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A New Year’s resolution is something we all futilely attempt to make, because society pressures everyone to change for the better every year: more diets, more exercise, a completely new career, etc. We all say we’re going to live completely differently or change the world each New Year, but change happens in stages, not by a massive overnight dive into a completely new lifestyle. So, instead of making a New Year’s resolution to become POTUS or write the next great American novel, start small and stick to a few of these resolutions worth keeping.
1. Spend more time with friends and family.
Friends and family, even those who drive us crazy with their own problems and crises, are all we’ve got in this world. At the end of the day, they’ll always be there for you—even if that means telling you that you drink too much. They don’t always make sense, but that’s why we love them. Well, that and their tendency to throw money our way even when we do something stupid, like that time I blew a whole paycheck on hookers. You never know how long you will have them, so enjoy their ridiculous stories, blatant hypocrisy, and weird quirks as much as you can while you have them, because no one lives forever. Your family and closest friends will usually love you unconditionally, after all.
2. Do something you love.
I don’t mean go out and drop your job to pursue aquatic crustacean photography as a career, though if that’s your dream, good luck and Godspeed. Life is too short to spend it doing something you hate in a place you’d rather not see again. If you find yourself dreading work every day, find something else to do, because you deserve to be happy with your career—after all, you spend a huge chunk of your life doing it. No one wants to be stuck working for the real-life equivalent to Initech, unless they provide everyone those awesome red staplers.
3. Go somewhere you’ve never been before.
Whether this place is few towns away or as far away as the darkest corners of the Earth, just go. Get out there and experience the world in a new way. Scale Everest and hire a yeti as your Sherpa. Go to Africa and attempt to re-enact scenes from “The Lion King” without getting eaten. Visit the rural South and try not to get kidnapped by a hillbilly playing a banjo. The options are really endless. Seeing new places is a great way to get perspective and appreciate the life you have, or to find ways to improve on it so you can maximize your happiness.
4. Meet new people.
We’re all young and still able to network without worrying about ferrying kids from school to soccer practice. Network while you can. I’m convinced that while money is great, friends are worth infinitely more. Maybe you’ll meet someone who can help you elevate your career, or even someone to take home to the parents. Who knows? That’s why your twenties are so great; the possibilities are endless. Take the opportunity to buy that cute girl at the bar a drink and get to know her. You never know what might happen, though you should re-evaluate your networking techniques if she ends up throwing the drink at you.
5. Be more spontaneous.
After college, we sometimes let the real world beat us into a routine. Stop that. Occasionally, take a few days to get out of the office and play hooky, even if that means taking a day at home or going out of town last minute. Your schedule is not your life. You are not your job. Make sure you set aside time to be yourself, free from the confines of your poorly climate-controlled cubicle. Your boss won’t miss you that much, and I’m sure there’s an intern you can dump your workload on. Don’t feel bad—you’re just preparing them for the real world. Maybe they’ll even thank you for it one day. But whatever, it doesn’t really matter. Interns don’t have feelings, right?
6. Grow older, grow wiser, but don’t grow up.
There’s a saying that goes, “Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.” Take your options and run with them. The world has a habit of making people jaded. Avoid becoming that way. We would be so much better off if people just took things less seriously and enjoyed life a bit more. My incentive to keep this resolution for myself was telling a few friends that they had permission to kidnap me if I ever became boring and jaded. I’m holding them to it. If you find yourself looking at kids in there twenties one day and judging them for being kids, get back to your roots. Life is a theme park. Don’t just hit the kiddie coasters and the lazy river. Go for the biggest, baddest rides in the park and enjoy it all, but make sure you don’t barf all over the person next to you on the loops.
7. Be yourself, not who other people want you to be.
You are who you are. Own it, embrace it, love it. Change things that you don’t like about yourself if you can, but don’t do it for other people. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” Don’t let the world change you. If anything, you should try to change the world. Maybe we’re not the perfect snowflakes Mom and Dad might have told us we were, but we all have potential. Potential for more than just working the boring 9-5 routine. Don’t change for your office. Change your office. After all, if you can’t be honest with yourself, who can you be honest with?
New Year’s resolutions are usually pointless and lame, but we all have the opportunity each New Year to make our lives better and go for what we want. Seize the world by the fucking horns and make it your own. The only thing holding you back is you, and potentially a humanities degree. Now, grab a drink and toast to a great 2014!