Seeing New Resolutions through

A new year not only bring a new semester, but it is the traditional time for people to make an attempt to change something they do not like about themselves. Unfortunately, it is also the traditional time for such attempts to be ground into tiny bits as people slowly revert back to their usual ways.

Despite the high abandonment rate of New Year’s resolutions, with a bit of planning and determination, it is possible to carry a resolution through the year and make a lasting change.

A perennial favorite New Year’s resolution is to spend more time with friends and family, and, in college—particularly at Tech—this can be more difficult than it sounds.

After all, if your family lives several hundred miles away from Atlanta, odds are you won’t be going home every weekend for a nice home-cooked meal. For students with family in-town, though, it still can be difficult to work in time with family between homework, clubs and the nine-page paper you’ve been meaning to write for the past month.

The solution is to make it easier for your family to keep up with what’s going on in your life and vice versa without them having to be here. A phone call once or twice a week, just to see what’s going on at home and share what you’ve been up to, can go a long way towards keeping in touch with your family, as can sending a few photos home every now and then.

As for spending more time with friends, it’s simply a matter of finding the time, or, if that’s not possible, making the time. Setting aside a night a week where everyone agrees to go to a movie, go out to eat, go bowling or even just watch a DVD in someone’s room are excellent ways to keep up with everyone.

If even this isn’t possible, simply doing mundane activities (particularly laundry) at the same time is an excellent way to squeeze out an hour together.

Another popular resolution is to learn a new skill over the course of the new year. This one is actually a relatively easy one to accomplish, particularly for college students, so long as you stick with it.

Bookstores are crammed with how-to books on dozens of different topics and the internet is full of how-to guides, podcasts and videos for teaching yourself everything from web development to writing to woodworking.

Because of all the sources, the problem really is not finding info on a new skill, but making yourself stick with that skill. A good strategy to follow with this method is to dedicate a set time every day to learning the skill.

Tinkering around with a webpage every night before going to sleep, watching a podcast between classes or simply finding a quiet spot to sit and read every day are all great ways to make steady progress on a new skill.

For those who learn better with a bit more structure, though, Tech quite literally offers a variety of options for learning new skills. For Tech students who prefer learning in a classroom setting, registration for options classes at the Student Center is currently in progress.

This semester, classes offered include a handful of languages, several styles of dance, painting, drawing, photography and a number of other classes.

Perhaps one of the most common resolution on everyone’s mind is to live a healthier lifestyle. Whether this involves dieting, hitting the gym more often or just eating out less, weight loss is the ultimate goal everyone tries to achieve.

While motivation is often a barrier in achieving this particular resolution, a few simple tricks will help you on your way into becoming a more healthy person.

Joining a gym and working out with friends is an excellent to keep you motivated and make exercising fun. Your workout does not have to involve the traditional treadmills and ellipticals. Swim, bike outside, play a game of basketball or take a walk a couple of times a week. Exercising with friends is a good way to stay motivated and have fun.

If you’re not ready to make such a big commitment to your life, start by making small changes to your diet. Eliminate soda and replace it with plenty of water. Spend a minute every night before you go to bed doing as many crunches as possible.

Of course, the be-all, end-all resolution for college students is something they strive for year-round: getting better grades. With the new year comes a new semester and every year students take it as a chance for a fresh start and a chance to raise their GPA.

Some of the best ways of keeping grades up are common knowledge, albeit often ignored common knowledge. As cliché as it sounds, the best ways to ensure better grades are to go to lectures and recitations, put effort into homework assignments and talk to professors before misunderstood concepts snowball into an unmanageable mountain of material.

Similar to learning a new skill, the best way to do well in a class is to make steady progress over a period of time rather than simply trying to cram everything in at once. An hour spent studying every night of the week will normally produce much better results than the same seven hours strung back-to-back. This also eliminates those last-minute realizations that that homework assignment you’ve been putting off is going to swallow your weekend whole.

Another popular resolution, strangely enough, goes a long way towards helping all those discussed above: better time management. It’s often phrased differently (such as “Wasting less time,” “Being less lazy,” “Being more organized,” etc.), but it all boils down to keeping track of where your time goes every day.

Randy Pausch, the late Carnegie-Mellon professor whose “Last Lecture” became an internet phenomenon, released a follow-up lecture devoted solely to how to be more organized, free up more time and keep better track of where your time is spent.

Some of his suggestions are just examples of common sense—such as keeping some kind of calendar—but he also suggests many innovative ways of ensuring that time is well-spent—such as unplugging the television and locking it in the closet and using those awkward hour-long intervals between classes to take care of homework and other mundane activities.

Sticking to a New Year’s resolution is never easy (hence the term resolution). It is possible, though, to stick it out. Often, all it takes is the simple force of will to keep with it. For those times when that’s not enough, a little judicious planning never hurt either.