Like many people, I’ve gone through a variety of versions of resolutions: New Year’s resolutions, resolutions made at the start of the academic year (“I’ll do all of my maths homework”, thought an optimistic 17-year-old me), even thinking I was above resolutions. After some experimenting, I’ve found that the best resolutions for me are the ones I make termly. A clunky attempt at a name for them might be ‘New Term’s resolutions’.
So what’s stopping me from making New Year’s resolutions like everyone else? Well, a year is a very long time to plan ahead for. It’s hard to know what I’ll be striving for in a year’s time. As a second-year student, I know, on a superficial level, that in a year I’ll be approaching graduation and close to entering “the real world”. At university, our lives are constantly evolving, we are learning every day, and it’s completely normal for our priorities to change.
I personally find that my priorities have changed considerably since my first year
Admittedly, I’ve never been great at planning ahead, so others might be better at finding New Year’s resolutions that will still be relevant to them in a year’s time. I personally find that my priorities have changed considerably since my first year. New Year’s resolutions wouldn’t necessarily be relevant by autumn, and that’s if you’ve even managed to keep them.
In short, one-term resolutions are a lot easier to keep. For example, this term, I’ve decided to make an effort to cook my own meals, a couple of days a week, and bring leftovers to campus instead of relying on Pieminister and Pret for nourishment. It’d be hard to resolve to do this all year, however: what I can achieve while at home, in Exeter, studying, working, or travelling, will differ.
I’m very aware that this is in no way an innovative idea. For example, Virginia Woolf’s oft-quoted New Year’s diary entry reads: “Here are my resolutions for the next 3 months; the next lap of the year.” Her resolutions are almost as exemplary: “To be free & kindly with myself, not goading it to parties: to sit rather privately reading in the studio,” for instance, is a good way to live your life. And while Woolf’s death may make her a somewhat questionable role model, she may have been onto something with the resolutions (not to mention with her incredible legacy of literary works).
twelve months isn’t necessarily a realistic amount of time
Termly resolutions have meant that I have been able to be more specific in what I wanted to work on. If I don’t respect them, that’s okay: I can get to the root of the problem and change what I do before getting to the end of the year and realising that I had forgotten my resolutions before February had started, and I hadn’t worked on what I wanted to work on.
And sure, there are big dreams that don’t happen in just twelve weeks. However, twelve months isn’t necessarily a realistic amount of time either: what if you need several years to achieve them? Rather, a short term can help improve something specific and get us closer to long-term goals.
And if you don’t manage to achieve your termly resolutions, that’s okay: you wouldn’t have achieved your New Year’s resolutions either.