5 New Year’s resolutions for gearheads

The idea of New Year’s resolutions is one I personally don’t understand. If you are doing what you like to do (so long as it’s not hurting anyone), you shouldn’t need a flamboyant course-correction when the calendar flips back round to January. In my experience, most resolutions fail anyway, partly because people are too optimistic in what they intend to do, and partly because they aren’t doing something for themselves but rather trying to impress or conform when they really have no intention to follow through.

There are a bunch of common gearhead resolutions, but most of them are setting you up for failure. Instead of that, here are five ideas that can make you, your car, and the greater car community better, while also being attainable.

30 minutes each week

Wide shot of Kyle Smith Garage
Kyle Smith

Nothing makes me roll my eyes harder than watching my friends share declarations of “I will finish my project car this year!” You won’t, and the rest of us will very much enjoy bringing up your public announcement in the depths of December when your poor car has still not been pulled from its jack stand perch.

So here is my recommendation—dial your goal in. Things will pop up in your project that might make driving within a year a pipe dream. Instead, lay a plan for regular and focused work on the project. Earlier this year I purchased a new house and was finishing my garage. It was a large task, but I dedicated 30 minutes a day of work. In reality, 30 minutes isn’t much: clean one part, install something, prep tools for a bigger job. This is just a spin on that old saying of “how do you eat an elephant?” It’s all about one small bite at a time and suddenly you are on the road again.

Read more books

Bookshelf in Hagerty Meeting room
Greg Ingold

Knowledge is power in every aspect of life. I spend a lot of time poring over service manuals, but I should really be spending more time reading history. There is a book for every interest, and learning more never hurt anybody. Of course, just because it is in print does not make it a fact, but a well-research book is often packed with more information and is just more fun to read than any internet article–and that is coming from a guy who writes internet articles. Pick out one or two from your local library and set a deadline. No book reports required, but at least share some of your favorite titles when you are finished with them.

Schedule five drives

Healey on dirt road
Kyle Smith

Epic road trips are great, but a short trip to a good driving road or a planned cruise with your friends can be just as much fun. If you are anything like me, you have dozens of excuses to weasel out of a plan that comes up on short notice—like being busy with something you planned a few weeks ago. Sit down in January and find a hole in your calendar and write down that you are driving that day. Maybe to an event, or maybe just driving for the sake of driving.

Quit smoking

Tucker exhaust smoke at Pebble Beach
Kyle Smith

Does your classic burn a little oil on startup or while warming up? Let 2021 be the year to deal with it. Valve stem seals aren’t a terrible project, but are involved enough to have a real sense of accomplishment when complete. Pick a sizable project for your skillset and start laying out your plan to knocking it out. That might mean a deep clean of your paint and interior or a refresh of that tired Positraction rear axle. Though that last one would likely lead to more smoking in the end. Tire smoke that is.

Volunteer or donate

Great Race finish line Peerless
Kayla Keenan

You probably have a favorite event to take your car to, but what do you do to make sure that event continues successfully? Just about any event ever known would be happy with more volunteers, especially ones who are familiar with the event and want to see it succeed. Spending some of your time goes a long way and can help more than you realize.

If time is short but you have a few dollars to spare, donate to a great event, education program, or museum. A few dollars go a long way for organizations and can allow them to curate or create opportunities for aspiring car folks. Find a group whose work you like and help them do more of it from the comfort of your couch. I mean really, volunteering or donating is the easiest New Years’ resolution you could take on and both make you feel better while also helping the car community.

Have a resolution that is not on the list? Leave it in the Hagerty Comunity below.

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