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Resolution Revolution

Here are some you might actually keep.

By Maya E. Shwayder

Be less of a slut. Lose 20 pounds. Get better grades. Find a job. Volunteer more. Save more money. Every year people across the country are convinced that uttering the phrase “I’ve resolved to…[insert virtuous act here]” to all of their friends in the intervening days between Christmas and New Year’s will magically make the said declaration happen.

Unsurprisingly, according to “recent research” (okay, fine, Wikipedia), only 12 percent of people who make resolutions actually achieve their goals.  For a college student, that’s 20-some years of either consistent disappointment or just being forgetful. Amy Chua would have canceled your Christmas long ago.

Despite the high failure rate, New Year’s resolutions remain a popular hobby — a way to convince ourselves that we are truly good people at heart — and, dagnabbit, we are going to work harder, live better, run faster, be stronger, and make the world a better place this year!

Why the predilection with perpetually setting ourselves up for failure? The answer, like many things related to wallowing in laziness, seems to lie with the Romans. The ever-wise interwebz inform me that the month of January is named after the Roman god Janus, god of beginnings and protector of all doors and gateways. Janus is depicted with two faces, one looking forward (to the future) and another looking back (to the past), thus becoming a symbol for making resolutions while taking the past into account. The Romans used New Year to exchange gifts and ask for forgiveness from their enemies. The Jewish New Year celebration incorporates similar practices of asking for forgiveness and wiping the slate clean.

Asking for forgiveness and trying to start a new year off right are admirable goals. And yes, goal-setting can be a positive force for change when change is needed. Yet it would seem that sometime between the Rome of Augustus and our own era, making a New Year’s resolution turned into a theatrical farce of taking the advice of the Jewish Mother in all of our heads, only to disappoint her a week later (it’s kind of hard to lose 20 lbs. when you keep insisting I eat all my brisket, Mom.)

So, in the spirit of setting you goals are actually likely to achieve, here are five things you can resolve to do that are not quitting smoking, drinking less, losing weight, or getting better grades. Because let’s be honest, who really wants to do any of those things?

1. Eat more.

Chicken fingers, chocolate, Chipotle, it doesn’t matter. Life is uncertain. You don’t want to die regretting not eating that sixth M&M cookie, right?

2. Have more (safe) sex.

Or, if you’re single and feeling adventurous, you can make the goal, “contract a VD.” I probably know a few people who could help you with that one….

No but seriously, be safe.

3. Go to a final club, or a party at a different school.

You’ll actually be honest when you answer “yes” to your friend from home’s question, “Dude, have you ever been to one of those club things I saw in The Social Network?”

And no, coming to the Quad to party does not count as going to a different school. Sheesh. Friggin’ river-dwellers.

4. Slack off more.

You can totally watch another episode of “Bones.” It’s only 2 am. You still have 15 hours to finish that unstarted pset, whatever.

5. Drink. A lot.

Holla atcha senior spring!

Maya E. Shwayder ’11, a Crimson editorial writer, is a psychology concentrator in Pforzheimer house.

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