We hate New Year’s Resolutions. They strike us as cheesy and obvious and trite. And a little arbitrary, no? Why not March 17th Resolutions or St. Patrick’s Day Resolutions? After all, you’re pretty much the same dude on January 1st as you were on December 31st, just a little older, a little poorer, and a billion times more hung over. Not much changes. A New Year’s Resolution is to self-improvement what Valentine’s Day is to romance.
Then again… be honest. Did you make resolutions on St. Patrick’s Day? Did you actually think about self-improvement throughout the year? Me neither. So, yes, at the risk of following the herd and mooing, we’ll seize the opportunity. It’s not life-changing. It’s not earth-shattering. But self-improvement, like nearly all improvement, is incremental.
Fair warning: The bulk this list applies for all men, but we’ve sprinkled in a few just for guys getting married.
1. Go to the gym for the first 7 days of January, then stop.
Why bullshit yourself? Let’s call it like it is. Every item on this list is something you can actually do without overhauling your schedule, habits, finances, or relationship.
2. Filter your Twitter
A good rule of thumb: If at least 5 people won’t find your thought interesting, don’t Twitter it, Mutter it.
3. Don’t be a Favre.
Commit or don’t commit. But don’t play Hamlet with your lady.
4. Surprise her with an omelet.
5. Don’t freak out if she’s freaking out.
It’s natural. And after the wedding, she’ll return to normal. For perspective, when you watch a football game you scream obscenities, your face gets all red and scary, and you yell at players who are 2,000 miles away and wouldn’t listen to you anyway. And somehow she still accepts you. (Now if only the wedding planning could be condensed into three hours…) More on Bridezilla here.
6. Visit your family…
…When you don’t have to. So on a weekend besides Thanksgiving or whatever, arrange a low-stress visit that’s unfettered by ceremony.
7. Get a new suit.
Not something for job interviews, but something stylish and casual for your punishing schedule of social events. Get it tailored. Splurge on a new tie and well-fitted dress shirt–the details count.
8. Don’t be “That Guy.”
You know That Guy. He brags about expensive shit he just bought, he kisses up to the boss, and, in all likelihood, he can’t stop talking about how awesome his wedding will be. Never be That Guy.
9. Take up smoking.
It’s fun. It’s the perfect excuse to take a break from work. And cigarettes are medically proven to have fewer calories, fat, and carbohydrates than fruit or vegetables.
10. Don’t do everything you see on dumb New Year’s Resolution Lists.
Like the above. And if you meet the dual criteria of: 1) smoker; 2) getting married, use this as your final, ironclad reason to quit. You’re now in a family, so you’re infesting them with nicotine, too. Also? You started smoking so you could look cool. You’ll soon be married. You no longer have to look cool.
11. Preserve the open bar.
If the budget for a wedding gets tight, you will be looking for places to cut corners. Never, ever, ever scrimp at your bar. For more, see The Plunge’s Wedding Booze Bible.
12. Spend at least 5 minutes on real news for every 10 minutes of fake news.
What counts as fake news? Celeb gossip, sporting news (happily, actual games are excluded) and either FOXNews or MSNBC.
13. Next time you’re about to hit the usual bar, try a new bar.
14. Check email less frequently.
Especially when you’re not in the office, almost nothing in life is so urgent, so pressing, that it demands your response within 7 minutes. (Note to that one 911 operator reading ThePlunge: this does not apply to you.)
15. Continue to ignore wedding stationary.
This year will be expensive. No matter how steep the costs, no matter how absurd your finances, you’ll sleep better if you squirrel away some cash each month.
17. Laugh at the wedding porn.
…But also remember that–as much as it kills us to say this–your fiancée needs a lot of it (or at least some of it) to plan the nuts and bolts.
18. Practice your speeches.
Just “winging” your groom speech is the second worst thing you can do, after boffing the bachelor party stripper. Jot down your thoughts, practice, memorize. More here.
19. Try getting everywhere 5 minutes early.
20. Call old friends at least once a month.
It happens: we lose touch with our old friends. And we rely on fast-food-communications like Facebook, Twitter, and text messaging to communicate. Look, I despise talking on the phone, but even I’ll admit that the sporadic comment on Facebook of “Ha! Funny pic” is no way to preserve a friendship. Remember your old friends. To clarify: this doesn’t mean that you need to call every friend once a month. Let’s be reasonable. But at least once a month, carve out some time to call an old buddy. In this year of change, you need the thread of continuity.
