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I can almost guarantee that whatever New Year’s resolution you set is long forgotten at this time of the month. You shouldn’t feel bad about yourself, because it happens to just about everyone. Diet plans, side job searches, and even budgeting are all common resolutions that are abandoned within the first few weeks of January.

It’s mainly due to the sustainability of what you’re doing. If the new diet plan that you are trying doesn’t let you have any carbs for three months, it might not be easy to maintain. And that’s okay! You shouldn’t feel ashamed to adjust a plan you started so that you can continue pursuing your goals. There may even be a better way to chase your dreams, where you don’t have to form new resolutions, but “tweak” your old habits instead.

[bf_image id="n54jxp9234wvcs9mxqggcf"] Habits are formed in a sort of loop, where there is a cue, a routine, and a reward. For example, you are hungry, you eat, you are no longer hungry. In some cases, though, habits can become negative when the routine is not beneficial to you. Maybe your habit becomes a late-night scroll through Twitter when you should be getting sleep, or maybe your habit is not responding to a friend’s texts even though your resolution was to improve your communication.

The keys are to recognize the cue and routine, start slow, and make the habit fairly low effort in the beginning. If you want to start exercising more, it will be more sustainable to add just a few minutes of movement into your day and gradually increase your routine when you see rewards. The cue is also important because if you know that you fall into a Netflix binge after class, you can start to use that cue to your advantage. After class, instead of pressing play on your next Shameless episode, recognize the signal and divert your energy elsewhere. So, to summarize, start small and bring changes about gradually.

Even if you want to get better grades, you can use a certain cue, such as a Tik Tok notification that usually sends you into a spiral. Instead, use this as an alarm to study for five minutes. A short-term reward could be checking that notification, and a long-term reward could be improved study habits and grades. Once you start noticing your habits, it’s easy to find the cues that cause them, and a simple tweak of your routine after the cue can start giving you new, beneficial habits.

[bf_image id="wmnkjw8kcpw6szxz8zq7666h"] Don’t try to stick with a resolution that you started out of the blue on January first. It isn’t sustainable. Instead, take that resolution and work it into a habit you currently have. In the long run, you will not only reach your goals but also have more self-awareness to create beneficial practices and patterns in the future. Start small, grow continually, and don’t give up on yourself. It will take time, but eventually, you’ll recognize all of the changes that you set out to see in this new year!

Alea Lehr

Cal Lutheran '21

A Biology major with a love for anything and everything in the ocean! Any time away from examining coral structures, wading through streams, looking at cells, or grappling immunohistofluorescence is spent reading, writing, and baking. (She has the best banana bread recipe) Though she mostly composes scientific papers, creative writing is her true passion, and when she isn't coming up with an article, she's jotting down ideas for novels. During a bad case of writer's block, she tries to find inspiration by talking to her best friend, and dog, Bear.
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