The Resolution Revolution

January Men's Room

This month, countless articles will badger you to make resolutions to get fit, be more productive, save money, and otherwise live better in 2018.

You’ll be instructed to keep your resolutions “concrete and specific” and to “make yourself accountable.” Writers will suggest how, as 2018 wears on, you can stay faithful to those absurdly ambitious pronouncements drunkenly made on the Uber ride home from your boss’s New Year’s Eve party.

However, since most of you have already bailed on your resolutions, I’m going to provide the guidance you really need: strategies to avoid the shame of broken resolutions and return to your old bad habits free of the shackles of guilt and self-recrimination.

The “Temporary Insanity” Defense: Call into question whether the you who made the resolution was in her right mind. Even if you weren’t under the influence of a mind-altering substance, you can blame making that ridiculous vow to give up your daily afternoon Frapacappuccino Shakocalypse on the fact that you were vacationing in Cocoa Beach. Now that you’re back in the trenches at the office, there’s no way you can reasonably be expected to make it to quitting time without an $8 caffeine shake with enough sugar to wire a Montessori school.

The “Fight the Power” Stance: Approach the resolution as an oppressive dictate from a nagging bully. Experience with projection and compartmentalization is helpful here. Get indignant! “Who the heck do I think I am telling me what to do? It’s easy for me to make these demands, with my perfect life, but unlike me, I actually live in the real world.”

The “Hey, at Least I’m Not” Approach: For this one, it pays to have shiftless friends. For example, if your resolution was to finally write that novel that’s been kicking around your brain all these years, then you can find solace in the fact that your friend Glenda can’t motivate to take out her recycling until the wine bottles and frozen pizza boxes are piled so high they threaten her children’s safety. “No, I’m not writing, but hey, at least I’m not Glenda.”

The “Who the Hell Am I?” Defense: Particularly effective for broken diet resolutions. Scan the news for stories of famine, drought, or natural disasters where children in far-off lands lack basic nutrition. Next, look in the mirror at those love handles you vowed to lose. Finally, say to yourself, “Millions of hungry kids would give anything for these love handles. Who the hell am I to get rid of them?”

The “Nobody Really Knows” Routine: If, for example, your resolution involved flossing twice daily, start with “I know dentists say flossing is good for your gums …” Next, grasp desperately for a historical instance where medical advice was flawed: “… but doctors used to say smoking was good for your lungs. So nobody really knows.”

Finally, there’s the “No More Resolutions” Resolution: Commit yourself now to resist the urge to make resolutions for 2019, and you can avoid this entire drama. Unless you break that resolution, too. In that case, see above.


Dylan Patterson is a writer and filmmaker who teaches English at Cape Fear Community College.

To view more of illustrator Mark Weber’s work, go to