Realistic Resolutions?

It’s officially 2014! What a journey 2013 has been.

At the start of 2013, I put on a program for residents called something along the lines of “How to Make (and keep) New Year’s Resolutions.” I had tips and tricks on something I myself had never actually done. Somehow, I still felt justified by my position as a resident assistant to provide suggestions for how to make sure resolutions were followed. I gave out a sheet that had a column for 20 things to do during 2013 and another column for 13 things not to do during 2013. At the time, I looked at this as a really unique way to plan for the upcoming year. Everyone filled their sheet out and took it, maybe to put it up in their room as a constant reminder, maybe to shove in a drawer never to be seen again. Either way, I felt like I helped people think about how they wanted the year to go.

Sitting here a year later, I see things so much differently. Although this list may have been a great idea, it wasn’t THE idea. The way I see it now, it isn’t so much about setting goals for yourself to work out more often or to study “x” amount of hours per week; instead, thinking about the new year requires thinking about how you plan to remember it. We learn from failures, successes, experiences, losses, etc., not from trying to force ourselves to act a certain way or avoid desserts. This learning comes from remembering days gone by and previous choices made.

With this in mind, I recommend considering this technique. I’m not saying that we should all stop setting goals for ourselves in regard to health or fitness or social lives. What I mean is that we need to focus more on the time at hand and how to make the most out of it by an understanding of the past. Get a memory jar- have small slips of paper on hand in your room near your bed. At the end of a particularly interesting day (or every day) write something about the day that will help you recall it and place this in the jar. Don’t let yourself open the jar until the very end of 2014, or even 2015. This is a great way to look back on the entirety of the year. Include everything- not just happy times or successful moments.

If the memory jar isn’t for you, sit down by yourself or with a close friend/family member in front of a camera and talk freely about the year. Store the video for a year and pull it back out at the end of the year and for years to come.

Ideas like these give you a fun an sentimental way to look back on the year as well as to help you to welcome in the new year. Having these things to look back at will remind you of things in life that you may have forgotten. What I’m trying to say is that you don’t always need to make actual resolutions to prepare yourself for success during the upcoming year.

So no, I am not trying to steer you away from the traditional resolution. I think it is great to enter the calendar year with a goal in mind and your heart set on success. At the same time, I strongly advocate remembering the previous year in one way or another to make sure that you don’t let the years pass you by too quickly…whether or not this is possible, I still haven’t determined. I’ll get back to you on that one…

Next week we’ll take a look back at my 2013. Until then…

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