‘New Year, New Me!’: How UWindsor Students are Sticking to Their New Year’s Resolutions
A new year is upon us, Lancers, and this fresh start might just be the perfect time to make that change you’ve been procrastinating for months.
“Our culture seems to value new year’s resolutions as a path towards change,” explains Dr. Carlin Miller, clinical psychologist and University of Windsor psychology professor.
“It’s in the news and on our social media and through social activities with our friends.”
Dominique Pal, a biology student, says that one of her resolutions is to be more consistent with being healthy and staying fit. “I plan to stick to this by holding myself accountable for my eating and exercise habits.”
New year’s resolutions are notorious for being forgotten about by the time February rolls around, despite the motivation that many people may feel at the start of the year.
“Change is hard,” says Dr. Miller. “Getting going with a new way of eating or an exercise plan or less time online requires you to get out of deeply embedded habits. Without thinking, we do what we have typically done- it’s a matter of overcoming behavioural inertia in many cases.”
“Another issue is that the changes we seek with our resolutions are often less rewarding than our old ways of doing something, so we have to ignore the unpleasantness of the task, especially when it is no longer truly novel. Many of our habits are comforting to us,” Dr. Miller adds.
Political science student Michael Rossi says that his resolution is to place a renewed focus on himself. “I often put the happiness of other people before my own, and this year I want to make sure I prioritize myself.”
Dr. Miller explains that there is not a one size fits all solution for sticking to your goals throughout the year. “For some people, it is a matter of finding someone to hold them accountable for making the change. For others, it is a matter of really wanting to make the change and committing to it.”
“I bought a Fitbit to track my workouts, and downloaded an app to log what I eat in a day. It’s been a week, and I’ve been staying consistent with my goal!” Pal says.
Rossi says that to stick to his resolution, he’s been writing in his journal daily. “I outline key goals and areas in my life where I want to see improvement, what I want to focus on for the day, and even write out affirmations.”
“By maintaining this habit, I remind myself of my goal every day,” he shares.
“Knowing what works for you is a key part of the process,” says Dr. Miller. “The good news is that there are lots of resources to help people change how they go through life.”
As someone who likes to use books to help her learn something new, Dr. Miller recommends ‘Better Than Before: Mastering the Habit of Our Everyday Lives’ by Gretchen Rubin.
“As a clinical psychologist, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that when you want to make a change, it can help to work with a professional. In addition to mental health professionals, it may also make sense to work with a coach or some specialized person (like a fitness trainer) if you don’t know where to start,” Dr. Miller says.
“There is support available to students right here on campus, including the Student Counseling Centre, the Student Health Centre, and the Toldo Lancer Centre.”
“Regardless of the changes or the strategies, it is so important that people be gracious with themselves as they work to do things differently,” Dr. Miller concludes. “Slips and bad days are part of being human, and it is important to grant ourselves the opportunity to start over every time without harsh judgements or unkindness.”