A six-pack. A 4.0 GPA. A larger bank account balance. The list of predictable New Year’s resolutions drones on. What all of these commitments have in common is that they are additive: we want to grow our muscle mass, increase our marks, and make that bank. A refreshing way to spin these traditional resolutions on their heads is to ask ourselves a new question: what are our 2020 anti-resolutions?
An anti-resolution is focused on pinpointing our bad habits and resolving to leave those behind for the new year. In order to achieve a goal, we should work backward to figure out what personal attributes we have that prevent us from attaining that goal.
Below are personal anti-resolutions that The Varsity’s contributors have shared. After all, change comes in small steps, and these stories show the ones we can take during the new year.
— Stephanie Bai
- Stop with the self-imposed guilt trips
The second I got on the subway after my last exam, I stuck my head in a book and began a reading marathon that would go on for two days. The series I was starting was admittedly bad. It didn’t have captivating characters, an interesting premise, or an appealing style. But it was like accidentally turning on TLC and spending the next five hours watching Extreme Couponing.
After a month of non-stop studying, I was ready to just consume something easy and undeniably enjoyable. Unfortunately, I’d only gotten about two-thirds of the way into the first series before I hit a roadblock. An ever-familiar sense of overwhelming guilt popped into my brain and flooded it with the usual suspects: panicked thoughts.
Was I wasting my time? Shouldn’t I be filling out job applications, or get ready for next semester? Maybe I should be working on my writing skills? Was I worthless just because I had taken two days to lounge around my house and read a trashy book series?
The guilt I feel is by no means a unique experience. University is a demanding place, and often makes students feel as though they need to be productive every minute of every day in order to be successful. As a result, it can often be hard for us to take time off and do something fun. I’m talking about the kinds of things we do that are irrefutably directionless, like binge-watching three seasons of a TV show in two days or listening to music in bed.
The guilt we feel when we indulge in these activities stops us from relaxing while we’re doing them. What’s worse is that this guilt makes us feel incapable and unmotivated, further blocking our ability to complete productive tasks that we feel guilty over not doing.
This year, my anti-resolution is to stop making myself feel guilty when I do things simply because I enjoy them. This will help me focus by giving me some room to breathe in an already busy and cluttered life. I will allow myself to sink into the words of my delectably trashy books. Then, when I have to return to the real world, I can do it with a clear mind instead of a heavy conscience.
— Marta Anielska
- Cut out the procrastination
Last year, I waited just a few days before the deadline to start working on my most substantial class assignment, which was given to us at the beginning of the year. Sometimes when I need to access information and do not know where to get it, I will push off a task because it is too daunting to even start. Instead, I create my own crises: I tell myself that I must attend to new problems in my personal projects, my work, and my relationships, which snatches away my attention and productivity from more pressing tasks.
I feel that everyone has been there: four papers and six reflections due, and all you can think about is getting Starbucks and a snack. Even though we don’t actually want to sacrifice our marks for these small distractions, I still find myself rifling for food, texting my boss, or having a chat with one friend that turns into an hour-long existential crisis. And then I get back to work later, with even less time on the clock.
The assignment I kept putting off called for the creation of a podcast with an interview or report. I told myself that I would start two weeks before it was due. Then, two weeks turned into four days, because I needed time to come up with a story, find a person to interview, and write up my project.
Even though I eventually came up with a topic, I realized from this experience that my procrastination stems from uncertainty about how to proceed, causing me to wait until the last minute. With this assignment, it was so hard to find a story that I could not muster enough internal motivation to get started.
With only four days left, I took a perfectly manageable task and turned it into a full-blown crisis. I vowed after that assignment to stop turning doable tasks into stressful bouts of panic.
Rolling into the new year, I do not want to create a slew of new goals. For me, it’s most important to counter my negative habit of procrastination. I created reminders that will help me stay on track with my planning and productivity — both of which will make me feel more accomplished and fulfilled.
— Jla Starr
- A cookie a day doesn’t keep the doctor away
As soon as December hits, I usually begin making a list of all the New Year’s resolutions I intend to keep for the following year. This year, as I sat in my room contemplating my resolutions for 2020, I realized that I did not achieve most of my resolutions for 2019. I wanted to do something different and decided to keep an anti-resolution instead.
As I sat there thinking about a habit or a quality of mine that I could get rid of, my mind wandered to my guilty pleasures. The first thing that I thought of were cookies.
Cookies are available constantly at my Chestnut Residence. Every time I walk into the dining hall, I walk out with a decadent chocolate chip cookie. While this may be acceptable for a day or two, a cookie every day certainly does not keep the doctor away.
I realized that there are many issues associated with eating desserts regularly and I don’t want to continue to fall prey to them. Too much sugar leads to an increased heart rate and a feeling of jitteriness, which is a hindrance to concentration. By eating less sugar, I will be able to improve concentration, which will improve my overall productivity.
The phrase ‘new year, new me’ is often associated with resolutions which I believed were extremely clichéd. However, this year, I aim to adhere to this phrase and improve my habits to become a ‘new me’ by eating fewer cookies! Certainly, giving up chocolate chip cookies entirely is next to impossible, but I can take steps to reduce my overall consumption of them. After all, small steps are essential for a big change.
— Kirtana Devaraj