Tolan is an Emmy Award-winning television screenwriter, director, producer and member of The Harold Ramis Film School advisory board.
It’s beginning to feel a lot like…this f-ing year needs to be over already.
Let’s just declare 2016 done.
If Halloween can start in the summer, Christmas is pretty much year-round and no one really knows when Chanukah begins, let’s officially lay this year off and start ringing in the New Year immediately. Especially since 2016 sucked all over the place, do we really have any reason to believe that–oh, say mid-January–it’s going to get much better? The best option would be time traveling four (yes, four!) years into the future when everything will be alright again, but let’s face it. We’re also gawkers who kind of want to see how this monumental traffic accident plays out. But if we start celebrating New Year’s now, then by the time we get to March? The first of four more sucky years will already be 3/4 of the way over. See? Math.
So even though holidays are all about eating, drinking and presents, the MEDIA has decided that they’re also synonymous with being stressed out. Instead of playing into that trope, put these jump-starter resolutions into play right now, because…yes we can.
Put your phone away
Haven’t seen the top of your kid’s face in a while? Starting to think that their obsession with “Annie” is more about the orphan part, less about the spunky, irrepressible part? If you find yourself choosing “One-Day Only Sales” (spoiler: they’re always more than one day) over spending time with your loved ones, it’s time to limit your screen time. Take an invaluable tip from Hallmark movies and declare that family is more important than your very busy job in Busyland. Put down the screen and come home for the holidays.
Tidy up your life, Japanese-style, and get rid of things that don’t “spark joy”
No, this doesn’t necessarily include your aunts and cousins at the dinner table —but it can mean that you decide not to engage in their delightful political banter when you know it’s just going to go south. Try saying, “Let’s not talk about politics” and sticking to it. Start trusting your gut about not wanting to go to that office party. Or contributing to your very rich friend’s mortgage GoFundMe. Or having dinner with that frenemy you just can’t cut loose because…childhood. You can say no politely and without excuses and the world won’t stop. Repeat this: “Oh, I’m so sorry, but I can’t.” And then stop talking. Just stop! Doesn’t that feel better? Also, get rid of clothes that don’t make you feel good. Clutter clutters.
Actually do something
Yes, it’s so much more fun to bitch about things and figure someone else will fix them for you, but you can actually do things for good that will change your world, if not the world. Volunteer at a food bank. Give money to that homeless person you secretly know is scamming you. Learn something about another culture or demographic that could probably use your understanding in the next administration. Also, don’t comment on anything you don’t feel fully informed about. Yes, that statement just took down conversation and Facebook feeds everywhere, but hey, knowledge.
Check yourself. How about just once, don’t snip at that less-than-competent fast food worker. Their minimum wage is not going to get any higher. Maybe resist flipping off that guy who’s on the phone and cut you off in traffic–or spitting on his car in the crosswalk. Try asking a surly government worker if they’re doing okay. (Hint: they’re not.) Assume the best of people even when they don’t deserve it. You’ll feel better about life even if they try to bite your head off afterwards.
It’s the biggest Oprah cliché of all time, but put on your oxygen mask first this year. Take at least a little time for yourself each day, so that you feel mentally and physically capable of doing all of the rest of the above. Eat mashed potatoes in bed while cry-watching “This Is Us.” Sing all the words wrong in the car as you listen to “The Hamilton Mixtape.” You could even try using your gym membership this year. Ha! Nope, let’s not get crazy. We all know there’s no “you” in workout.
So 2016? Done. See how easy that was? In the words of our next president, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, you’re welcome. See you in 2018.
Bina Martin is a teacher, director and writer based in Chicago.