After an emotional and somewhat discombobulated rendition of Auld Lang Syne and simultaneously hugging and kissing everyone within a ten-foot radius, there comes an inevitable lull in time when we reflect on the lessons we have learnt from the year gone by and what we hope to do differently in the new year. It seems that we are a culture are defined by these New Years Resolutions, and judging by social media platforms between Christmas and New Year featuring the obligatory, ‘New Year, New Me’ posts, or Flipagram montages of the past year, it seems we’re obsessed just as much on reflection as we are on the the idea of a fresh start. These promises we make on New Years’ Eve are not a modern concept, The Romans began each year by making promises to the god Janus, after whom the month of January is named, whilst The Babylonians made promises to earn the favour of the God’s at the start of each new year. Back in the 21st century, in order to ensure a successful year ahead, we often resolve to do something that will make us a better person. This can take form in a variety of resolutions including, going to the gym more, eating heathier and drinking more water. (Fiji water, anyone?)
According to a recent study by YouGov, two-thirds of British adults will make a New Years Resolution this year. 40% of participants aged 18-24 vowed to get fitter in 2016, 29% said they wanted to lose weight, and 25% said they wanted to take more care of their appearance. Surprisingly, only 5% vowed to quit smoking in 2016 and 11% wished to stop drinking or reduce their alcohol intake in the new year. Shannon Clark, an English Student at the University of Southampton says of the findings;
‘I’m not surprised by the uptake in fitness and healthy eating as these changes are relatively easy to implement in relation to something difficult like trying to give up smoking. But the fact that people aren’t more concerned with their health in the future relating to their drinking and smoking habits is really concerning. It seems that people are more concerned with their appearance than their health.’
Significantly, a quarter of participants aged 18-24 said they are not planning to make any new years’ resolutions this year. So despite the buzz on social media, we may not be that obsessed with New Years Resolution at all, and instead, we’re disillusioned with the idea of making a lifestyle change every 1st January. This really comes as no surprise, as according to the YouGov study, 32% of New Years Resolutions are broken before the month of January is even up, with the average length of time a person can expect to keep their promise at about three and a half weeks. A confident 10% of self-assured participants stated that they never break a new year’s resolution.
These statistics don’t give a great outlook for those wishing to make a change in the new year. So here are 10 good New Years Resolutions that we as students should be striving to stick to in 2016;
- Get up in the mornings! Carpe Diem. Seize the day! You know the score, you’ll end up feeling more productive and subsequently, happier.
- Celebrate your friends’ successes. Whether that be a first in an essay or a grad job, let them know that you’re just as chuffed as them at what they’ve achieved.
- Turn off your IPhone when you’re out for dinner, or at least turn it face down on the table. Be present in the moment.
- Rid yourself of frenemies. There’s no point in entering a new year with people you actually cannot stand.
- Stop procrastinating. Work for three straight hours then break for half an hour. Do that in three segments throughout the day and you would have done the equivalent of a shift at work.
- Don’t beat yourself for eating that slice of cake. We are all entitled to a treat every now and again.
- And on the note of eating cake, aim to support local businesses or cafes as much as you can. In the hustle and bustle of Southampton, it can be easy to be distracted by the lights of the big chains and ignore the hidden, independent gems. Get yourself on trip advisor and check out the privately run bars and restaurants and support a local family whilst you’re at it!
- How many times have we seen a homeless person on the streets of Southampton and said that we’d rather buy them a sandwich or a hot drink than give them money? Well, do it! Pop into Greggs and make a homeless person’s day with a sandwich and a smile.
- Finally, allow yourself to feel things. Be that angry, or sad. It’s okay to feel your feelings.
Perhaps we would be more likely to stick to resolutions like this that make us better, more-rounded people, than vowing to go from coach potato to gym junkie overnight. When thinking about New Years Resolutions, we should challenge ourselves to refrain from unattainable resolutions based on some unfounded personal insecurity but think about what can be an easy, positive change to bring into our life. So, despite the relieved and expectant Instagram posts on the 31st December from intoxicated individuals, ‘Bye 2015! I can’t wait to see the back of you! (feat. fitting waving hand emoji), unfortunately 2016 isn’t going to stop awful things happening. It may just be the best year of your life, but unexpected things are always going to happen. The only choice we have is how we handle these difficulties. In 2016, the true resolution we should all be making is to handle whatever life throws at us with grace, humour and courage.