With the drop of another New Year's ball, the return to punching of time clocks, piling into traffic and brewing coffeepots to the brim can finally resume, and the single guy can start a new year.
Whether you've mentally resolved to make it better than the last one, or you've made an actual list of all the changes you may hypocritically overlook, it's time, once again, to start the new year on the right foot, regardless of how poorly it potentially may end.
As you stand by with high hopes of finding a woman as crazy as you are or expect another year dug so deeply into the sofa that the cushions begin to part at the seams, ask yourself whether this is the year you're going to take it up a notch and make the world your oyster, or will you hang loosely from the trees like the sloth everybody thinks you are? Here are some steps you can take to make it the more positive option.
Forgive, Forget and Move On
One of the hardest things for people to let go of is the past. Well, that and a desire for cheeseburgers. The only problem is our inability to change it (the past, that is), raising the question, "Why bother worrying about it?"
No matter which friend stiffed you on the bar tab, manhandled your potential lady lover or darted out of the cab leaving you holding the meter, let the new year be a fresh start for you and all your grudges. Live and let live. Holding onto hatred in the past is only seed for growing hatred in the future, a foul-tasting fruit that will leave you wondering why you were disgruntled in the first place. Forgive others of their wrongs, and hopefully they'll do the same for you. Mend your fences, forget the little squabbles and keep all eyes on the big, bright future that rests ahead this year. If nothing else, Silly String their car to release some tension and then move on.
Make It Better
"It" refers to all of it, every part and everything that comes into contact with you. Whatever limits you felt were reached during peak moments last year, blow right through them and go a little bit further this year.
Don't worry about doing it better than everybody else, as 2013 should be about making yourself better on an individual level. The name of the game is mastering your craft, your relationships and your life in general. Spend your time making everything as good as it can be, making yourself as good as you can be at what you do.
Once you're putting in the hours to become great at what you do, it won't matter what everyone else is doing because you'll be doing it well enough that all they'll see is your trail of dust ahead of them. Expect only the best from only yourself, and everything should progress steadily.
See More, Talk Less
There's something to be said about the power of silence and restraint. Most people spend too much time either in their own heads or speaking to fill an awkward void. Let this year be a perfect time for awkwardness, because if you can get to a point where it's not awkward anymore, there can be something truly cool about sitting quietly and being observant.
It's when we take time to observe ourselves that we notice certain things we wouldn't otherwise see because we're too busy hogging the limelight. Step outside yourself for a few brief moments and feel how much more relaxing it is than listening to constant noise and rap music, which are basically one and the same, anyway.
Use your words wisely, too. Try not to talk constantly, making your words more and more worthless, but save them for when it counts. You might find your jokes generate more laughs and your opinions harvest more thought. Plus, you won't be exhausted from trying to be witty every hour that you're awake. This tip can be translated as "read more, text less," as well.
Slow Your Roll
Everybody has big plans when the year starts anew. There's all this talk about who's going to see the world and who's going to grow a mustache all year and who doesn't care what the bosses say. Why not start simple and small?
Instead of calling out your big-time resolutions and spouting off promises you know you'll never keep, make a few small changes to your life that will close the gaps on your personality in progress and see if people don't notice. That's when it's cool to tell them it's your "resolution," as opposed to shouting it from a rooftop and breaking it half a dozen times before you're back on solid ground. Even if it's just one small change for the better, it'll be a step in the right direction. Remember, it's not the size of the boat; it's the motion of the ocean ... or something like that.
Stay In the Moment
Just as we should forgive and move on, staying in the moment is another perfectly sound way to move to the next step this year and leave everything else behind. The ability to not let the past cloud your instincts and the future weigh on your decisions is a talent worth having.
Any single guy probably has loads of time to himself, meaning it's easy to space out into other places of worry and self-doubt, but it may be best to focus on what's in front of you, even if it's just a sandwich. Step by step, day by day, you'll become better at making the moment you're in as good as it can be if you practice it and you're focused solely on it and not the things that come before or after.
And yes, we meant to add in lyrics from the "Step by Step" theme song. It's good to be nostalgic once in a while, otherwise we're just on a constantly moving train with no stops and terrible food.
More New and Less Repeat
It's a well-known fact that watching some of the greatest films will leave you satisfied and perhaps teach you a thing or two about life, but at some point, it becomes counterproductive and wasteful to watch the movie repeatedly (unless of course it's a Tom Hanks 1980s classic, then you're fine to watch it forever). The same goes for actual life. Once you step outside of your comfort zone, you quickly enter another place full of numerous choices.
Since the single guy lifestyle doesn't require any other person to latch onto his routine, the routine may rarely change, which is to say the same bowl with the same cereal and same expired milk will be applied to the word "breakfast" on a daily basis. Although it may seem small, it could be the first of many repeat choices throughout the day for any single guy.
So, in the spirit of the new year, hang a left out of the driveway for once and take a different route to work. Heck, do it on a bike or even ride the bus to mix it up. Actually, buses are gross and scary, so avoid those for your sanity. The point is to try something new; try everything new. See if you can't reinvent yourself in the little ways and make the big things seem fresh. Don't let yourself become predictable, because that's the death of desire, gentlemen.
A common symptom of singlehood is an introverted approach to life, that is to say, shying away from the crowds, avoiding conversation and watching porn all by yourself. That's weird, right? But who's to say what the appropriate way is to act, anyway? The point is, a lack of outgoingness can be mistaken for a lack of excitement and confidence, which can lead to some less-than-desired life situations, such as costly, lonely nights on the phone with pretty voices you've never met before or getting adjusted by a couple dozen booze bottles that land you in the arms of a woman who may not have her front teeth.
Mix it up this year and push yourself to be a little more extroverted, a little more talkative and a lot more chivalrous. You may not be yourself, but then again, you might like it and realize that you were never "you" to begin with. If things aren't working for you, now is the time to fix them by trying something else. We're not suggesting you try to fix your bank account by robbing the local grocer, but soberly engaging in casual conversation and going out in public when you'd normally watch the boob tube are good for starters.
The human soul is a bottomless, limitless entity full of infinite possibility, kind of like a beer tent at a kid's carnival. There is no height or depth too far away for us to achieve, so think about that as you enter the next 12 months. Take the time to get to know yourself and what it is you want out of this crazy life. Most people never know and go on to make lots of big life decisions, and if that's the case, you should ask again later.
Maturing is not something we do as we go through the pubescent practices of acne medication application and squeaky sentences, it's when we gain a little conscious awareness for the difference between who we want to be and what we actually are. You might find yourself looking in the mirror most mornings, wondering who the guy is staring back at you, a clear sign of disconnect with who you are. If you're miserable while working a job you never wanted, spending time with people who drive you nuts and living in a place that brings you zero happiness but lots of anxieties, it might be time for a one-on-one with yourself.
Life is short, and the year is even shorter, so why waste it being unhappy? It's a question that gets asked thousands of times each day, and with good reason - but only some of us are mature enough to answer it.
Although this year is not booby-trapped with specific dates for the end of the world, it doesn't mean we're safe from other tragedies that lie inside, like unwanted loneliness and bad breath. For the single guy who reigns in us all, may he take on the newest year fearlessly and make every moment his finest. And for the coward who stays in bed and lives in the past watching reruns of "Step by Step" on repeat, may you come to find that happiness is right outside your door ... even if that is a great show.