Starting the new year at VIU with good intentions

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New Year’s Resolutions Students Make

Author: Annette Lucas

Starting the year off with good intentions

We all have dreams of self-improvement – wanting to be a better person, be more active, be healthier or do something on our bucket list. We start thinking about those good intentions when we toss the old calendar into the recycling bin and start a new year. 

In the spirit of the ancient tradition of New Year’s resolutions, I headed out on campus at Vancouver Island University and asked students to pick one resolution from a list of common New Year’s resolutions students make. The top five were: making healthier choices, getting more sleep, finishing assignments at least one day before they are due, studying harder and perfect attendance. 

Along with all the stresses students already face, sticking with a New Year’s resolution can be a form of mental torture. The experts might agree with me. According to the U.S. News & World Global Report, 80 per cent of people who have made a New Year’s resolution will have abandoned them by February. 

New Year’s resolutions students make can be successfully achieved if you can identify your barrier point and create a strategy to help you move past it. 

Step 1: Identify what it is you want to do differently and why. 

If you could pick any one self-improvement goal to achieve this year, what would it be? Now you’ve found your focus. 

Step 2: Create a plan to achieve your goal and put your plan into action.

Examples based on some of the above goals:

  • Write down when, where, what day and what time you will exercise whether it is for 20 minutes, or for 10 minutes three times a day throughout the week.
  • Get a paper day timer and as soon as you receive an assignment write down the deadline and then prioritize and schedule your study time starting with the hardest and most urgent tasks.
  • Create a regular routine for your bedtime. Schedule one hour of your day outside in natural, bright daylight to help set your circadian rhythm so you are sleepy at night. Don’t drink caffeinated drinks after 3 pm. Stop watching TV or using your smartphone one hour before you hit the pillow to reduce the effects of the blue light emitted from your electronic devices. Go to sleep at the same time every night. 

Step 3: After the first week, analyze how well you did.

Be honest with yourself and review your plan. Check off what you accomplished and what you didn’t. Take stock of what worked and what didn’t and make adjustments. Give yourself some wiggle room and see how the next week goes. Celebrate your successes no matter how small - it reinforces your changed or good behaviour. 

After a few weeks, your plan will become more like a routine and it won’t feel like an arduous task. The goal is to make the New Year’s resolution into an action you get the urge to do every day automatically, without giving it another thought. Don’t you feel better already?

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