Yes, it’s that time of the year again. If you’ve made a New Years resolution this month, you are engaging in an age-old custom. According to a study by Virgin Mobile Canada, a whopping 51 per cent of Canadians make resolutions — 19 per cent of which fail within the first 24 hours of the New Year. This year, the Tribune has come up with two different approaches to a hopefully different 2013.
Keep it classic
Set a goal: Step one may sound idiot-proof, but it can be harder than it looks. Setting a goal is the easiest thing in the world to do, but making a plan and—here’s the kicker—trying to actually stick to it, is deceptively tricky. Yes, many of us would like to be able to run a marathon after only two weeks of training, but setting reasonable, reachable goals is the best way to actually succeed. Setting smaller milestones, under a reasonable timeframe, allows you to better track your progress and schedule rewards (sweet, savory, or otherwise). Flip on your motivational switch and internalize why you want to achieve your goal. Write it down, memorize it, chant it, post it beside your bed—do not let the idea leave you.
Grab a buddy: The problem with setting personal goals is that you are more likely to cheat yourself. If you use the buddy system, and advertise your goals to your family, friends, and roommates, you are more likely to be encouraged, or policed, into keeping at it. Tip: advertise your goals and your progress in a clearly visible place. This is a great conversation starter and a good way to boost your motivation every time someone asks you about your resolutions.
Work out at home: The vague goal of “getting fit” can leave you not knowing where to start. Instead of buying a gym membership and meaning to show up every day, try to incorporate small things into your day to increase your physical activity. Establish a home-workout routine, including skipping rope, yoga, and weight-bearing exercises (push-ups, sit-ups, planking, squats). If you need inspiration, search for ‘at-home workouts’ on YouTube to get programs and music you can follow along to, for free! Cardio is key, but do not forget those weight-bearing exercises. Building extra muscle improves metabolism, and increases the number of calories that you burn when working out.
One step at a time: In order to become conscious of your daily activity, you may also want to invest in a pedometer. You can chart your daily steps, and strive to increase your activity by walking to class or work, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
Treat your body well: For those who have resolved to diet, don’t focus on skipping meals, but on eating properly and proportionally. You do not want to be ravenously hungry, nor do you want to indulge. Spread your caloric intake out over the day, and strive to have at least three different colours of fruits and vegetables for a nutritional boost. Another healthy suggestion is to increase your water intake. Simple, and effective, water is indisputably good for you, your skin, your metabolism, and your mind.
Focus on friends: Another healthy resolution to make this year is to improve your social bonds. Take the time, and make the effort to reconnect with those old friends you may have been losing touch with. You can also expand your circles by joining a new club, or volunteering in the community.
Smile: Finally, strive to smile and be happy! People with positive emotions live longer, happier, and fuller lives. Resolve to look at yourself in the mirror every morning before you have breakfast, and simply smile. Try adopting a mantra, or short saying like “I am a happy person” or “My life is full of happiness” to internalize positive emotions.
— Susan Westfall
You need new goals
Year in and year out, popular New Years resolutions relate to fitness, money, and other lifestyle overhauls: lose weight, stop smoking, get a better job, learn to budget money, and get organized.
Instead, set more meaningful objectives this year. If you really want to make a change, then be honest with yourself, and make better resolutions.
Instead of: “Get better grades.”
Try: “Getting off of Facebook in class.” No, it’s not just for a minute, or to check one notification. If you want to do well, you need to be present and engaged in lecture. What else are you sitting there for?
Instead of: “Don’t stress.”
Try: “Managing stress by giving your brain some down-time.” Avoid TV show marathons, and clicking through Reddit or Twitter for hours. Use the time you spend away from glowing screens to let your mind wander. Daydreaming can help you to actually process feelings and information, which is crucial in keeping your head clear.
Instead of: “Find the perfect job.”
Try: “Prioritizing.” Choose a couple of issues you care about and think about how you can get involved. Let those priorities shape your plans after McGill, rather than the other way around.
Instead of: “Get ‘involved.’”
Try: “Helping others.” Sign up for a volunteering organization. It may be new and awkward at the beginning, and you may not know what you’re doing, but throw yourself into the new task. Once you’ve gained your bearings, you’ll be surprised by how much you learn, and wonder why you never got involved in the first place.
Instead of: “Look better/lose weight/get ‘fit’”
Try: “Cutting the extras out.” Stop getting advice in bullet point form. Don’t expect the advice from ‘top ten’ lists to change your life! We’re good, but we’re not that good. Use this semester to think about what’s important to you, and don’t worry about the rest.
— Elisa Muyl