Road Resolutions You Can Stick to All Year Round
By Stephanie Georgopulos
New Year’s resolutions were born to be broken. Admit it: It doesn’t take a calendar shift to make solid life changes. It takes a priority shift. A mind renovation, if you will.
Even so, it’s important to set goals and stick to them, no matter what day of the year it is. And where better to start than your second home? (I mean your car, not your office.) Sometimes we treat driving as though it’s just a means to an end, when really it’s an experience. It’s a time to be alone with our thoughts, or a quiet opportunity to bond with our loved ones, or a chance to listen to our favorite satellite music station. All too often, those simple pleasures are eclipsed by little frustrations that are actually in our power to control. It’s easy to miss the joys of the open road if your car’s oil light is blinking incessantly and your CDs are sliding across the seat at every turn. Who wants that?
Drivers and passengers alike can improve the quality of their journeys and their state of mind by making resolutions for the road. Here are six foolproof ways to improve the time you spend on the move this year.
1. Clean out your car on a regular basis. This means recycling old water bottles, putting your flashlight back in the emergency kit where it belongs and returning that Bruce Springsteen album to its rightful jewel case when you’ve finished listening to it. Do you want to break Bruce’s hungry heart? I didn’t think so.
It also means having trunk space ready for your groceries, which equals zero anxiety when someone needs to sit in your back seat. There is no greater shame than the backseat of your car looking like you dumped the contents of your closet on it. Cleaning up a big mess feels overwhelming, but if you clean as you go there won’t be an opportunity for the junk and disorder to accumulate. Making an effort to never leave the car empty-handed goes a long way toward keeping your Pig Pen tendencies in check.
2. Keep your vehicle outfitted with spare tires and other equipment so you’re always ready for an emergency. You’re probably no Boy Scout, but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared for worst-case scenarios. This will mitigate your stress when you’re in hot water, and it never hurts to be proactive when it comes to safety. When’s the last time you checked the air pressure on your spare tire? How long has it been since you checked the contents of your roadside assistance kit? Take care of that today.
3. Put your phone away when you’re on the move. Did you know that texting drivers are 23 times more likely to get into an accident? I don’t know about you, but nothing I have to say via text message is that important. The road deserves 100 percent of attention—and so do the drivers sharing it with you. If you need to call or text someone, find a gas station or a rest stop and talk while the car is parked.
4. Check your owner’s manual for suggested maintenance schedules. The suggestions exist for a reason! If there’s something up with your car, you don’t want to find out when it’s too late. Taking preventive measures pays off. Your local GM dealer will be happy to make sure your car is in tip-top shape.
5. Practice keeping your cool when other drivers get aggressive. You can’t control a bad driver or their actions; you can only control the way you react to them. Take a deep breath, count to 10 and change lanes if the culprit is too close for comfort. Throw on a little Sade if you really start to unravel; that always works for me.
6. See the USA—as you’ve never seen it before. Sometimes we become so focused on the clock or on a to-do list that we completely miss out on the journey. But the ride is why we love our wheels in the first place! It’s why we choose the car over a train or a bus. It’s why we take days and even weeks away from the humdrum of everyday life to go road tripping when we could just as easily fly. No matter what was happening when you departed and what you imagine will happen at your destination, remember to soak in the scenery and open yourself up to viewing the world from a whole new perspective.
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Stephanie Georgopulos is an editor at Thought Catalog. Her work has been featured on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, The Awl, Gizmodo, The Next Web, Refinery 29 and elsewhere.