Now that most all Early Decision and Early Action verdicts have been rendered, I thought I would look ahead to 2019. Yes, I know that there are still many more decisions forthcoming in several months for the Regular Decision and Rolling Decision applicants. Naturally, those as yet unresolved situations are hanging over seniors' heads.
But what about the new year? Do you treat Jan. 1 as a new start, a fresh beginning? Or, do you view it as just another day in the endless procession of the days of your life? Pause a minute and decide how you think about the new year.
This brings me to the topic of resolutions. Do you make them? Do you believe in them? There are varying views on resolutions, especially those made on New Year's Day -- the official kind. I'm kind of on the fence about resolutions. I view them as helpful when successful, but as a possible psychological downer when they fail.
I've been down the resolution road before, many times. There was usually a physical component involved: I needed to lose weight; I needed to get back in shape; I needed to prepare for a spring marathon; the state tennis championships were in April and I hoped to be there, etc., etc. So I would dutifully begin my resolution campaigns at the crack of Jan. 1, while the smell of sauerkraut wafted through the house, and I would think repeatedly, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step."
Sometimes I would accomplish my goal; sometimes I would give up; sometimes I would continue and ultimately fail. Accomplishing a resolved goal is exhilarating. That's the bright side of the resolution coin. Proving that you have the determination to stick with it and win inspires future efforts in hope of additional victories.
Failing, dropping out or stopping short can be discouraging, if not downright depressing. It can also lead to a casual, “I don't really care" attitude that can grow into much larger issues. These negatives comprise the dark side of resolutions, blossoming into an irrational fear of setting goals, in general, which is no way to go through life.
I would like to tie the issue of resolutions to students in high school and college, because with so much life ahead of them, I think that it's important to judge one's ability to assess, critique and plan for course corrections, where needed. That's really what resolutions are all about -- making appropriate changes or charting new directions. The ability to adapt is key to living a happy and successful life.
So it's past mid-December now and the New Year looms on the near horizon. Christmas is a week away. Soon, college students will be returning to campus after a (hopefully) enjoyable holiday break, ready to undertake what seems like the longest stretch of the academic year, from January to May.
High school students are in a similar situation, but their environment is different -- perhaps more comforting -- because they're living at home and not on their own.
I have no scientific evidence to support this, but my theory is that high school students are more likely to give serious consideration to making New Year's resolutions than college students are. Living away from home can provide too many distractions for collegians to be bothered with resolving to change things about their personal lives.
So what kinds of resolutions am I talking about? They're not about losing weight, getting back into shape, saving money, etc., although those are perfectly reasonable goals. The ones I'm suggesting involve actions that can make you a better student and provide you with an improved educational experience.
In doing some research about meaningful, education-related resolutions, I came across some interesting information from this site, which is devoted to helping students improve their global educational environments. I thought that I would share some highlights from some of these. Here goes … resolved:
– Get (a specific number) of hours of sleep a night. Be specific about your goals for the new year — for example, “get at least six hours of sleep a night" instead of “getting more sleep." While college life is hard and you're often sleep deprived, making sure you get enough sleep each night is critical for your long-term success (and health!) in school.
– Get (a specific amount of) exercise each week. While finding time to exercise in college — even for 30 minutes — can seem impossible for many students, it's important to try to incorporate physical activity into your college life routine … Make sure your goal is specific, however; instead of “go to the gym," make a resolution to “work out for 30 minutes at least four times a week," “join an intramural sports team" or “work out four times a week with a workout partner."
– Eat healthier at each meal. College life is notorious for its unhealthy food options: greasy dining hall food, bad delivery, ramen noodles and pizza everywhere. Make a goal to add at least something healthy at each meal, like at least one serving of fruits or vegetables … No matter what you add or switch, making little changes every time you eat can lead to big differences.
– Try something new or step out of your comfort zone at least once a month. Chances are, there are things happening on your campus 24/7. And many of them are on topics or involve activities that you're not at all familiar with. Challenge yourself to try something totally new at least once a month. Attend a lecture on a topic you know nothing or very little about; go to a cultural event you've never heard of before; volunteer to help with a cause you know you should learn more about but just never looked into …
– Don't use a credit card for things you want — only use it for things you need. The last thing you want in college is to be saddled with credit card debt and the accompanying monthly payments you're required to make … (For example, you need books for your classes. But you don't necessarily need — although you might want — those expensive new sneakers when the ones you have can last another few months.)
– Finish your papers at least one day in advance. This may sound completely unrealistic and idealistic, but if you look back at your time in school, when have you been the most stressed? Some of the highest-stress parts of the semester come when major papers and projects are due … So why not plan instead to finish a little early so you can get some sleep, not be as stressed and — most likely — turn in a better assignment?
– Volunteer at least once a week. It's super easy to get caught up in the little bubble that is your school. Stress over papers, the lack of sleep and frustration with everything from friends to finances can quickly consume both your mind and spirit. Volunteering, on the other hand, offers you a chance to give back while also helping you keep things in perspective …
– Spend time with people outside of your college [or high school] friends. Granted, this may need to be done electronically, but it's important. Spend time Skyping with your best friend from high school; let yourself chat online with people who aren't at your school … While your college [or high school] life may be all-consuming now, it will be over before you know it … and the relationships you've kept with the non-college [non-high school] people in your life will be important once you're officially a graduate.
There you have eight great resolutions to shape the foundation of a possible new you. Just to be cautious and keep you on track, let's take a look at five of one group's opinion about the 10 worst New Year's resolutions:
1. Go on a Diet. Vowing to go on a diet in the new year is one of the most common resolutions, so it's no wonder many people fail.
2. Join a Gym.… 51 percent of New Year's resolutions made in Britain are to improve health and fitness and you don't have to fork out for an expensive gym membership or face dragging yourself out of the home to achieve this.
3. Catch Up on Television. However, that comfy couch is a slippery slope and it's probably better you switch the television off at least eight hours before that important [class] on Monday.
6. Get Organized. You are most likely to fail at getting things in order if the task is too great, so write lists of everything you want to organize and then break those down further into smaller goals.
7. Be Happy. Setting yourself the goal of being happy for a whole year is a daunting, if not impossible task. Instead, challenge yourself to think more positively.
Check out the other five to make sure that you don't make a bad resolution.
Resolutions are fine, but don't expect a complete makeover. Even if you can't become a “new" you in 2019, be satisfied with a better you!
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