(Graphic by Autumn Mariano)
(Graphic by Autumn Mariano)

Wildcats, welcome back! It’s a new semester, a new year and new opportunities are around every corner. 

I love the beginning of the year. It seems like anything and everything is possible. The months ahead are a blank slate just waiting to be filled with adventures and accomplishments. It is during this optimistic time that I like to make a few good, old-fashioned New Year’s resolutions. 

I’ve been making New Year’s resolutions for as long as I can remember; I’ve always enjoyed accomplishment-based lists. Over the years I’ve come to understand some basic limitations to the New Year’s resolution, and this understanding has helped me make and keep my own goals. 

To start off, your goals should be S.M.A.R.T. That is, they should be specific, measurable, assignable, realistic and timely. In my own experience, my resolutions haven’t always been realistic. I tend to want to accomplish more than there is time in the year to do. I also tend to forget exactly who I’m creating the resolution for. 

Take the classic exercise resolution. In years past, it has been my goal to run a half marathon by the end of the year. For lots of people, this is a realistic exercise goal for an entire year. It’s not realistic for me. Why? I don’t like to run. I don’t like to exercise. And thinking about the reality of a marathon, half or otherwise, makes me want to burrow deeper into my blankets and hit the snooze button. 

In making that resolution, I failed to recognize that even though the goal is technically realistic, it’s not something I actually want to accomplish. This year, my resolution is to spend two hours a week exercising. It’s simple, it’s attainable and though I don’t actually like exercising, I can devote two hours a week to improving my personal health. 

New Year’s resolutions are not a series of goals to turn you into a fundamentally different person. Those obviously don’t work. Rather, these resolutions are tools that can help you achieve a measurable goal relating to something you already enjoy or care about. 

I love food. It’s basically my favorite thing in the entire world, and I’ve always wanted to become really savvy in the kitchen. This year, one of my other New Year’s resolutions is to try two new recipes per month. This is a totally doable goal that won’t burn me out now that the semester has started again. Instead of giving me a chore, this resolution is reminding me that I made a goal to take a little time each month to improve at something I already enjoy. 

Wildcats, good luck with the semester ahead. And for those making New Year’s resolutions, don’t forget to make some goals that reflect who you truly are and what you really enjoy. 

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