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I resolve… not to resolve

Ah, the holidays. A time of joy, to be sure, but hand in hand with the
spirit of the season comes a sleigh-full of stress. Shopping, buying,
wrapping, cooking, basting, baking, stuffing, mailing and traveling. After
keeping so many commitments to family and friends, for some unfathomable
reason, this is the time of year you’re expected to vow to
permanently change your behavior. Or body mass. Or job status. Writer
MaryJanice Davidson explains why this year we should just blow the whole New Year’s resolution thing off!

Forget about it!

It’s time to forget about New Year’s resolutions once and for all. Why should you pick January to lose weight? For that matter, why should you pick January to do anything? You’re still getting your stress level back to normal after the frantic good cheer of the holidays. You’re still weeping like a lost soul when the bills come in, picking tinsel out of the carpet, and watching the cat cough up evergreen needles. Now is no time to contemplate major life changes. Now is the time to beg for an increase in your credit limit, vacuum the carpet and get the cat to a vet, stat.

If you haven’t guessed, I have no use for New Year’s resolutions, and I’m not alone. Many people dislike being told during the holidays that now, yes, now is the time to improve themselves. But they do it anyway, out of some sense of duty or because they’re bombarded by a thousand women’s magazines demanding they improve themselves toot sweet. For those people, I suggest making resolutions to do things you do anyway. I had two resolutions last year: to sneak out of work early at least twice a week, and to not get fired for constantly being out of the office when the boss needed me. Now those were resolutions! Sure, I was going to do them anyway, but I still felt a sense of accomplishment.

Really, the only resolution worth making is to resolve not to resolve. That’s not an easy step to take, though. We’re conditioned to make New Year’s resolutions, just as we’re conditioned to send Christmas cards to people we haven’t seen in 17 years, and to choke down the figgy pudding to get to the yummy hard sauce. It’s a tough habit to break, but, as with any stressful, ultimately harmful habit — smoking, overeating, being snide to your mother-in-law — the rewards of quitting cold turkey are legion.

Now is not the time for change!

To make giving up resolutions simpler, think of January as the hospital recovery room of months. It’s no time to try and change a thing. That’s not to say there aren’t areas in everyone’s life they wish to improve upon. The most popular resolution is to drop a few pounds, and that’s a noble goal (unless you’re Elizabeth Hurley, in which case you should resolve to gain a few pounds). But choosing to lose weight right after the holidays is like deciding to run a marathon four hours after giving birth — you’re just asking for trouble.

New Year’s resolutions, as anyone over 12 knows, are a vicious cycle of despair. You’re forced to take stock of your life at a time when you’re more stressed than any other time of the year. This ends up being more depressing than your Christmas tree turning brown as a football 24 hours after you lugged it through the door. So you resolve to make improvements in your life right then, right there. Said resolutions are then forgotten or pushed aside by Valentine’s Day. Heck, sometimes by Martin Luther King’s birthday. Which creates guilt, which makes you more depressed. Which increases your stress level — which was already so high you got nosebleeds just thinking about it. You’re being set up to fail — and why? Whose idea was this, anyway? Let’s get him! (This is assuming the culprit is a man. But I also suspect Martha Stewart.) So abolish New Year’s resolutions entirely. Forget about taking stock of your life — your achievements are not a warehouse to be inventoried. Instead, fortify your defenses so you can better recover from the holidays. Have an extra slice of cake after supper. Call in sick because you’re “sick” of work, not to mention the guy in the next cubicle who makes Dilbert’s colleagues look like high-performance workers from a Saturn assembly line. Borrow 20 bucks from your sister, then “forget” to pay her back (hey, she’s got it coming — don’t forget who ratted on you way back when for blowing curfew on prom night).

Channel your urge to make resolutions into an urge to indulge the three R’s — Rest, Relaxation, Recovery. Part of recovery is deciding you’ve got quite enough stress in your life, thank you, and you don’t need to change a darn thing. Or, if you do need a change, it can certainly wait until March. Maybe even August.

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