The New Year's Resolution You Should Make, Based On Your Fave Literary Character

by Charlotte Ahlin
Laurie Sparham/Focus Features

It's that time of the year again! Late December is when we all sit down to list our worst qualities, and vow that next year we shall all be more productive, svelte, and generally excellent people. Sure, there's no actual reason to make your resolutions in early January as opposed to any other time of the calendar year. But getting a symbolic clean slate can be helpful when you want an excuse to really think about your current goals. This year, instead of giving yourself unrealistic standards of fitness, cleanliness, and so forth, I encourage you all to look to your bookshelf for your resolution inspiration. Here are a few healthy New Year's resolutions, based on your favorite literary character.

To be clear, I'm not saying that you should be emulating all of these characters in 2018. With a few notable exceptions, most of these characters have... problems. They're flawed. And that's fine, because no one wants to read about perfect people lounging around being fit and wealthy (we have reality TV for that). These resolutions are inspired by things that your favorite literary characters do well and by things that they could be doing better. So shake off the dust of the old year, throw away those unrealistic diet plans, and check out some of these literary resolutions:


Jay Gatsby: Move on

Jay. Buddy. Pal. It's time to move the heck on. If you're going into the new year with a broken heart, or a list of petty resentments against all your old money neighbors, don't be a Gatsby about it. Find a way to let it go. Stop creeping on your ex's new girlfriend's Instagram. Don't throw parties just to impress a cutie who is now married to a racist. Taking time to recover from a break-up or a disappointment is fine, but at a certain point, you can't repeat the past, no matter how big your mansion.


Jane Eyre: Spend some quality time with yourself

On the one hand, Jane Eyre is a torrid romance between Jane and a gross imperialist dude who keeps his mentally ill first wife locked in an attic. But on the other hand, Jane Eyre is one of the first novels by a woman to have the resounding message: "If you can't love yourself, how the hell are you going to love anybody else?" Jane only marries Rochester once she's mentally, emotionally, and financially independent and equal to him. So spend some quality time getting to know yourself this year (and avoid guys with attic wives).


Hamlet: Make a damn decision

Do you feel paralyzed by indecision? Are you in your thirties and still can't handle the idea of your mom having a new boyfriend? Don't be Hamlet. Don't wait until the very end of the play to take action. Make your resolution this year to stop dawdling and try something new: get that trendy haircut, start that passion project, apply for that highly paid job, and stop taking all your fear out on Ophelia.


Celie: Find a support network

In The Color Purple, young Celie is shoved from one abusive man to another. She lives through horrific violence, and her two children are taken away from her as infants. It's only through the strength and support of the other women in her life that she's able to find solace and fight back against her abuser. Take a cue from Celie, and make some time to support and be supported by your friends in the new year, especially if you find yourself struggling.


Mr. Darcy: Get more in touch with your feelings

Mr. Darcy might be most awkward love interest in all of literature. It takes him a whole dang book to admit that he likes Lizzie, when most of us could have told you that right at the start. In honor of the supremely repressed Mr. Darcy, resolve to open up about your feelings a little more next year. Tell people when you're hurt or when you like them, and don't try to ruin your crush's sister's chance at love.


Hermione Granger: Keep resisting

It's easy to feel burnt out about politics right now. But Hermione Granger wouldn't let you give up. Hermione Granger would tell you to keep calling your representatives. Hermione Granger would drag you to the library to read up on your rights as a private citizen, then knit a couple of hats for house-elves, and then top it all off by punching a Death Eater in the face. Follow Hermione's lead, and don't let yourself become complacent in the face of evil.


Daenerys Tarygaryen: Think before you act

Think, Daenerys. Think before you take over a city and inadvertently wreck the global economy, killing thousands. Daenerys has good intentions most of the time: she wants to help people! But... she's not great at thinking her plans through all the way. Good intentions don't actually mean all that much when you've brought plague to the people of Asatpor. Make a resolution that you, unlike Daenerys, will weigh the pros and cons and get all the facts before you spout off any uninformed opinions or take over any foreign city-states.


Catherine Earnshaw: Work towards being less judgmental

Cathy and Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights have a car crash of a relationship. They're both a little bit terrible, but they genuinely love each other. Cathy doesn't think that Heathcliff is good enough for her, though, and she chooses to go with the milquetoast, high class suitor instead. Resolve that you will never cast aside the man you love simply because of his class. Also... have you been outside today? Go outside more.


Anne Shirley: Make up your mind to enjoy things

Anne Shirley tells us, “It's been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.” That doesn't mean ignoring the bad things or skipping around in a state of forced gaiety. Anne simply understands that positive thinking can go a long way towards getting through the day, even when your life isn't quite perfect.


Holden Caulfield: Ask for help

A lot of people roll their eyes at Holden and his stupid hat. But Holden is clearly not OK. He's struggling with grief over his brother's death, and he's channeling his sadness into being a pretentious ass. Resolve that if you find yourself in Holden's position, you'll summon the courage to ask for help. There's nothing shameful about asking for help, after all, and you don't even have to read The Catcher in the Rye to do it.

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