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Arthur Christory / Gavel Media

Doing Things for Enjoyment

The gym is overcrowded, there are more people in the salad line at Mac, and people have returned to campus with new hair, new style, or new energy. It’s the end of January, and we are in the season of New Year’s resolutions. According to a study referenced by GQ, about two-thirds of people give up on their New Year’s resolutions by the end of the month. As we approach February, it is the climatic time period of resolutions either becoming habits, with experts arguing over them taking 21 or 66 days to form, or becoming forgotten about by the time spring rolls around. 

As we confront the difficulties of maintaining New Year’s resolutions, new questions arise: What kinds of resolutions do we typically choose? Which resolutions lead their way to habits, and which get lost in simply being ideals? This year, the most popular resolutions, according to Statistica, were to exercise more, eat healthier, and lose weight, consecutively. It’s not surprising that resolutions typically fail due to lack of motivation and grit; according to Inside Out Mastery, most people who eventually succeed with their resolutions either have recurring slip-ups in the first two years, or quit and return to the same goal later on when they are better prepared to attack it. The best and most successful New Year’s resolutions are those that are formed in a motivated, with a deeper purpose in the steps behind this goal. Furthermore, resolutions that can be traced back to adding joy to one’s life are more successful than those that aim to take away things or times of enjoyment. For example, a res walk with friends as opposed to Crossfit alone may work towards a larger goal of being more in shape while adding joy to an everyday routine. 

Beyond New Year’s resolutions, focusing on adding things of enjoyment has been proven to be beneficial for mental health. According to Head to Health, research has shown that people with hobbies are less likely to suffer from stress, low mood, and depression. As we engage in a time of adding more —more working-out, more healthy food, more tasks, more reorganization skills — a new year also reminds us of the importance of doing things we simply enjoy, despite their connection to a goal. In fact, having time devoted to doing something because you want to, rather than because you have to, is essential to maintaining control over your life. By having an outlet that you enjoy without it being essential, without it being forced unnaturally into your life, you’re more likely to take the time to reflect on the things you actually like to do. The bottom line is, it becomes easier to appreciate your day-to-day schedule and monotonous to-do list if there is an incentive of enjoyment. The real key is finding the link between elements to work on, resolutions, and things you already enjoy. It is in this shared space that the most successful resolutions are born, and strong habits can be formed.

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