Graphics by Zach Crogan
Predictions for the coming year are myriad. As always, humanity stares out at the vast landscape of the future, wondering what comes next, in fear, or in wonder. Scientists wave their arms, warning that the paltry agreements made in Paris will not save the world from climate change on their own. You wish no one had a gun, and your bumper stickers will tell us so, or you’re armed at breakfast, and your bumper stickers will tell us so. The mind reels when one begins to think of the smear of humanity that has been wiped across this planet for eons, and how our individual lives are merely specks in a grand scheme beyond our comprehension.
But what does this all mean for you? Who are you going to be in the coming year? Are you going to stay put with the same person you’ve grown into, known and been loved for your entire life, taking in the small joys and quiet moments when happiness takes hold of us and suddenly, if only for an instant, to be human feels sublime? Of course not. In such fast moving, frightening times, we must remain adaptable, pliant, even-keeled. Music, clothing, the truth, and your sense of self are all flexible things, and you’ve known this about yourself for some time now. Welcome to the Ten Point Plan for a New You™.
# 1 Release Your Sense of Self
You have been you for an exhausting amount of time; your entire life. Who will be more surprised to see the new you than you? It is not essential, but recommended that you delete all contacts from your phone at this time. Better yet, keep all your contacts, but refuse to acknowledge anyone who contacts you with regards to your personal ties. Delete the music off of your computer. Sell or donate your wardrobe. Or don’t, just remember that it should all be ready to be put on fire sale at a moment’s notice. Deep roots will only hold you firmly in place.
Cleanse your mind of the responsibilities of your former self. Your friends and family will understand with time. It is imperative that you don’t tell anyone you know of your plans, or you will sully the process, effectively rendered steps 2-10 moot. This is a slow process, and a lot for other people who aren’t you to handle. Circumvent this by making willful omission of your 10 point plan the first change in your life. Changes must be made in order, it’s time to let go.
# 2 Tune in
Engage with your peer group socially as much as possible. Answer any questions about the last awkward phone call where you pretended not to know someone with a smile and just wave it away with a hazy excuse. Try to keep things surface, but if pressed, rare illness, meditation retreats, and rehab are all good things to mix into a 30 second explanation. Be vague. Make yourself a visible character, shining forth your many pleasurable traits, real or imagined. Redouble your efforts in your professional and casual fields of interest by becoming an active member of your respective communities, or start your own interest group. Peaceably acquiesce to popular opinion for the time being, in order to build bonds of trust.
Become a trusted maven, the first one in on new musical fads and style trends. Indulge in the spare, robotic minutiae of teched-out spandex one moment, then combine the simplicity of trends of years past with newer, irreverent labels. Do not be afraid to ingest the tough as nails american gestalt of workwear, regardless of your background, in these utilitarian times, those clothes and anthems could be the pick up truck for your soul. Never be the first for anything, but make sure you are the ever more visible second once you see or hear something good.
# 3 Tune out
Relieve yourself from the stress of leadership immediately! As you have increased the joy register on your face (measured in smiles per minute) you have set the bar impossibly high, setting expectations of reliability you cannot meet. It was good that you stepped up and made promises to your family, church, company, children, employer, and/or confidants, but if they are truly in your corner, they will understand if you once again cease all contact immediately. Spend this time finding neutral space, such as an awkward empty space inside of a Target, or even a museum. If you do happen to run into an acquaintance in the physical world, inform them you are concentrating on thinking “Medium-sized thoughts.” Say no more.
# 4 Now Tune in Again
You must initiate this step at the perfect time. Too soon after you have “tuned out” and people will assume that you’ve been working on something and might ask you in depth questions about it, too long and people will forget about you completely. Wait until requests for your presence have nearly given way to bangs on your door to make sure you’re not dead. If you are unsure if people would check to make sure you were alive if you disappeared, revisit step #2 for a month before cycling back into step #3.
