing him, though I sure miss having my house hippo snuffling around. And I can’t go by a dog park anymore without stopping for a few minutes just to watch the dogs play.
I know, it’s just a dog. But he was something I loved that I don’t have anymore. So I miss him. I can’t imagine losing a person.
If you have someone or something in your life that you value, be it canine or feline or hopefully human, make sure you show gratitude.
Cause there’s one other thing in life that you can truly bank on, and it’s more important than any booze-fueled promise you might’ve made one cold night at 11:59.
What really matters in life never lasts.