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Should we give up or adopt New Year’s resolutions?

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Editor’s Note: In this future view, students discuss New Year’s resolutions. Next week we will ask:Are you afraid of the Omicron variant? How draconian must American institutions be, with the spread of this new form of Covid? Students should click here to submit opinions of less than 250 words by January 11. The best answers will be published that evening.

My New Year’s resolution this year is not to make New Year’s resolutions. There is too much focus on the potential for the coming year which causes us to ignore the little moments in life that could really lead to positive change.

Every new year, we make big, ambitious resolutions: exercise more, eat less, get organized. But these monumental goals doomed us to failure. Progress is being made for the first two weeks. Then reality sets in, we start to slide, and our life-changing resolve crumbles.

To avoid this pattern, I want to learn to see each day as a new opportunity. My micro-resolutions may be small – compliment a stranger or spend five more minutes outdoors – but they offer a chance to build a better life. I have no resolutions for 2022. I seek to use each day as an opportunity to appreciate what I already have and to take small steps towards a better future.

—Sophie Dessart, Arizona State University, Global Affairs and Global Affairs

To rest

In 2022, I have resolved to do more while doing less. My messy focus on productivity for itself made me bounce endlessly from one thing to another, letting time fall like sand in my hands. In the hope of changing this trend, I made a New Year’s resolution to reserve Sunday as the day of rest. I’m not just talking about taking a break from work. I want to fill my Sundays with family and friends and contemplation of higher things. In addition, I want to call my siblings and parents regularly during the school year and try new adventures with friends. Humans are not robots; productivity shouldn’t be our highest goal. We should take at least one day a week to slow down, neglect our to-do lists, and participate in real hobbies.

—Jack Power, University of Virginia, Economics and Political Philosophy

Building Habits

New Year’s resolutions should be dropped. They make people jump right into the deep end, trying to change something in themselves all at once. Too often, they are overwhelmed and, at the first sign of slippage, give up their resolutions. These annual goals are the ultimate form of Next Monday, the idea that at some arbitrary future time people will be more able and more willing to take on a new challenge than they are now.

There is a better way to approach self improvement. The first step is to identify the underlying aspect of life that needs to be improved. We need to focus on the big picture, not on a specific task or metric. The second step is to create a feedback loop: any mechanism that allows for reflection on progress at regular intervals. And the third step requires working for a short time. Focus on a season, or even a month, then assess the progress and find a new theme. The goal is to build habits gradually while reflecting on behaviors and avoiding all-or-nothing commitments.

—William Greve, University of Oxford, Philosophy, Politics and Economics

Look for rejections

My biggest resolution for 2022 is to be rejected once a week, losing at least 52 art-related internships, residencies, or skills-building programs. It might sound odd, but by aiming for regular rejection, I hope to learn to value myself and not be put off by failure. I might even learn resilience so that I don’t jump at the first opportunity that presents itself and keep applying, knowing that I can handle a few more refusals.

—Nemo Newman, Princeton University, artistic practice

Meet new people

Rather than staying comfortable, in this new year I want to go out, meet new people and experience new circumstances. I have to apply for part-time jobs and challenge myself to take various exams, from driving tests to English tests, so that I can look at the world from a wider perspective. I often find myself looking for happiness while looking for something big and special. What I need to learn is how to appreciate the particular, to find happiness in things that seem insignificant and small.

—Seonhui Hwang, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Vietnamese

Exit dating apps

I want to quit dating apps in this new year. The endlessness of these applications is truly exhausting. During Covid, dating apps became one of my primary means of human connection. They might not be inherently bad, but using them for approval and interaction is a sad and dangerous way to live. By my calculations, I spent about 60 days on my phone last year, two months that I resolved not to waste this year.

—Nash Taylor, Columbia University, architecture

Read more

My New Years 2022 resolution is to read books every day. Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, reading is an incredibly good habit. It has been shown to improve mental acuity, reduce stress, and relieve depression. I know that reading has already made me feel better and I can’t wait to make my resolve to read more a reality. In an age of silly tweets and angry hashtags, it’s nice to step back and read in peace.

—Alexander Schimka, Loyola University Chicago, political science

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Newspaper editorial report: Kyle Peterson, Mary O’Grady, Dan Henninger and Paul Gigot predict what is to come in 2022. Images: AFP / Getty Images Composite: Mark Kelly

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