Friday is Feb. 1. This weekend some groundhog will poke his head out and run right back into his hole, given the cheek-numbing, snot-freezing, I-can’t-possibly-not-take-the-bus-to-class cold we’ve been enduring the last few weeks. In the meantime, it’s now one month since you may have resolved to improve yourself in 2013.
Although I’ve never been big on New Year’s resolutions, I decided that this year I would actively try to change. For me, the drafting of the resolutions started as I imagined it would. I chose a few things I really wanted to — and could — work on. I should be more patient (especially with my sister), I should set aside time to read just for me instead of for class and I should spend less time in front of my computer. As soon as I got warmed up writing these resolutions, I couldn’t help but continue. I quickly had a laundry list of things I could change about myself. Why stop at being patient? No reason to hold back in 2013. If I could find time to read, I could also be vegan! And go to yoga everyday! Curb my reality TV habit. And stop drinking caffeine. And beer. And sleep 12 hours every night, or whatever Prof. Maas recommends in his overpriced book that all 1,200 student in his class had to buy. In almost no time, I had resolved to be the meditating, raw food-eating, retirement home-volunteering Hannah I had always known I could be. 2013 was looking great.
Fast-forward a few hours and it’s 2 a.m. I am three lattes into the day (not to mention the turkey sandwich) and scrolling through some brain-eroding website.
If I was well-intentioned and modest to start when resolving for a better 2013, I quickly spun out of control into some self-helping monster who resembled Veruca Salt in Willy Wonka. Although I wasn’t begging for a golden egg-laying goose, I was wishing for things that were almost as unrealistic. So, at what point is it appropriate to give up on my resolutions, you ask? I don’t know. I know that I really enjoy cheese on just about anything and thus don’t see veganism in my near future. I know that no human being sleeps as much as Psych 101 prescribes, and I am pretty certain that if The Bachelor continues to dish out the grade-A drama its been delivering in recent weeks, I’m going to keep watching. So, maybe I won’t be a well-read, well-rested Mother Teresa by 2014, but with only 11 months left in 2013 (but hey, who’s counting?), I still have an opportunity to try.
Not surprisingly, psychologists have long studied New Year’s resolutions, and have found that 50 percent of the population makes them each year. We use a new year as an opportunity for reinvention. Often, we are ready for self-improvement but unprepared to give up bad habits or actually change behavior. In other words, by mid-January we are usually back to drinking too much, sleeping too little and giving too much of our money to Starbucks.
However, before you cut your losses and order CTP delivery, researchers have also studied successful resolutions and suggest that focusing on one or two resolutions, making them year-round projects and doing them with a friend can all improve your chances of being successful. They argue that making realistic goals and celebrating small victories is key.
So, what does this mean for my grandiose 2013 plan? I think it means I’m going to resolve to keep resolving, but I’m going to do so without a calendar and forgo some of the more outlandish goals I had set. Certainly, there is no harm in hoping to read more this year, or trying to eat less meat. I am not Buddha. I never will be and, I hate to break it to you, neither will you. But, I don’t have to be a monk to try to improve. If you are at all interested in fighting the good, albeit gradual, fight and trying to do something different in these last 11 months, we can meet at the the gym and a yoga class, as it is empty because all of those who set resolutions on Jan. 1 have sweat enough for the entire year and are no longer trying. Or, if that doesn’t work with your schedule, we can always just meet for drinks after Groundhog’s Day, so long as it doesn't conflict with Real Housewives.
Hannah Deixler is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She may be reached at email@example.com. Shades of Grey appears alternate Thursdays this semester.