Another year, another you—at least, in theory.

Every Jan. 1, millions of people make resolutions to better themselves over the course of the New Year. Whether that’s eating more healthfully, being more fiscally responsible, or finally getting started on that magnum opus you know that’s inside you, the New Year promises it all. The only trouble is getting there.

Come February, the motivation that you started with is completely down the drain. By then, CentreTerm has taken its toll and those Wednesday No-Bakes were just too hard to resist. You’ve blown all your work-study money at Walmart and you’re no closer to finishing that novel. Sound familiar?

The key to keeping a New Year’s resolution is having a specific goal, a good plan on how to achieve it, and some strong willpower.

And if you think all this sounds about as easy as Organic Chemistry lab, then you are not alone.

A large sample of the student body on campus didn’t even make resolutions this year. Why is that? For many, they just didn’t want to deal with the disappointment they knew may accompany a resolution two weeks down the road.

“We are afraid of failure so we don’t come up with New Year’s resolutions if we don’t think we can keep them,” sophomore Shruti Ram said.

Of course this makes sense; if you don’t have a positive attitude from the beginning, why even bother?

So here we come to the most important initial step when making and sticking with your New Year’s resolution: have a positive attitude.

“Be the change you want to see in the world,” “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’”—whatever adage you want to use, make your resolution with a positive attitude in mind. There can be no lingering doubts, or you’re already setting yourself up for failure.

On the flip side of that, if at some point you do mess up during the course of the year, that’s no reason to throw all your positivity out of the window. Pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and tell yourself that everyone makes mistakes. Hannah Montana said it, so it must be true. The importance lies in how you respond to your mistakes. You can’t fail if you never quit.

So what else can you do to ensure success? First-year Fah Robbins was brimming with great suggestions.

“I would set a specific goal. Say if I wanted to eat healthier, I would pick a specific number of calories every day. I would also put a reminder on my door or something,” Robbins said. “Or, if I wanted to go to the gym more, I would put a mirror on my door so I could see myself before I left my room. All it takes is to do it every day for a week and it becomes a habit. You need the right attitude.”

According to Robbins, in addition to a positive attitude, you must have a very specific goal you want to achieve and a specific way of bringing it about, such as determining calories and counting them if you want to lose weight.

Also, Robbins brings up an interesting pro tip: give yourself a daily reminder. If you do that, you go a long way toward building a daily habit.

So with all these good ideas on how to make and maintain a New Year’s resolution, why don’t other students make them in the first place?

“Why do we need the new year as an excuse to change?” junior Aubrey Russak-Pribble said. “If we want to make a change, we’ll just change [at any time of year].”

Many students echoed Russak-Pribble’s sentiment, including Robbins and Ram. The importance of a New Year’s resolution is not in the timing, but in the willingness to change. Knowing this takes some of the pressure off the need to succeed if you did make a resolution. At any point if you fall of the bandwagon, you can get right back on it any time you want.

Junior Daniel Curran takes a different approach. Curran was one of the few people to have actually made a New Year’s resolution: to eat less Cowan pizza.

“I gained fifteen pounds last semester just from Cowan pizza,” Curran said. “So now, I’ll look at the pizza in Cowan and just say ‘no.’”

Curran’s strategy is beautifully simple: he’s taking baby steps. In order to become healthier, he is making a small, easily manageable change to reap a larger reward. So maybe take a step back from those ambitious goals, and think of smaller ones that lead to a similar end result.

Regardless of whether you made a New Year’s resolution or not, if you want to make a change in your life remember to keep a positive attitude, set specific goals, give yourself daily reminders and keep your goals attainable. So go on, make that Jan. 22 resolution. No one will know the difference.

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