New Year’s Revolution: Making Resolutions You’ll Actually Keep

New Year, New You—or so our society makes us think. Every time January 1st rolls around, the fitness magazines, TV segments on organization and budgeting, diet commercials, and dramatic social media posts of people one-upping each other’s resolutions also roll around. The entire point of a resolution is to improve yourself, and/or improve your quality of life—it’s not supposed to be the Olympic Games of Spiteful Self-Betterment! By now, you might have already picked a resolution or two—but read on, friends! There’s no shame in having a more conventional resolution, but if you’re someone that doesn’t really appeal to, or work for, maybe the following can help you. After all, it’s what made the difference for me.
A few years ago, I changed the way I made resolutions. I thought long and hard about what I thought I needed, and what I thought would make me happy: not just what I felt others expected me to do. That year, my resolution was to keep a gratitude journal—something I still do today. It absolutely improved my life; it helped me to appreciate my everyday life, and gave me a more positive perspective (I highly recommend it as a practice—but that’s a different article!). The point is, if you really think them through, your resolutions won’t feel like a chore at all. Instead, they’ll be something you’ve accomplished proudly, or something that improved your happiness (and maybe even the happiness of others).
So, that’s all fine and good, but how do you go about picking a resolution that will really improve your life? It’s easier than you think. Here are some different approaches:
1.   Think about your long-term goals—perhaps something academic, or career-oriented. Do you want to work with kids? See if you could volunteer at a rec center, and help out with classes or a children’s program of some kind. Maybe you’re interested in marine biology—contact your local aquarium, or a university with a strong science program, and see if perhaps they are accepting interns! A few friends of mine in high school put themselves out there, and got accepted into positions at the National Aquarium and Johns Hopkins University. As cliché as it sounds, you never know until you ask. You never know where valuable career experience will come from (not to mention résumé builders!), so be open to opportunities. It will help you in the long run, and if it’s something you’re truly interested in, it will be fun, too.
Similarly, don’t be afraid to ask your teachers and mentors for help. Personally, because I shared with one of my former art teachers my goals to work in arts administration, she was able to provide me with valuable experience in what could become my dream career. Again, you never know until you ask!

2.   Think about your goals with regard to your talents, and/or hobbies: do you love music? Is there an instrument you’ve always wanted to learn to play? Consider finding a tutor, or a professional in your area for whom you could become an apprentice. Alternatively, perhaps you’re already proficient at playing a certain instrument, using a certain computer program, etc. Consider becoming a tutor, yourself: you may even be able to make some money, based on your talent/hobby. Last year, my resolution fell into this category: I decided to create a brand identity for myself, and start an Etsy business from my hobby—making patches and stickers, among other accessories like jewelry and flower/pom pom crowns. Now I’ve been running my business for close to 9 months, and it’s extremely fun, not too difficult, and let’s be honest—it’s really fulfilling to make money selling my work! So, consider that—in my view, even if I didn’t have a business, I would still be DIY-ing to my heart’s content. So, why not try something new, and earn some extra money from something that is fun for me, anyway?

3.   Finally, think about your personal, bucket-list type goals. Okay, so maybe riding an elephant in Thailand isn’t doable for 2017—but try not to underestimate yourself. Maybe there’s a skill or craft you’ve always wanted to learn—embroidery, fencing, knitting, hot yoga—sign up to take a class in something you’re interested in! Sports or art stores, libraries, rec centers, arts collectives, and theaters often hold classes throughout the year, usually for free, or at least for a low cost—all it would take is a bit of research. Maybe you love hiking, rock climbing, or biking. Find a new trail to challenge yourself with, or better yet, spend time visiting nearby National Parks for an extra challenge. Perhaps you love taking photographs. You could pick a subject matter you like, and take photos throughout the year to fit your passions, or take photos of you and your friends’ adventures throughout the year; use a polaroid or digital camera for some extra whimsy. Are you an explorer at heart? Make it a goal to visit research and visit unique landmarks, museums, and other attractions in your state this year, or even the tristate area.

I’ve given a ton of examples of all kinds—I hope it sparked something for you! It’s time we discard our preconceived ideas of what a resolution is, and consider taking a less conventional route. This year, think about what makes you happiest, and fill 2017 with it.

text and visual: jackie andrews
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