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The start of a new year means millions of Americans will begin to write down their goals and aspirations for the upcoming year. Unfortunately, the majority of people never accomplish those resolutions – with two-thirds abandoning them within the first month. Yet, interestingly enough, the majority of people will still write those same pledges for years to come.
One of the benefits of a New Year’s resolution is reflecting on what’s happened and setting goals based on those observations.
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When we look back at 2021, there are many key events that defined the year – from everything pandemic related, to the release of the Pandora Papers, the introduction of Meta (from Facebook), billionaires flying into space and the #FreeBritney movement.
There’s a lot we can learn from this past year. As a college president and a parent, I try to encourage my children and students to always reflect on the previous year, and to start writing their resolutions based on lessons they’ve learned. Goals for healthy eating, exercising and saving money are important. But, there are everyday practices that should be included in one’s New Year’s resolutions that could change our communities for the better.
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Here are five takeaways from this year that can help young adults write their New Year’s resolutions for 2022.
1. Learn to adapt and be comfortable with change. We’re still living in the midst of a pandemic. For the past two years, the Merriam-Webster dictionary selected words of the year dealing with COVID – pandemic in 2020 and vaccine in 2021. Let’s face it, many of us wish to put these words behind us. However, with the introduction of the Delta variant and now Omicron, we’re not sure when it will be over.
For college students looking toward the new year, it’s a reminder that flexibility and adaptability will still be essential in 2022. Have goals and expectations, but realize that things could change at any moment. Return to college in the spring with this type of mindset. And, remember that adaptability and flexibility are important skills that will also translate into the workplace.
2. Focus on your mental health. Thanks to many professional athletes (from Naomi Osaka withdrawing from the French Open to Simone Biles pulling out of the individual all-around gymnastics events at the Olympics), the importance of mental health is coming to the forefront. And, for college students, it’s critical. Close to 44% of college students this year reported symptoms of depression and anxiety. Yet, 75% of college students are reluctant to get help according to the Mayo Clinic.
Prioritizing your mental health in the new year is important. Learn to recognize when you are starting to feel stressed out and anxious. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or talk to someone about how to cope. It’s not a sign of weakness. Find a hobby that reduces stress and plan for times to rest.
3. Keep fighting for racial equality. This year several high-profile cases involving racial injustices made it to the courtroom. Derek Chauvin was sentenced for the murder of George Floyd, and three men were charged in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. For many college campuses, these tragic events shifted a focus on what can be done to fight racial injustices – and made many aware of what was not being done.
Continue to be a part of the discussions on your college campus or in your communities on how you can fight against racial injustices. Participate in events that create an awareness of injustices or inequalities that are going on in our nation. Start to engage in conversations with people who come from different backgrounds than yours and be willing to listen to their concerns.
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4. Strive for civility and unity. This year our nation experienced a change in presidential leadership, with President Joe Biden becoming our 46th president. In his first presidential address, Biden called for unity. This followed a dark time in our history with the Capitol riot on January 6. Politics aside, one takeaway from this year is the importance of engaging in civil discourse.
Start with participating in a discussion with someone you disagree with. This will teach you how to approach difficult conversations and how to be respectful toward that individual. View each discourse as a way to learn about someone else’s opinion. You can play a major role in the future of America by getting involved in politics at the local level. Learn everything you can about your local government and find ways to serve your community.
5. Times are tough, but continue to pursue your dreams. From global supply chain issues to Americans grappling with the highest inflation rate since 1990, the year may have seemed a bit disheartening. A recent report showed that 46% of Generation Z (13 to 24 years old) said the pandemic has made it harder for them to pursue education or career goals. America has been through difficult times, but we will get through this.
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Know there will be challenges to face, but you have to keep moving forward. One thing we can learn from this summer’s Olympics is that every journey is arduous – it requires commitment and dedication – but dreams can be achieved if you push through the challenges. The process of getting there also teaches us to be resilient. Continue to write down your goals for the year and do everything you can to accomplish them.
It’s hard to tell what 2022 will hold. Over the past year, we’ve learned the importance of valuing those around us. While the circumstances around you may disrupt the timing of your goals and dreams, don’t lose sight of what you want to accomplish. And, if anything, strive to find ways to make a difference in your community.