Where were you as the clock counted down and the ball dropped to mark the beginning of not only a new year but a new decade? Were you sipping something bubbly? Lip-locked with a special someone? Or perhaps you were asleep at 10:00 p.m. and totally unaware of the festivities. Regardless of how you spent your first few moments of the New Year, everyone knows it’s not how you start the year, but how you finish it. Last year the top New Year’s resolutions made according to inc.com were to eat healthier, exercise more, lose weight, save more and spend less, learn a new skill or hobby, quit smoking, read more, find another job, drink less alcohol and spend more time with family and friends. All admirable goals, but the article also stated that approximately 60% of Americans make resolutions while only 8% are actually successful in maintaining them.
In this next decade, college-aged students have a high probability of graduating, marrying, and having their first child. However, as 18-22 year-olds, perhaps starting a career or a family is slightly daunting. Therein comes the first tip of determining a New Year’s resolution that will work for you: be realistic. Biting off more than you can chew is one of the main reasons individuals give up on their resolutions after only a few days. The following are a compilation of seven tips for setting and managing healthy goals for this new year.
- Be realistic: A person’s habits are not made or changed overnight; in fact, according to author and entrepreneur James Clear, it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days to form a habit. Therefore, it is not reasonable to assume you are going to be able to change all of your grades from C’s to A’s, join two new clubs and lose twenty pounds in the next semester. Instead, make smaller adjustments to healthy habits you already possess. If you worked out twice last semester, try working out three times, or if you earned less than perfect grades, maybe apply for a tutor to try and establish good study habits that will transfer to all of your classes.
- Write it down: Countless studies state the value of writing things down, usually for the purpose of memory. However, writing down resolutions is also valuable in that it makes them real, following the philosophy of speaking things into existence.
- Have a support system: Trying something new can be a challenge, but doing it with someone else to hold you accountable and encourage you can make it significantly more manageable. By having someone to push you when you want to quit and vice versa, you assume responsibility for each other. This transition makes maintaining goals seem more reasonable as you are now doing it for more than just yourself.
- Make the time: So often people start something new but cop-out on the excuse, “I don’t have time.” As college students, this is understandable. Between classes, jobs, volunteering, sports, staying in shape, and the ever-impending act of adulting for the first time ever, busy is an understatement. Therefore, you are much less likely to give up on your resolutions if you select a specific time slot daily, every two days or once a week to fulfill your goals.
- Track your progress: It’s hard to argue with results, especially if they are visual. Therefore, before you start on a resolution, take a picture of where you’re at. If your resolution is to run a 10k by the end of the school year, then track how much you run each day, so over time, you can see those numbers go up, and your times go down!
- Know your why: Change is healthiest and most worthwhile if you have a clear and concise “why?” For example, why do I want to go to the gym? So I can feel better and be stronger and look it too! Why do I want to improve my grades? To qualify for a prestigious scholarship to help pay for school so I can work less and spend more time with friends next year. Whatever your why, make sure you picked it for you and not for the benefit of someone else. Change means more when the desire to do so comes from your own desire.
- Cheat day: New Year’s resolutions are hard. Change is hard. Therefore, you have to know when to persevere and when to take a break from the mental and physical veracity of forming new habits and indulge just for a day, a meal or just an hour. It has been proven that the human brain responds more positively toward rewards rather than punishments. So by offering yourself a bit of reprieve, it allows your mind to associate the change with positive feelings.
Whatever your reasons for embarking on a new adventure or goal, New Year’s resolutions take work and repetition. Best of luck in hitting the weights or taking on a new club and try out some of these quick tips to help you persevere. Cheers to a New Year!