UTM’s New Year’s resolutions: a student guide to a successful 2024
Dive deep into what UTM students are hoping for in the new year.

The end of 2023 marks the end of another chapter. A year experienced differently by all of us. Some achieved milestones while others remained stagnant. Like other years, we all went into January with a long list of motivating resolutions. False promises that started to fade a few months in 2023 somehow got pushed to 2024. As December grew closer, the exhaustion of the previous months waned, and the holidays excused any behavior. The new year became heavy with its duty of birthing a more productive individual. Somehow, we all made ourselves believe that as soon as that clock hit midnight on New Year’s, the serotonin, motivation, and change would bring itself on. And for most of us, it did. The gyms were once again packed, dry January was in full swing, and your fridge was full of fruits and vegetables. But how can we make these habits stick through to February?

Reward and Acknowledgement 

The first strategy to make habits stick is through reward and acknowledgement. Acknowledge what you achieved last year. You may have failed at a lot of things but focus on the achievements. What was something that made you proud? 

Daniel Arceo, a fifth-year geographical information systems major and math and English double minor student, words it perfectly. “I think people often define achievements through comparing themselves with others—and honestly, sometimes getting up in the morning and getting your foot out the door and into class is something you should be proud of yourself for.” 

Others had similar achievements they were proud of. Areeb Anwar, a third-year economics major, states that he was most proud of “juggling six courses with success while attending to primary relationships, ventures, and self-learning.” Anwar highlights the idea of self-learning and self-growth, which are not only achieved through accomplishments, but also failure, reminding everyone that we are emotional, self-aware, and that certain things may work for some while others won’t. 

Set Your Goals 

Setting goals can be challenging. This is where self-awareness comes into play. Set goals that are attainable and not something far from your ability, as they will exhaust you and make you feel bad for not achieving them. Be realistic with yourself. These are your goals. You don’t have to compare yourself to every 5:30 a.m. fitness influencer you see on social media. 

Lovelle Pong, a fifth-year forensic biology specialist and psychology minor, explains, “It is incredibly important to consistently set goals to evolve as circumstances shift throughout each year, regardless of how satisfied we feel with our life now. When brainstorming my goals for the year, I focus on making them flexible and realistic to avoid setting myself up for failure. This year, my four main goals currently centred on improvements in health, rekindling my passion for hobbies, better productivity, and stepping outside of my comfort zone.” Goals should eventually turn into habits and become a part of your lifestyle. 

Staying Consistent 

Adding anything into your routine will be difficult since your current habits (the not-so-great ones) are ingrained. Habit stacking is a great way to go about making these positive lifestyle changes. Habit stacking is a form of pairing your new desired change with an existing part of your routine. For example, if every single day you make yourself a cup of coffee, pair that with reading or going over your notes from the previous day. As an Everyday Health article explains, habit stacking works because it’s based on the premise that humans tend to crave and act according to routines we get into. 

Another great way to stay consistent is actively making time for new habits. Pong states, “For entirely new habits, I hope to incorporate working out into my weekly routine and actively [make] time for hobbies such as baking and photography. To adopt these habits in the new year, I aim to also be more efficient with tasks through time blocking and prioritization. I currently use organization apps such as Todo Mate, Google Calendar, and Notion to help with this.” 

A Bigger Purpose

You can only stay motivated and disciplined if you find a bigger reason to push you to do better. When motivation is lacking, discipline comes into play, and when they’re both gone, that’s when drive and self-reflection push you to become the individual you strive to be. 

When asked what inspired her to do better this new year, Pong says, “Although professional and academic achievements are meaningful, I want to also be proud of who I am as a whole and feel deserving of each accomplishment I earn. After experiencing the highs and lows of undergrad, the significance of prioritizing my own health and independence is especially clear to me now more than ever.” 

Don’t get lost in accomplishments and goals. Remember the bigger picture. What are you doing this for? Remember that you are who you are because of your failures and achievements. Make this the year where you reflect on self-learning as an individual and continue to grow no matter what this year brings. You got this!     

Associate Features Editor (Volume 50) — Rafiqa is a recent graduate from the Professional Writing and Communication program in which she wrote her first novel The Custard Apple Tree, an ode to her grandmother who survived the 1947 India-Pakistan Partition. Drawing on her background as an author specializing in historical fiction and a love for storytelling, Rafiqa hopes to bring forward compelling articles challenging Western narratives and societal stigmas and bridging a pathway for diversity. She hopes her experience at The Medium will be a platform for her to bring unheard and oppressed voices to be heard through human interest stories and other interesting articles!


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