One tradition of ushering in a new year is determining to change over the next 12 months—however, students should not put too much stock in resolutions because they are often unrealistic and hard to maintain.
Students need to face the facts—New Year’s resolutions have become more of a social exercise and less of an actual attempt at improving life. For some reason, every year I, and everyone I know, make vague and outlandish resolutions to become a better person. These goals are made and shared with full acceptance of the fact that most of them will be abandoned by the time February rolls around.
I am the type of person who makes resolutions every year only to fall short and feel completely wretched about myself for months afterwards. The idea of 12 brand new months to fill with life always makes me so hopeful, and I make ridiculous goals ignoring the fact that I will not be able to achieve most of them.
Now I am not saying resolutions are all bad. In fact, I admire anyone tenacious enough to stick to their New Year’s goals for the whole year. Also, the act of examining one’s life and determining which areas need improvement is important and healthy for everyone to do.
However, if you are like me and find yourself making resolutions every year hoping this will be the year you make it, I have got news for you—it most likely will not be. If making goals at the stroke of midnight has not worked in the past, it will not miraculously start now. Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, and that is exactly what is happening every New Year’s Eve.
Instead of making resolutions, students should try making smaller goals and a plan to implement those new practices in their day-to-day lives. One of the hardest parts of New Year’s resolutions is figuring out how to reach the end goal. Making smaller goals leading to a larger one helps solidify and cultivate positive habits in everyday life without overwhelming.
Additionally, resolutions tend to focus on what is going bad in a person’s life instead of what is good. Celebrating positive achievements is just as important as making new improvements. Making a list of good things accomplished throughout the year can be motivating and help students in making their dreams for the new year a reality.
Instead of setting one or two big goals for the upcoming year, I encourage students to instead make three or four smaller ones and then write down a plan for how to incorporate them into everyday life. Weekly and monthly goals are stepping-stones to achieving broader yearlong goals and can help make goals into habits. Resolutions can be positive and effective if approached with enthusiasm and organization instead of dread.
See also http://star.txstate.edu/node/1286