The Art of Mastering the New Year’s Resolution

Jennifer Bone discusses tips and tricks on how to maximise one's new year's resolutions.

The New Year is an interesting time. Some take full advantage of the opportunity for self-transformation, revealing not only a few of their resolutions, but rather a whole new persona (‘new year, new me’!). Others assert that the New Year is simply a human invention that has no real significance in the grand scale of things. Nevertheless, whether dancing the night away or charging your glass with Jackie Bird, the majority of us choose to make some form of New Year’s resolution. We all like the idea of a clean slate, and so the New Year often seems to be the prime opportunity to consider any adjustments that could be made in our lives.

Yet, in mulling over our resolutions, we generally tend to focus on our weaknesses rather than achievements, and then try to completely eradicate that which is bothering us. Although clichéd, it seems fundamental to highlight how this mind set can lead to defeat instead of accomplishment. Improvements can always be made in our lives and resolutions should be challenging, but we ought to approach the New Year with positivity, creating goals that are enjoyable and achievable.

To give you some inspiration, here are some great student resolutions for 2018: ‘To read more for pleasure’ (Caitlin Speirs), ‘to try to do ten acts of kindness/make ten sacrifices a day and to take fifteen minutes of intentional silence from electronics, music or people’ (Becky Boak), ‘focus on my own mental wellbeing, challenge myself and stop brushing my emotions under the carpet’ (Stephanie Carney), ‘be able to do the splits by the time summer comes around’ (Anita Spivak), ‘I have a different one for each month, so this month it’s to do twenty-five press ups each day + this year I want to learn a new French and German word daily!’ (Miriam Donald), ‘to find more humour in everyday life’ (James Castro), ‘I’ve downloaded this app called 1 Second Everyday, and I’m going to film one second of my life every day so at the end of the year, I can just see a fraction of 2018’ (Rebecca Wood). ‘One goal that I’ve been trying to make a conscious effort of accomplishing is following through with people about what they tell me is going on in their lives (e.g. if they have a test one day, ask them how it went the next time I see them). Also, every day is different, but I want to make a conscious effort to try something new each day!’ (Lisa Kamsickas)

Considering these resolutions, it is clear that our goals can be very diverse. The scale of your resolution does not necessarily matter, what counts is that you understand why it is important to you. The big question, however, is how to achieve our resolutions without giving up as soon as we face the first hurdle. I am sure that we have all experienced the situation in which, come two months into the year, we have disregarded or even forgotten about what previously seemed to mean a lot to us. Given this, I have composed a list of tips to provide some guidance along the way.

1.‘Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection’ – Mark Twain

In considering what your resolution might be, instead of worrying about all the things that you should do that seem to have no relation to your past accomplishments, a positive spin on this could be to keep in mind what you already achieved in 2017, and how these achievements could be heightened through gradual improvement. Last year many of my goals centred around being more organised. Although my organisation improved, I can still be forgetful at times, and so this year, one of my small resolutions is to refer to my planner at the start of each day – an adjustment in my daily habits that connects to a wider aim.

2.’The dreamers need the realists to keep them from soaring too close to the sun. And the realists? Well, without the dreamers, they might never get off the ground’ – Modern Family

Now that you have an idea of an overall goal, hone it down into more specific, bitesize chunks. If your goal is something too broad, you run the risk of feeling overwhelmed by its enormity and could also be prone to giving up as you realise that you have no plan of action. It is great to dream and to challenge yourself, but in the case of resolutions a lack of realism and vagueness could easily throw you off track.

  1. ‘Fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ – Benjamin Franklin

Plan exactly when you hope to achieve each part of your resolution and how you can measure your progress. Even if you have not quite reached the overall goal, you will definitely feel motivated if you can see that you are getting closer. For the past few years I have completed an annual short charity run, and in 2018 I hope to complete a longer one. Running is not my favourite activity, and so I know that completing it will be a challenge, but I would like to push myself, and plan on measuring my progress through regular fitness activities that allow me to ensure I am on track. By doing so, I can enjoy the run instead of struggling through it!

  1. ‘Creativity is intelligence having fun’ – Albert Einstein

Write your resolutions down and put them somewhere visible in your flat. This does not have to be done in a boring written list format. Get creative! I enjoy art and design, and already have an A3 poster on my wall with black and white images of things that inspire me in relation to greater life goals. So, a wall collage in a similar style with images that represent my resolutions could be a good shout. Do whatever works for you so long as it acts as a reminder of what you are aiming to achieve, helping you not to lose sight of your goals when life gets busy.

5.‘We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand’ – Randy Pausch

Be inspired by other people. There is a wealth of information out there written, spoken, and vlogged about by people who have achieved incredible things. While your resolution may be unique, it can help to gain insights and tips from others. Often times it becomes clear that many successful figures have recurring attitudes and attributes that you can try to adopt in order to achieve your own goals in life. Last year, a memorable book for me was, The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, an individual who has been able to accomplish his goals and maintain a positive attitude despite receiving very tragic news. Inspirational figures can be found closer to home too: in family and friends, as well as through befriending people who have different interests to you or who are at another stage in their life. These individuals can offer different and new perspectives.

  1. ‘In every job that must be done there is an element of fun’ – Mary Poppins

If your New Year’s resolution involves a challenging task you are dreading, consider how you can tweak your mentality to make things a lot more enjoyable. If your aim is to exercise more, perhaps experiment with different sporting activities until you find something that no longer feels like a chore. If your resolution is to wake up earlier in the morning then why not set a song as your alarm instead of persevering with the unbearable automated one you currently use (Think Michael Jackson, House of Pain or Chuck Berry!)?

7. ‘What have you done today that makes you feel proud?’ – Heather Small

Finally, make sure that you celebrate your achievements and do something that will help you remember them. Leaving a memento will not only be nice to reflect on, it will also act as a reminder of your capabilities when it comes to fulfilling any future goals. If your resolution is more abstract, then why not keep a diary or pin up photos on your wall that reflect some great moments? One of my resolutions this year was to write an article for this paper, and I hope that having a copy will encourage me to continue writing in the future!

A ‘New Year’ does not have to signify “new me”, nor should we have to wait until January to take action. However, it can often act as a nice starting point, and can be a way of measuring our achievements from a specific date. It can also be an opportunity to reflect on the previous year, taking the time to ask ourselves what steps can be taken to improve aspects of our life or to build upon previous accomplishments. And most importantly, there are so many ways of making your resolutions both enjoyable and achievable.


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