The Key To Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions

January is out of the way, and with that the “New Year, new me” resolutions fall back into a pile of jokes and regret that will try to be repressed until next New Year’s eve. At least that’s the case for most. Virgin Mobile Canada conducted a survey, which found that 51 per cent of Canadians make New Year’s resolutions and in this group, only 52 per cent make it out of January. If you only managed the first week, don’t worry—only 19 per cent make it past the first 24 hours.

Students at Ryerson, like Solomon Ogunrotimi, second year international economics and finance student, were in the percentage of people to make a resolution and keep it past the first month. Even the weather conditions on Monday couldn’t stop him from going to the gym and continue his goal of managing a healthy lifestyle this year. But he isn’t the majority; 71 per cent of Canadians said inclement weather would stop them from losing weight and working towards their health goals, according to a recent Ipsos Reid poll.

Staying on track of New Year’s resolutions is all about balancing the goal without putting too much pressure on yourself, according to Su-Ting Teo, Ryerson’s director of student health and wellness. “The trick is to prioritize the things that will have the most impact on everything: sleep and exercise.”

Balance is at the core of Simran Kharod’s resolution. The first year nursing student has five goals for 2015: getting fit with yoga, learning how to cook, managing schoolwork, dressing well, and most importantly – what makes it all possible – maintaining a planner.

Getting fit with yoga. Photo: Maham Shakeel

Getting fit with yoga.
Photo: Maham Shakeel

“I literally want to quit twice a week, but the only reason I keep going is because I told my best friend and he would never let me forget if I quit,” said Kharod.

Teo said that it’s these “buddies” who help keep resolutions who are necessary because they reinforce the value and continued behaviour.

Some students find the idea of resolutions “pathetic” like Sarah-Jane Ford, a second year history major. “I feel like people feel guilty and try to make up for something that makes them shitty, but then give up within two weeks.”

It was this guilt that made her decide on a New Year resolution for the first time. “I do this thing where I start a book and read three quarters before leaving it,” said Ford. “I’ll look at it and think, ‘I should finish it, but now I’m reading another book,’ which I wouldn’t finish either.”

Photo: Maham Shakeel

Ford wants to stick with her books. Photo: Maham Shakeel

She plans on reading the equivalent of one book every week, which makes 52 books by the end of the year. So far, she’s got six under her belt– making her two weeks ahead.

Unlike strict resolutions like quitting smoking, working out a certain amount of time per week, or sticking to a diet, she says this resolution is more realistic. “I can, and I know I will, dip off around exams but I can catch up in summer. I manage it how I can without being too hard on myself.”

Her issue with New Year’s resolutions is that changes that better a person shouldn’t be restricted to a starting date, or so narrow that they become unrealistic and unmanageable.

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Gaviola gets his fencing game on. Photo: Maham Shakeel

But New Year’s resolutions give an incentive to start and make change, which is just the push some people like Shawn Gaviola, second year computer science student, needed to do something that a lot of people struggle with.

“My resolution was to actually do the things that I want to do, instead of just talking about doing them and not following through,” said Gaviola. Within a month, Gaviola joined the Game Maker’s Union, Ryerson Urban Outreach, and the varsity fencing team. He also recently started volunteering in an after-school literacy program with Frontier College he found through Ryerson.

“Getting involved with communities and campus groups is social and counteracts isolation, which is a big contributor to poor mental health,” said Teo. She added that this also improves networking, which can lead to job opportunities.

So even when the weather is bad, don’t give up on your resolutions. Getting out there can lead to even more benefits than the goal one might have initially set out for.