First off, a do: Do make a New Year’s resolution. Starting the year off with a goal (or two or three) in mind is a productive, motivating way to get in the right mindset for the spring semester and beyond. The tricky part about making resolutions, however, is the pressure you get from outside sources. The Internet is teeming with articles and posts about resolutions and how to achieve them. It’s tempting to ignore the idea altogether when you’re bombarded with these unrealistic depictions. The following are some common New Year’s resolutions, from two perspectives: the healthy, achievable way; and the idealistic, going-to-disappoint you way.
• DO resolve to stay healthy: Whatever being healthy means to you—going to the gym more, sticking with your yoga regimen, cutting back on coffee, eating more fruits and veggies—resolving to do more of it is a great idea. No matter how much of an improvement you make, it’s an improvement, a step closer to achieving your goal, so when you look back a year from now, you’ll feel accomplished.
• DON’T resolve to lose weight: Deciding to exercise more is one thing: it’s a broad yet achievable goal that’s going to make you feel good about yourself, inside and out. Resolving to lose weight puts a number on your accomplishments, which means that if you can’t reach that number, you’re going to be let down. Being healthy isn’t a number to begin with, so don’t let that define your success.
• DO resolve to improve your academics: We all have something we can improve on this department: for some, it’s staying organized and on-top of assignments; for others, it’s challenging themselves academically. Identify how you can improve, and make it a priority for the year. It gives you something specific to work toward, and if all goes well, you should see your efforts reflected in your GPA.
• DON’T resolve to get straight A’s: Like losing weight, this resolution puts a concrete number on your goals. It doesn’t challenge you to improve a certain area of your work or routine, but ambiguously demands that you do better without a plan for doing so. Getting better grades isn’t automatically reflective of better class performance or improved critical thinking skills; it may just show that you’ve been challenging yourself less.
• DO resolve to “get out there more”: Deciding to socialize more, especially if you tend to hold yourself up in your dorm room more often than not, may be a great goal for you. Meeting new people is the best way to explore new interests, learn about yourself, and discover passions you never knew you had.
• DON’T resolve to get a boy/girlfriend: If your goal hinges on success in the dating arena, you’re probably going to be disappointed. You might get lucky and meet the right guy or girl next semester, but you very well might not—and that’s not a reflection on you.
In general, make sure your resolutions work toward self-improvement. Don’t use an unrealistic number to define success; you should feel accomplished because you feel better about yourself—how you get there is up to you.