The New Year has just rolled in. Full of promise, 2015 is said to actually be the year of change. Resolutions have been set, whether thoughtfully planned out or drunkenly thrown together at 11:53 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. We strive to start out the New Year with goals that will make us better people, healthier people and happier people. But come a month later, do they even stick? What kinds of resolutions have been made, and what kind of success can be foretold by the nature of the resolution? If it is vague, say, “be a happier person,” is it more likely to fail? If it is specific, say, “eat a salad for dinner three times a week,” is it more likely to succeed?

I believe we make resolutions because we appreciate a fresh start, a way to say that what we have done in the past is just that: in the past. Jan. 1 is a way to have the past year forgive us and the New Year give us a chance. We want to show that we have the ability to make these promises and keep them; that we can commit and succeed at these personal tasks. Do we feel guilty if we start to falter in our resolutions by February? What about July?

I began with myself, for how will I best understand others’ resolutions if I cannot identify some for my own well-being? My goals: lose 15 pounds, keep my desk clean, shrug off the little stuff. Three supposedly simple goals, but I will see how the next few months pan out. I have learned through many failed resolutions that I need more tangible and simple goals. A list of three is much easier for me to manage with a busy lifestyle. Having an extensive reason also helps to solidify the resolutions, making them more pertinent to your life, a better reason of “why I need this,” rather than “just because.” Losing weight is specifically geared to certain jobs for which I am applying, the desk is so I have a clean workspace and will be encouraged to avoid procrastination, and shrugging off the little stuff is to keep my mind focused on the important aspects of my life. By having reasons, we are able to continue with our resolutions because they have meaning in our lives, whether they are a goal down the road or a day-to-day task.

Sometimes we need help, and we should not be afraid to seek it. At the beginning of the New Year, we look for ways to best complete our goals with helpful hints from BuzzFeed articles, using our friends to encourage each other, looking at others’ habits and setting reminders on phones and computers. I know this works for me: my roommate’s desk is spotless and I would like it to look like hers. My friend and I will drag each other to the gym and do workouts together. It is much more successful when you are able to combine resolutions, providing a lower chance of failure when two bodies are pushing for the same goal. But many of our mental resolutions are personal, where we need to think to ourselves about how we manage situations and how we can change our mentalities.

According to Stephen Covey, author of the book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” it takes 30 days for a habit to become solidified, whether it be forming a new one or breaking an old one. If we go by what Covey says, then the month of January is the most crucial. We need to be more active in remembering our resolutions so that they will, hopefully, become part of our routine: forming good habits, breaking bad habits and keeping the resolutions that we said we would. And just think, maybe keeping your resolutions can be a resolution. Good luck!

Sara Shamaskin can be reached at scsham@umich.edu.

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