You know it’s the beginning of a new year when your phone blows up with ‘Happy New Year!’ messages and the famous question begins floating in everyone’s mind: “What’s your New Year’s resolution?” Yet, how many of us are disappointed within the first month for not keeping up with our resolutions? 

We all set goals, whether they’re big or small, for the following New Year and that’s a motivational starter, but most times we set too many goals all at once, and when they are not achieved within the first month or two, we automatically discard the goal with disappointment.  

Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist at Harvard Business School, says to Independent that “there are four common mistakes with New Year’s resolutions.” The article that Independent published back in 2015 states the four common mistakes are that we “deal with absolutes, are framed by negativity, are focused on the outcome and not the process, and [are] reliant on outside forces.” 

Take losing weight as an example. Many people want to achieve this, but go about it the wrong way and fall victim to these very four common mistakes. 

1. Dealing with absolutes. When someone creates a goal to go to the gym every single day for two hours no matter what, they are setting themselves up for failure. This is creating a very specific and rigid goal that isn’t realistic with most people’s daily lives. Because of this, people tend to fail and then feel really bad about it. 

2. Framed by negativity. Framing your goals as things that you are going to do is more positive than saying “don’t do this.” Instead of saying “don’t eat junk food” to lose weight, say “eat healthier” to put you in a positive mindset before starting your goal. 

3. Focusing on the outcome rather than the process. I think this one is the most common mistake. When we think of losing weight, we often want to just lose weight and be skinny. We often get fixated on the numbers on the scale, but what’s more important is the journey you take to losing that weight. The progress you make should be the focus, not necessarily the outcome. 

4. Reliant on outside forces. When making goals like going to the gym everyday, we need to take into consideration factors like our work or school schedule, or the weather or transportation, which are things we can’t completely control. 

While some goals are straightforward and others more complex, I think this year’s resolution should be one that we all work towards with time and effort. A goal that can be broken down to smaller goals that are more instant but ultimately works toward a greater achievement. 

For example, work on goals you know you will be able to meet and don’t set your standards too high. 

Instead of just making a list, prioritize and give yourself enough time, and be reasonable to both your mind and body. Make sure you’re able to meet at least one of the goals and if the rest are not met, don’t worry and treat yourself with meeting that one goal. 

Not all stress is bad

When hearing the word ‘stress’, our brain often thinks of the worst scenarios, like family issues or financial problems. Yet, not all stress is bad. Many of us experience school stress on a daily basis; we stress over assignments and exams but we still find some motivation to get through it. Before you roll your eyes, which you already probably are, stress is a natural force that we all go through. It is inevitable and so we have to begin accepting it and looking at the good side of stress. Sure there are many negative factors to stress, and stressing too much could lead to serious issues, but like feeling nervous about performing on a stage, you gotta use it to fuel yourself and push through.  

Researchers came up with two coping styles, ‘Teflon’ and ‘Velcro.’ The article states that Teflon-type of people experience more stressful situations and “tend to shed the negative effects of [these] events more easily ” whereas Velcro-type of people “have a harder time recovering from that stress.” 

These types of people are not concrete, meaning you could go from being one type to another just by changing your perspective and the way you approach situations. Let’s relate this to our daily school routines: we have some students who join many clubs, take AP classes, have a very active social life and still maintain high grades—these are the Teflons. Then there are the opposite, Velcros, who don’t join any clubs, are struggling in school, tend to stay at home all week, and barely pass their classes. Both students are capable of achieving high grades but it’s all about the mindset: if we’re grumpy about that paper we have to write, or the notes we have to review, then we have a harder time focusing on the work because all we are focused on is how the work is stressful and tiring and just not fun. The negative mindset doesn’t do anything to help you rise from the stress, it just causes you to give up before even starting. If you adjust your mindset to that of a Teflon, and think of the tasks at hand in a positive way by finding some love or happiness from it—maybe you just love learning about genes—it motivates you to complete the task and keep going. 

Stress isn’t going to go anywhere, but it is up to us to choose which to be when we face stressful situations, a Velcro or Teflon.

Which one are you, Velcro or Teflon? 

Self-care is Important 

Regardless of whether the stress we experience is good or bad, we need to make sure we take care of ourselves to achieve our daily tasks and goals. A caregiver once told me that, when taking care of someone ill or unable to function, we first take care of ourselves so we have good energy when taking care of others. 

We tend to put ourselves on the back-burner when many things are on a plate. We forget to do things that make us happy, like eating well, drinking water, reading a book, or getting a good amount of sleep. We try to finish every task there is in life all in one day, often neglecting ourselves in the process. 

Forbes’ article on ‘Practicing Self-Care is Important: 10 Easy Habits To Get You Started’ mentions that self-care is important “for our physical, emotional and [overall] well-being.” I have highlighted some important ones below:

  • “Knowing your worth” 
    • This helps you boost your confidence and self-esteem. 
    • It also reminds you that your needs are important as well.
  • “[Having] a healthy work-life balance” 
    • Over-working and not taking breaks can lead to many health-problems. 
    • Take breaks by having a snack or calling your mom throughout the day. 
  • “Manage stress”
    • Not all stress is bad for us, but it can get overwhelming, which affects our mental and physical health. 
    • Take a breather and give yourself time to spend with loved ones away from stressful situations. 
    • Make sure to eat healthy and the right amount. When stressed out, we either tend to overeat or undereat. 
  • “Start living, stop existing!” 
    • We tend to get sucked into a routine of sleep, eat, school, work, chores and repeat, that we forget to enjoy life. 
    • Try new things that you want to try in life like a new activity. 
    • Have fun!! 

Make sure you take care of yourself, both mentally and physically.

Tips & Tricks! 

You’ve read this far, and to me that means you probably want some tips and tricks to change this new year. Here’s a list of tips I’ve gathered from articles and my own self-care routines: 

  1. Exercise: relieve your stress with a jog or a run. 
  2. Meditation: taking deep breaths when feeling overwhelmed. Praying is a spiritual form of meditation. 
  3. Remember: when you need a break, take it.
  4. Eat healthy: treat yourself with a healthy meal. 
  5. When spending time with others, make sure they are the people that make you happy. 
  6. Try new things—go out of your comfort zone. 
  7. Simply a good laugh will help. 
  8. Saying ‘no’ is okay. 
  9. Maintain a work-life balance: create a schedule where both self-care and daily routines are included. 
  10. Remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can and take it day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, and second by second. 

Instagram is a great tool—this self-care account reminds you what you’re worth and even shows you some tips and tricks!