We are about to ring in a new year! Will you make resolutions or not?
As a college student, making and keeping resolutions was never a top priority for me. Life at that time was structured – I was taking classes to discover my strengths and grow, and everywhere I turned, someone was there to walk with me along the way.
Life after college is not quite like that.
Structure is often lacking, especially if you’re looking for a job, or trying to figure out if you are in the right career. Safety nets, for the most part, disappear. It is up to you to take care of yourself and to find people to care for. That is why, ever since tossing the cap, I have found it incredibly helpful to make resolutions and stick to them.
If making resolutions is something you’ve resolved to do this year (see what I just did there?), then I would like to share resolutions I’ve made in the past and confess what has worked and what hasn’t.
For starters, here are the resolutions you SHOULDN’T make:
Vague resolutions like “Be open to new things” or “Communicate more.” Without concrete goals and steps, these resolutions cannot become reality.
Any resolution that you are not passionate about. You should be excited to tackle your New Year’s resolutions; they should never be chores.
During my first year out of college, my goals fell into the two categories above, especially the first. While admirable, the goals were so vague, that it wasn’t until more than halfway through the year that I started coming up with ways that I could live my resolutions. Here are some of those ways:
Resolution #1: To be more open, go on a minimum of five dates this year, preferably with five different people.
At the time I made this resolution, my love life was seriously lacking. I put my career and travelling before anything else. I was closed to romance; I thought I had no time for it, and frankly, I was intimidated by it. However, after making this resolution, I decided that I would start going to places that I normally wouldn’t and with people that I didn’t know, or had just recently met. I decided to start being more generous with my time and with those around me. And guess what? My dating life improved dramatically.
This resolution was a great one to make. It was a concrete goal I could work towards, and a goal that I very much wanted to reach. As a woman who doesn’t typically ask guys out, just making the resolution was no guarantee to a successful outcome. I had to put on a whole new attitude of openness to others, and this attitude has served me well. And yes, I went on some awkward dates, but I also went on some awesome ones. And to add a little frosting to the cake, a couple years into living out this resolution, I met a pretty cool guy.
However, not everyone’s love life is as pathetic as mine coming out of college. If you need an alternative resolution to grow in openness, consider this one:
Go on a road-trip to two new places, one in state and one out of state.
This is something most people have somewhere on their bucket list, but never get around to doing. So, do yourself a favor and upgrade it from bucket list item to firm resolution.
Again, this resolution will teach you to be open. Most people right out of college aren’t rich, so financing road trip can be somewhat difficult. Be open to couch-surfing, staying in hostels, sleeping in your car, and camping. Be open to travelling with people you’ve never travelled with before but with whom you feel a connection. Be open to travelling alone. Explore your state whenever you get the opportunity, and consciously block off some time and save some money to go a bit further, even if it is right across the border.
This resolution is one I’ve made each year since graduating, never knowing where it was going to take me. It has not only taught me to be more open, but has also helped me keep in touch with friends and family around the country. It has also, in some circumstances, forced me to get into better shape, and to start budgeting. Budgeting and exercising are way less of a pain if the goal is for something you’re passionate about.
Resolution #2: To be a better communicator, keep your computer/phone on your desk, not in your bed.
To be honest, I no longer live out this resolution (thanks, Netflix) but it worked well over the course of a year. Instead of taking my laptop to bed and staring in at the lives of people I hardly knew or watching endless videos, I felt more inclined to limit my time in front of the screen and go out into the world. I highly recommend this for those who have trouble getting motivated. But, only make this resolution if the idea of getting out and about truly excites you. If you’d rather stay huddled up, skip this one, and know that I understand. This was a difficult resolution to keep.
If you have roommates, an alternative resolution would be to leave your bedroom door open when you're not sleeping, praying, or meditating. Again, I followed this resolution for a year, and it was great. I was able to effectively communicate what I needed, and I was available to listen to their concerns. We connecting a lot more and doing a great deal of things together. This resolution, obviously, forced me to be more open and generous with my time, but it was also great for assertive and effective communication. I think this is a resolution I’m going to put into motion again with the coming of 2017.
Resolution #3: Make a commitment to practice growing a skill.
I know that sounds rather vague – I just broke my first rule. But honestly, this resolution will look different for everyone, based on the skills you wish to grow in. I think the key to this type of resolution, or any resolution really, is accountability. Try using your skills to create something for someone else, and they will hold you to it. If you’d like to practice you’re writing, consider contributing regularly to a blog, not just writing your own. If you’d like to practice a visual art, consider designing a poster, sign, or card for a family of friend’s business or website. If you wish to practice bookkeeping, offer to get your elderly aunt’s affairs in order. The possibilities are endless.
The years after college are full of incredible transition, and chances are, you will grow and change more between the ages of 21 and 25 than you did during your whole college career. So, the best resolutions to make during this time are those that will help you roll with and embrace change, as well as discover what truly fits for you. Use the beginning of the New Year to consider what skills and qualities you would truly like to nurture, and think of a fun way (for you!) to nurture them.
Have a wonderful New Year!