# 5 Spread Discord Amongst Family and Friends
You have now put forth several varying but equally loved versions of yourself to your friends and family, and it is time to put that love to the test. Slowly begin to tell small non-truths about yourself. Accounting for a multi-dimensional universe with many parallel timelines, your life is only as it is in this dimension. It is therefore unwise to not account for the alternate universe versions of you that double majored in linguistics, or dropped out of Parsons for political reasons. This sort of spirited conjecture should be mixed in with personal information that has previously been kept quiet. Steer well clear of character assassination, instead opting for oblique character questioning. Routine thoughtless social infractions can be made ten times worse when you share the experience with a friend, and their only response is something as unnerving as “That’s how they feel, isn’t it?” or “They’re like that with you?” Do not go further into detail after introducing the haunting glow of doubt, no matter how hard you are pressed.
# 6 Show Support for Ideas That go Against Your Core Beliefs
Now that you have abandoned the roots of your singular self, established yourself as a trusted leader and point person, then showing how vital that role is by abandoning it without warning, it is time to show how magnanimous you can be, just not with any causes that reflect your actual beliefs. Even you may be surprised at the results. You have already begun to sow the seeds of discontent amongst your loved ones, double down on your experiment by turning the tables on yourself. Whether this means dolphin skin interiors for your Jeep Wrangler, selling faulty life insurance, or becoming a trend forecaster, it’s imperative that you not waver in the face of your moral 180, it’s all part of the process. Do not be surprised if you begin to earn a higher income while manifesting step #6.
# 7 Develop New Habits
According to Self-Concept Theory, no one is born with a self-concept. Now that you are on the path to a rebirth of self, you a free to create your new self-concept from the ground up. What is your new self motivation? As a newly found self starter, look to past rallies of righteous aggression while engaging in peaceful self-learning techniques. The author suggests several notable Winston Churchill speeches be taken in during your new early morning tai chi practice. Gambling, particularly horse racing and roulette are also highly recommended.
# 8 Engage in Sabotage
Many self help guides will push you to do something that scares you, and this guide is no different. There are any number of creative ways to push this envelope while continuing to shake up the banal life you have built for yourself that slowly became a prison as you added bills and responsibility over time, until you looked in the mirror one day and forgot who you really were. Your options at this juncture range from petty theft to grand larceny; the only certainty is that you must steal, and you must run. The success that you have set up for your new self in steps 1-7 have made you pliable, but they have also made you weak. Insure your lookout is a gossip, but not a snitch. Leave rumors in the wind, but no pictures on Instagram. As with all stories of wrongdoing without violence, exaggerate to taste.
# 9 Divest
If you have been ardently following the steps up until this point, it is now well into the new year. The seasons are changing, and the technical period of “Summer” is behind you, even if the thermostat remains unchanged. As you gaze at trees in the park, coworkers in thought, or other sedentary objects, you might begin to think about the rut that you are now in. A Churchillian thief with a pentient for western takes on meditative practices, you have renounced your former self, become the cornerstone of your social world, disappeared, reappeared, given money and time to ideas and causes you actively stand against in your soul, while casting a mysterious pall upon your past, making those closest to you unsure about you, and about themselves. You probably feel a faint ache somewhere in between your spleen and your gall bladder that almost resembles guilt. Isn’t it time for a change?
# 10 Moving on
During the course of this 10 point plan, you have seen the power of abandoning your sense of right and wrong, and your sense of self, let alone your personal tastes. This experience will make the final step the easiest of all. Once you are through with steps 1-9 it is time to drop the whole system completely a move on to a new way of life. This is achievable through intensive plastic surgery, or, in a more cost effective light, shaving your head. Changing your name, quitting your job, and selling off your earthly possessions are all viable options if you’re uncertain of your next step. Acknowledge this and quickly move to action, as you have learned to do over the past year, but before you do anything, look in the mirror and say hello to the new you.