by: Ansley Moore
There is only one day in the whole Gregorian calendar system where all of its adherents (aka everyone on the planet except for the residents of give or take three countries) celebrates so massively the change of one day to the next- New Year's. Most people will celebrate with parties, staying up until midnight, and making New Year's Resolutions. This year in particular, the concept of New Year's Resolutions has been quit fascinating to me. Gearing up for my last semester of high school I'd like to think that my previous 25 semesters at FRA have taught me valuable skills as a student and as a human, but looking back there are definitely still changes I can make in order to be less of a "garbage human" as the kids say. That's why over the break I have been scouring the internet looking for advice from other people on how they achieve goals and have combined them with some of my own ideas so that (hopefully) we can both go into the New Year with the best chance possible at letting 2018 be the year that we actually accomplish our resolutions!
1. Plan Early, Start Late
There are still 6 more days left in 2017, so use that time to prepare your resolutions and start planning for the changes that you want to make. If you want to start eating healthier, use this time to look up recipes and ingredients. If you want to spend more time with friends, look up any fun events coming up that you can put on your calendar to bring your friends to. The clearer your ideas, the easier it will be to actually know what you want to change going into January 1st.
Also, in case you weren't aware January 1st is on a Monday this year and I know that I will have been up very late the night before or many of you might be out of town or with family, which means that the chances of doing anything productive on New Year's Day might be very slim for you. If that's the case, maybe start on January 2nd, or the 3rd, or whenever you think the day is that will best set you up for success. Similarly, if it's June and you feel like you've hit a block don't feel like you have to keep doing something that isn't working. Change your approach and modify from what hasn't been working and start again. The important thing is the resolutions and the changes you're making, not to start on January 1st.
2. Say It Out Loud
I won't bore you with the nitty-gritty science, but essentially when we say phrases like "I can't do this" out loud it strengthens chemical pathways in our brain that make those negative thoughts a habit, which in turn makes it easier for us to talk down to ourselves because even if that negativity isn't true we're more likely to think that way because it's a habit (NPR). So not only would I encourage you to say your goals out loud, but the more times you find to say "I can do this" in your daily routine, do it! Start with simple things that you're already doing like "I can get to first period on time" or "I can drink this whole coffee" in order to strengthen the positive pathways and then keep building up to the bigger goals.
3. Set Measurable Goals
It's easy to say you want to "Get healthier" in 2018, but what does that actually look like? If you were to instead phrase that goal as "Go to yoga three times a week" or "Eliminate processed sugar" you're still "Getting healthier", but now you have steps in place to keep yourself on track. Another way to set measurable goals is to do them as short, medium, and long term goals. This works particularly well for goals like "I want to pass [insert any class here]". In the short term you could decided on a specific amount of times you want to visit the teacher during tutorial per week or dedicate 30 minutes on a Saturday to reviewing all of the material you learned in class that week. Those are good short term goals because they're measured on a weekly basis so you can tell quickly if they're working or not and gauge how to to adapt if a goal isn't improving your performance. A good medium term goal might be to get a B on every test this semester because like before it's very measurable, but it's using knowledge from the short term on a slightly bigger scale. Both of those goals will hopefully come together to help you accomplish the original long term goal of passing that class.
4. Pick Goals For YOU
There's no point in doing something that you don't want just because all of your friends are doing it or because you feel like it "should" be your goal. Find what you're passionate about changing and make your goal around that. It's far easier to stay motivated when you actually want to do the thing you've set out to do so don't set yourself up for failure by picking goals that you aren't willing to work for.
5. Accountability Is Key
Find a partner, tell your dog, post it on Instagram- just to something to let other people know what your resolutions are. You can use these other people to keep you accountable for following through on your goals. Finding a partner with similar goals would be ideal in my opinion because doing something with your friends always makes it more fun and friends are also much more likely to call you out for slipping up on your resolutions.
And now I'm going to leave you by taking some of my own advice and make myself accountable by sharing three of my New Year's Resolutions with you:
1. Eliminate Plastic Straws
Inspired by this Buzzfeed video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oiHDwU-g8T4 I plan on boycotting plastic, single use straws in 2018. Straws are so harmful to our underwater friends and I'm going to do my part to cut down on the amount that get put into landfill or into marine habitats. To help me do this I have ordered reusable, glass straws to take with me in public in the event that I need a straw for something. (WARNING- The first :18 seconds shows the affect of plastic straws on marine life and while it helps to fully understand the impact our trash has on the environment, if you're particularly sensitive to seeing animals in pain maybe close your eyes for that part.)
2. Make Sleep A Priority
Like most of you, I don't get enough sleep. My normal routine is go to sleep at around midnight and wake at 6:00 the next morning for school then "catch-up" over the weekends by sleeping as late as I possibly can. This usually results in me feeling exhausted all week then unproductive all weekend because I sleep half the day away and I'm hoping that by more evenly spreading my sleep I can stabilize my mood throughout the week and cut down on days where my sleepiness makes me really irritable. To do this I have created general schedules for an afternoon routine for three different times of the year- when I have nothing after school (which means I'm home around 3:15-3:30), when I'm in rehearsal (which means I'm home around 7:30-8:00), or when it's tech week (which means I'm home around 10:30-11:00). For you this might revolve around sports schedules, academic commitments, a job, but this is what my year will look like. Then for each day I have given myself a set amount of time for homework, eating, socializing, and getting ready for bed which the knowledge that when I get home earlier I have more time to socialize and when I get home during tech week I basically get to finish my homework and go right to bed. Generally my goal for during the week is to be in bed asleep by 10:30-11:00 and up by 6:00, but on the weekends I'll let myself wake up around 8:00 and stay up until 12:00-12:30.
3. Learn How To "Adult"
This will be a process that takes several years, but this year I'm starting with understanding my finances. I'm completely clueless when it comes to money. I have no idea how taxes work, how to make a budget, what is an acceptable amount to spend on rent- any of it- and since I'll be living alone in a new city in approximately 9 months I want to learn all that I can before I'm on my own. To do this, I've bought a notebook that I'm calling "Ansley's Book of Adulting" where I plan on compiling all of the knowledge I can find on how to live successfully on my own, starting- of course- with finances. I think the internet and my bank will be my two most helpful resources for this. I want to find several mock budgets and adapt them to fit my needs and I'm sure somewhere out there is a Khan Academy: Taxes for Dummies or something similar- I just have to find it. I also plan on calling my bank to ask if I can meet with someone to talk through good habits I can start as a teenager and how banks work in terms of things like giving loans and mortgages.
Hopefully these have given you some insight into how I have used the advice I found to make my own resolutions and will come in handy as you prepare for 2018. Best of luck in the new year!
Starecheski, Laura. “Why Saying Is Believing - The Science Of Self-Talk.” NPR, NPR, 7 Oct. 2014, www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2014/10/07/353292408/why-saying-is-believing-the-science-of-self-talk.