Get a girlfriend.
Every year, Trevor and I would put our New Year’s resolutions under the shed behind his house on Madden Place.
We were crazy then.
Before we put the resolutions under the shed, we’d do the “polar bear club” lap of shame and run around Trevor’s house in our boxers.
Of course, it wasn’t as cold as Montana, but you’re kidding yourself if you don’t think December in Indiana is cold – at least when you’re only in boxers.
Trevor and I would stick three or four resolutions each under that shed.
At the time, we were all about it, certain we’d stick with our plans, certain we’d become better people.
The following New Year’s Eve, we’d return to the shed and check our progress.
No sign of the resolutions.
Where’d they go? Had they withered away? Decomposed? Or did Trevor’s older sister find them and dispose of them just for a laugh?
I still remember those looks of dismay once we couldn’t find them.
“How do we know if we’ve improved or not?” we’d ask, often unaware what our resolutions were in the first place.
Whether we could remember them or not, what mattered is we did it together. Follow-through didn’t matter, either. We were young, naïve and arrogant high school kids.
Year after year, the same thing would happen. Only once did we ever find one of our resolutions
Keep a girlfriend.
It was Trevor’s.
And, no, he didn’t keep a girlfriend that year. In his defense, however, not keeping that girlfriend remains a good thing to this day.
Trevor is married more than 10 years now, living in Nashville, where he lays tile and works as a recording engineer. He always wanted his life to revolve around music. For all we know, “become a recording engineer” may have been a resolution he put under the shed.
I’m married now, too, and I can honestly say I’ve never had a better woman. Sometimes I wake up amazed, wondering how I deserve her. We live in Lewistown, Montana, where I write for the local newspaper and she works at the local library. We enjoy small-town life and feel fortunate to have found each other here. And, like Trevor, I haven’t abandoned my passion for music, as I perform originals and covers regularly, playing guitar and singing both solo and with a band.
Our resolutions of the past have withered and wrinkled, decomposed, but it’s safe to say we’re living the lives we hoped we’d be living when we put the resolutions under the shed 15-plus years ago.
Although we both live miles away from our hometown, every New Year’s we keep in touch, sharing new resolutions via text message.
We don’t get carried away, but we share some practical promises we hope to keep in order to improve our lives. This year, my resolutions include being a better husband (listening more intently and being more direct), writing more essays for myself, furthering my freelance career, spending less time on my phone (be it texting or perusing social media), exercising more regularly and meditating more.
Trevor has some, too: embrace the change in career (and make a big move forward), get back to healthy eating after the holidays, write more and “make only music I love.”
We could go on and on, but we want resolutions to stay practical. No one needs to go overboard: resolutions should be fun, and they should be a challenge. Here are a few good examples of resolutions I saw in the Boston Globe: experience awe, be adventurous, eat foods that improve your moods (nuts, seeds, salmon, avocado, spinach), expand your friend zone, learn something new and nurture your inner artist. The last one on their list puts it pretty perfectly: do good and do better.
If you are writing new year’s resolutions this year, I wish you the best of luck and I hope that you are able to improve your life, no matter how big or how small the change.
No need to put your resolutions under a shed or run a lap around the house in your boxers. I don’t know if the tradition ever helped our resolutions come true, but, who knows…