In the spirit of ringing in the new year from home, many people begin to plan their 2021in the same way: resolutions. Most people share their resolutions knowing that the “new and improved” version of them won’t even stick around throughout all of January – so why bother, right? Honestly, I laugh every time I see a photo captured at midnight captioned with the classic “New Year, new me!”. I don’t mean to tear anyone down or dismiss the validity of a strategy that works for someone else, but setting resolutions strictly for the start of a new year does not work for me.
I think my beef with the idea of resolutions, and my take on why they don’t last, stands in their ambition… it’s too much. Let’s look at diets for example. After the holidays, many people feel that eating cleaner will help them feel better in the new year. That’s great! The problem comes in when someone decides that on January 1st they will cut out carbs and sugars completely. You don’t need a nutritionist to understand how that sudden, radical change will shock their body and their routine; Therefore, they aren’t likely to stick with it. However, a more gradual change will probably be healthier and more sustainable for them.
This isn’t to say that I don’t set goals each year, because I definitely do. I simply work on a few things as I notice them, instead of making too big of a change each time the ball drops in Times Square. When deciding what I will focus on I set a few requirements: it must currently be in my total control, there must be a possibility for self growth, and I must be able to devise a plan to reach the goal. Recently, I have focused my goals on replacing unproductive or unhealthy habits with things that make me feel better about how I spend my time.
IMPROVEMENT AREA #1: READING
I have started to associate reading for pleasure to be a luxury that only exists on breaks from school. So far on winter break, I have finished two books and I just started another one. Reading calms me down and I definitely need to find time for it during the school year.
CONTROL?: Yes, I have total control. I make my own schedule based on my time. Although my free time is limited, I can make time to read.
SELF GROWTH?: Of course. Learning about others through reading is one of the best ways for me to grow personally.
PLAN: As soon as I wake up, during my lunch hour, and before I go to sleep, I spend about half an hour on my phone. Now, I will try to replace half of the combined time I spend on my phone with a book. This will allow me to stimulate my brain before school and relax me before bed, while also giving me a break from the excessive screen time of online school. I think this is a nice middle ground, because I am not eliminating my phone from my routines completely, but I will reduce the overall time and enjoy something else.
IMPROVEMENT AREA #2: PRIORITIZING
Over the past few years of school, I have gotten better at prioritizing my academic to-do list. I’ve learned that working on what needs to be done is best, even if it isn’t what I want to do. No matter how curious I am about the play in English or the case study from molecular biology, I need to finish my physics homework first. When my other responsibilities come into play, however, I find it more difficult to prioritize. Well, more specifically, I find it difficult to say “no” so I get involved in too much. I often find myself saying “Yeah, I can totally fit that in!” and “Oh, no problem! I’m not busy!” when I actually do not have time. Don’t get me wrong, I thrive on having work to complete, but I still get overwhelmed.
CONTROL?: Yes, I am in control of what I agree to take part in. I know when I should say “no” so I don’t get overwhelmed.
SELF GROWTH?: Deciding not to take part in one thing gives me an opportunity to devote more time to something else. This will allow me to focus on the projects that mean the most to me.
PLAN: Instead of always saying “yes” to avoid an awkward situation, I will work towards being comfortable turning things down when they are not right for me. If possible, I will work out an alternative plan so I can still help out. However, I will make sure to prioritize the commitments I have previously made.
IMPROVEMENT AREA #3: RELAXING
As I mentioned, I like to stay busy because I get bored very easily. School created another unhealthy habit that I need to work on. I need to stop avoiding relaxation. Sometimes, I view relaxation as a reward that is only unlocked after all of my work is complete. I understand that taking breaks to relax or have a snack would likely maximize my overall productivity, but I haven’t worked on changing my habit until now.
CONTROL?: Yes, I have total control over how I schedule my free time. I know that I have time to work in a few breaks.
SELF GROWTH?: Working hard is great for self improvement, but my body and mind also need time to rest.
PLAN: I will take at least 15 minutes each day to relax. This may be used in 5 minute intervals throughout the day, but I will reach the 15 minute minimum somehow. Maybe I will sit in the dark and focus on my breathing or stand up and stretch, but the 15 minutes will be technology free. Scheduling my breaks and relaxation into my day will prevent me from feeling guilty about the pause in my productivity, because I am sticking to my schedule.
Remember to set realistic goals with boundaries for the new year. Your goals should be specific, planned, and for your own benefit. Wishing everyone the happiest of holidays and a smooth transition back to school!
Hello! My name is Aubrey Best and I am an 18 year old from South Carolina. I am fortunate to have a method of sharing lessons and experiences through Girlspring, while connecting with others. I am happy to have any role, no matter how small, in empowering others to learn and love!