Incompatible Resolution

Once upon a time, I was the kind of person who made New Year's resolutions. They were always something vague, like "exercise more," though I suppose "exercise at all" would have been sufficient. There was never any record of them, even in private. No journal, no notes. No written proof to demonstrate just how much the resolutions had failed. Which they did, without exception — by Groundhog Day at the absolute latest. Somewhere along the line, maybe six or seven years ago, I stopped making them. It seemed crass to soil an otherwise perfectly good New Year with a heap of lies.

Besides, it was getting tough to think up something new to resolve. Repeating one from a previous year only made its failure that much more evident, and it's always good to have a resolution that sounds impressive, in case anyone asks. "My resolution? Oh, no big whoop, just to spend more time volunteering at animal shelters." Of course, at that point you're not just failing yourself, you're failing a whole roomful of kittens and puppies. It's a downward spiral, the only escape from which is to quit the resolution business entirely.

Well, it occurs to me that I can't be the only one who feels this way. Many of you likely have the same problem. You want to make a quality New Year's resolution, but you can't be bothered to think of one, and wouldn't really follow through anyway.

That's perfectly alright. I'm here to help.

I'm going to make resolutions for you.

These resolutions will make you feel better about yourself, and will help make the world a better place. "A better place" in this specific instance being a place where I will not want to tear my own face off and beat people with it.

I resolve, on your behalf, to chew gum quietly, especially if you're standing near me on the subway.

This covers all forms of gum noise, including any open-mouth activity (popping, snapping, labored breathing) or popping with the mouth closed (less vile, but still an issue).

I resolve, on your behalf, not to leave outdoor Christmas decorations up until March.

What you do in the sanctity of your own home is your business. If you want to live in Santa's Workshop 365 days a year, hey that's great. But if you take the time to hang a wreath on your door, and I'm still looking at it when A) it's all dried & brown, B) people are wearing light jackets, and/or C) the NCAA Tournament is almost over ... at some point it's just depressing. You pass through that door every day, can you not spare the three seconds it would take to bring it in with you? Did you hang up your holiday decorations and then go on sabbatical? Are you missing? Should we be concerned?

I resolve, on your behalf, not to start emails, instant messages, or forum posts with "um."

You mean well, I know. You aren't 100% sure about something, and you're only typing what you would say in conversation. The thing is, it always, always comes off sounding passive aggressive. Here, look: "Um, I think Sparta won the Peloponnesian War." Is that indecisiveness, or sarcastic dickery? In the absence of vocal inflection, we have no way to tell.

I resolve, on your behalf, to watch drastically less reality TV, and to watch "30 Rock" instead.

If it gets canceled because you chuckleheads wouldn't watch it, there will be consequences. Do not let "Freaks and Geeks" syndrome strike again.

While I'm at it, I resolve, on your behalf, to occasionally air reruns of "Mad Men."

I suppose this one's more or less directed at AMC's programming division. Jesus Christ, guys — you have a critically hailed, Emmy-winning drama. You paid thousands to advertise heavily when your star hosted "Saturday Night Live." You're losing money, and need viewers. Not to mention the fact that certain people, who shall remain unnamed, may have inadvertently erased most of season two from their DVRs, and sworn vile oaths while throwing their remotes at the couch. And yet, the show is nowhere to be found on your schedule. It's the only program you have that people care about. Kindly broadcast it once in a while.

I resolve, on your behalf, not to get all bent out of shape if a toddler is making noise in public.

We were all toddlers. We all cried, we all laughed, we all shrieked for no reason. Trust me, you will be closer to Zen if you simply accept the noise as part of life. "But! But! The parents! The parents shouldn't subject us t-" Ssh. Zen. Seriously. And no, I don't have kids.

I resolve, on your behalf, never to use the phrase "going forward" ever again.

Within the office environment, this phrase rears its head at least a couple times per day, a number that increases exponentially depending on how many meetings you have to deal with. On the surface, it gives the air of official-ness, and implies that bold action is imminent. When someone says "going forward," what they are in effect saying is, "shit is about to go down, my friends."

Here's the thing, though: 99% of the time, it's just excess verbiage. It does nothing to enhance the meaning of the sentence. You can remove it entirely, and nothing changes. You're still saying the exact same thing. The only case where it works is if it's being used as the actual verb.

• "Going forward, we will be using the new spreadsheet form." • "The client called, she wants us to use the smaller logo going forward." • "Impeachment proceedings against Blagojevich are going forward." Ding! Correct.

If anything, the phrase is a substitute for saying "from now on." But if means the same thing, why add the extra syllable? We have lives to lead, for pity's sake. Knock out a few syllables, and let me get back to Googling girls I liked in college. I mean, working.

Splendid! Your New Year's resolutions are now in the books. Don't you feel much better? All the effort and hassle, and the only thing you had to do was sit there and read.

By the way, the above constitutes a legally binding document, and by reading it you agree to carry out all provisions therein.