22. Think 5 Years Out.
I know, I know, this sounds so cheesy we’re personally repulsed by it. Eye-roll away, but this exercise works. As preposterously Self-Helpy as it sounds, jotting down “5 Year Goals” and “1 Year Goals” will clarify your thinking and recalibrate your priorities. [Shudder.] Did we just say all that? Forgive us.
23. Rattle your sex routine.
Surprise her. Ambush her. (Without being creepy.) In the several thousand years that people have chronicled these things, spontaneity has never once hurt a relationship. Except with OJ.
24. Spend more time with real friends than online friends.
25. Turn the phone off.
When people are suspected of alcoholism, one of the first things a doctor will ask is, “Could you go the next month without having a drink?” It’s a scary question. (Um… not that I would know…) So, we ask you: could you go a full day–on a weekend–without your CrackBerry or iPhone? Try it. On a relaxed Saturday, make your plans in advance, flip your phone off, and leave it at home. Shockingly therapeutic.
26. Stop beating yourself up about things you haven’t done, and remember your accomplishments (if you can’t remember any, at all, you bigger problems).
27. Get your groomsmen good gifts.
Not flasks. Not shot glasses. And not personalized “brands”–who the hell uses those? For gifts that don’t suck, try here.
28. Watch old movies.
Peel back a few layers in Netflix and catch up on the classics. A good (and free) date.
29. Do yoga.
Nah. Just making sure you’re paying attention.
30. Think about your relationship.
When you’re engaged–or in any serious relationship, or hell, when you’ve just met someone–it’s easy to get swept up by inertia, thinking about the tactical, day-to-day stuff, not the big picture. Starting with the premise that you are, in fact, happy with this woman, steal 30 minutes to think about it, to savor it, and to assimilate what all this shit means.
31. Walk more.
32. Read one book a _____.
Where ____ is a realistic timeframe. Maybe it’s one book a month. Maybe it’s one book every two weeks. Competitive? Make it once a week. Amidst the chaotic demands of work, dating, internet, texts, and tv, reading is the first thing to go. It’s also the first thing that will restore your sanity.
33. Get her flowers when you’re not apologizing.
34. Tip well.
More on tipping the mysterious wedding vendors here.
35. Mix in some outdoor-dates.
Our entire society is geared to force dates indoors: bars, restaurants, movies, concerts, coffee shops. Even if you’re well past the courtship phase, and even if you’re both not outdoorsy-people, dramatically change the scenery by going outdoors. Hike. Picnic. Camp. It’s refreshing and it’s intimate and, best of all, it’s dirt cheap.
36. Remember Byes.
Before you draft your backup quarterback, don’t forget to check the schedule.
37. Keep dreaming.
38. Keep laughing at obnoxious-as-hell-man-I-want-to-barf platitudes like “keep dreaming.”
39. Get a token for your parents.
This isn’t easy for them. Even if they’re not contributing a nickel to your wedding, and even if you’re forty years old, this is the nail-in-the-coffin to you being their little boy. It’s not expected and it’s not part of wedding etiquette, but get them a gift that shows your appreciation.
40. Learn to dance.
The first dance matters. This is that rare slice of wedding planning that brings you closer to your fiancée. Take lessons. Practice. More on the first dance.
41. Ask the Big Questions
Before the deal is sealed, get 100% comfortable with the Big Questions in your relationship: values, religion, trust, kids, finances, and all that annoying junk. This stuff matters. Love doesn’t conquer all. At least, not the capricious, juvenile “feeling” of love that you get at age 16–love is a necessary but not sufficient criteria. Take the quiz Is She the One.
42. Get yourself a birthday present 6 months before your birthday.
Why the hell not?
43. Pick up tennis.
Or golf. Or wine tasting. Or deep-sea diving. Or heroin. Just do something new that shakes up a potential slide into a joyless routine.
44. Always double-down on 11.
Even against a 10, even against an Ace. If you want to extend this metaphor: when you know the right thing to do, do it, even if there’s a 30+% chance you will lose.
45. Step up when you have to.
Plenty of times we joke about dozing off on your groom responsibilities, but when push comes to shove, shove. Don’t let her down. More on that here.
46. Continue to ignore table decorations.
47. Talk to her.
This is a big year. And there will bound to be disagreements. It’s better to talk that stuff through, get it in the open, communicate.
48. Only Friend people on Facebook who are actually your friends.
It’s not that serious. You’ll be fine. Don’t listen to people who try and add pressure.
50. Don’t screw up.
This is the biggest day of your life. Don’t blow it.