Practical New Year’s resolutions prove key to success
The ability to set and achieve goals for oneself is a valuable skill in all aspects of life, especially for college students, and there is no better time to reevaluate and do just that than the beginning of the year.
Often, this desire for improvement surfaces in the form of New Year’s resolutions. The Washington Post reported that though nearly half of the American population makes resolutions, “25 percent of (people) don’t stick with it for more than seven measly days.”
According to USA.gov, some of the most common New Year’s resolutions are to get fit, volunteer to help others, quit smoking and save money. Despite the anticipated mental and physical benefits, many people struggle to keep their resolutions.
One reason for this difficulty is that many goals are unspecific and immeasurable. In a 2008 interview with National Public Radio, John C. Norcross of the University of Scranton said that people should try to make realistic and attainable goals.
“You know, someone says, ‘I’m going to lose 50 pounds and keep it off this year’ versus ‘I think I’ll struggle to keep 10 off’ — that’s a little more realistic,” Norcross said. “People who are serious about making changes should do so less drastically and in a way that makes their progress easy to measure. If you can’t measure it, it’s not a very good resolution, because vague goals beget vague resolutions.”
Charts, journals and accountability partners are great tools to help keep resolutions — especially for college students who have busy schedules and tight budgets. Research from Carnegie Mellon University shows that monetary rewards and the buddy system are also effective motivators in accomplishing personal goals.
“I think it’s definitely true that the years I was able to keep my resolutions were also the years that I endeavored to do so with the help of others,” said communication sciences and disorders freshman Christian Rodgers. “In high school, the first time I set out to make all A’s and actually succeeded was a year that I was surrounded by the top students in the class, so the accountability really helped.”
Despite being difficult to keep, New Year’s resolutions have excellent benefits.
“When making New Year’s resolutions, I generally find it more effective to make a short list of manageable goals. Long lists of goals can be overwhelming and difficult to stick to,” said biology junior Corinne Lane. “This year I am making a list of no more than five goals, as I think I would be unlikely to follow through on any more than that.”
The question is not whether there is or is not a way to improve oneself, but rather which goals are the most practical and achievable for the upcoming year.
Opinion columnist Rebekah Richardson is a liberal studies freshman and may be reached at [email protected]