Some people believe that New Year’s resolutions are trite, often useless attempts at lofty goals. Roughly 80 percent of people fail to keep their resolutions intact. Despite this discouraging statistic, I still believe that resolutions have value in aiding us in something even bigger and more important than achieving our tangible goals.
People usually approach resolutions with an all-or-nothing mindset; after one failure, there’s no point in continuing the pursuit of that resolution. I believe that achieving resolutions lies in focusing on the process of a resolution rather than the end goal itself. Thus, failure once or twice will not derail the whole process.
New Year's resolutions can be extremely beneficial in aiding the process of creating ourselves. Of course, there’s something that feels optional about a resolution because there’s no penalty for not living up to it, and there’s always the next year to try again. This becomes especially easy when a resolution is unquantifiable — “I’m going to be a more patient person this year,” or “I’m going to eat healthier this year.” After a failure to achieve this goal, it’s only human to think it’s no longer worth pursuing.
In lieu of unquantifiable goals, there should be a shift to process-oriented resolutions, such as S.M.A.R.T. goals. If you have a goal to become a more avid reader, the focus of this should be on the process itself, such as setting a resolution to read 10 pages a day from a novel. I also find that process-oriented resolutions are integral to an overarching idea I’m beginning to embrace: the idea that we create — not find or discover — ourselves in college.
Resolutions are only a small and timely discussion in the overarching ideal of finding ourselves in everything that we do. Resolutions are a reminder that it’s a new year and a chance to set new goals that we can look forward to achieving in the coming year. But the main point of mentioning resolutions is not about the resolutions themselves but in what they can do for us as young people eager to learn more about who we are.
Entering the new year should always feel like a refreshing start, especially in college. College is often talked about as the prime time for self-discovery with endless exploration and opportunities; thus, entering each year is an exciting restart but also a continuation of building on the lessons learned from the previous year. We go to college to get an education, friends, and the professional and interpersonal skills necessary to be successful in this life.
I was very excited about going to college for those exact reasons. Although not immediately, I thought that everything would definitely fall into place in the way that it was supposed to. In the pursuit of professional skills and a good education, we assume that there are specific majors and eventual career goals destined for us. We sometimes believe that we are also destined for specific social circles. We even think that in all of this, we have found ourselves. Even after finishing my first year, I thought I had undoubtedly found myself in my new friends and my major. Almost a full year later, going into 2023, I realized that I didn’t really find myself in any of that.
Finding yourself inherently implies that there’s one version of yourself and one version of your life that is waiting for you, waiting to be discovered. With that mindset, I began to question my choices of my major, my extracurriculars, and how I was focusing my energy. Was this the major and the subsequent career path I was meant to find? What if I am making the wrong choices — will my future go awry? These questions started to plague me last semester; I became fearful that I was going down the wrong path. What if I am meant to be pre-med? It’s a bit cliche, but it's both a beauty and a burden that there is no wrong answer.
I know that I’m far from alone in questioning these things. Many students struggle with narrowing their focus academically, socially, and emotionally. But with reflection, I decided I no longer wanted to frame life as simply finding pieces that belong to a larger, predestined puzzle. I prefer the metaphor that everyone’s life is a piece of art that we create along the way as we adjust to the inevitable oscillations of life. And most importantly, there is no final product that is more correct or beautiful than any other.
So, in the spirit of New Year's and college, choose resolutions that encourage you to create yourself in a way that dedicates you to a process rather than a goal. Not only does this approach provide more room for failure, it again aligns with a mindset of creation versus discovery. Embrace the creation that 2023 holds!
ALLISON SANTA-CRUZ is a College sophomore studying Communication from Jackson, MS. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.