New Year, New me. Attempt #:___

It is January 1st, 2015 and, this year, things are going to change.

New Year, New Me_image via Carol vanHook on Flickr

This year, I will study daily, do my assignments weeks before they are due, exercise regularly, eat healthy (aka stop ordering Chef on Call), become a social butterfly, start practising piano, keep a dream journal, and sleep eight hours every day.

Soon it will be January 31st, and not a lot will have changed. I probably won’t have studied. I will be: scrambling to finish an assignment due the next day, probably pulling an all nighter, and getting Chef on Call for dinner. The dinner plans I had with all my friends: cancelled. My gym shorts: gathering dust. In my panic, I might reflect back on my initial resolutions, and ask myself what happened. I had such good intentions! But alas, habits and lifestyle are not products of good intentions.

New Year’s resolutions tend to have high failure rates. By February, most people have forgotten or given up on their idea(s) and this can be caused by various reasons. For example, some people tend to believe they can change a lot more than they really can, setting unrealistic goals for themselves. This isn’t to say you can’t change the way you are, but it is very unlikely you’ll be able to change the majority of your habits overnight. If your list of New Year’s resolutions is a page long, it’s going to require a lot of discipline to achieve. After a few days of forcing yourself to do a new routine, you’ll be worn out and begin to slip back to the “easier” habit you’re used to – especially if you thought everything would be different in this New Year, and now results aren’t appearing in the first week. With no reward, it’s difficult to continue straining to adjust your lifestyle.

So what can you do to achieve your goal

The first step is to pick a reasonable goal. If you take on six courses and a part time job this semester but also tell yourself you’ll go to the gym every day, it’s probably just not going to happen. But if you take six courses, have a job and say, “I will go to the gym two to three times a week,” then that’s slightly more manageable. Take it easy on yourself; you’re only human, after all.

The next step is to organize how you will carry out your goals. Sticking with the gym idea: if you know your schedule, take some time and write in when you’ll have time to go. You are more likely to do something if you’ve physically planned out when to carry it out. And if you can convince a friend to go with you, that’s even better – people are less likely to quit if they think someone else is counting on them.

Now that you have your goal in mind and you’ve set up how you’re going to carry it out, you just have to do it, right? That may be harder than you think. Unfortunately, the top ten motivational tricks on Buzzfeed, while a nice distraction, probably won’t help you achieve your goal. It takes between twenty and thirty days to change a habit, so the next three to four weeks are what wi

It will make or break your New Year’s resolution. This is the time when that buddy will come in handy; someone to help motivate you.

Next, set mini goals for yourself. If you have a tangible goal, then you know what you’re working towards. If you’re trying to lose weight, decide how much you want to lose per week. It’s much more effective to choose to lose half a pound a week than to say that you’d like to “lose weight.” At the same time, don’t beat yourself up. There will be times when you can’t keep up with your goal; don’t give up on it.

It’s going to be difficult, but you can do it. Habits are formed through hard work and sticking to a new routine. There is no quick fix or easy change to a lifestyle you’ve been building for years. If you want things to be different, then you are going to have to accept a challenge. But, once the semester has passed and you’re enjoying your physique, new skill or pleasant sleep schedule, you can look back at January as a terrible, yet rewarding, month and smile.

New Year, New Me_image via Amir Kbah