Concrete goals don’t exist in my dictionary. The strict structure of habits that confine me into repetitive tasks often feel suffocating and meaningless in contrast to flexibility. If I design a specific timetable for myself, with color-coded blocks for work, meals and entertainment, I glance at it once and proceed to do things my way. However, a new year signifies the start of progress, or at least variation, and I shouldn’t act stubborn for stubborn’s sake. For this reason, I present my stab at self-improvement for the year of 2023 with a poor man’s version of a New Year’s Resolution.
1. Exercise Two to Three Times a Week
I shall unroll my dusty, unloved yoga mat and work out for half an hour. Crunches, sit-ups, star jumps, the whole shebang. Follow a Chloe Ting regimen and feel the burn if I possess the energy. Freestyle and stretch if school completely drained me for the day. See the difference catalogued on my body in a few months—leaner figure, greater metabolism, and a bright smile as a cherry on top.
Lift my head from the pillow, stand up, straighten my posture. Anything more than camping seven hours straight in bed under a cocoon of comfort and avoidance. Stare at the dusty, unloved yoga mat (which qualifies as movement, by the way) and realize that I don’t care that much about my figure. I just don’t want to groan in elderly soreness at the age of 20. Proceed to pull open my laptop and binge a show, that way at least my eyes will get a workout in.
Read 10 pages of a book every day. The neat pile of novels I couldn’t help but buy sits nicely by the bed like a child awaiting pickup. If I replace pre-sleep screen scrolling with a book, I bet I can fall asleep more easily and finally get that sense of satisfaction from making it through the book pile. Otherwise, read in the morning or between classes. Remind myself how literature excites me.
2.5 Read More Variety
Let’s not kid myself here and pretend I can let go of reading fanfiction. Taking three English classes a semester means books upon books upon critical readings upon short stories. Most of them break my brain, some of them bore it. As long as I pull up the news every now and then and get through a book occasionally, I’ll survive. Fanfiction proves a lot more fun anyway, if the writing shines.
3. Write the Stories Trapped in Me
Start simple and easy. Write 250 words of a story of my choosing and try not to start a new one. Gradually move up to 500 if time permits and I get accustomed to the routine. Writing comes as the best way to become a writer. If I don’t put words down, I’ll never get anywhere. Half a year later, I’ll surprise myself with the new-found depth in my prose and simultaneously cringe from how much it still needs to grow.
3.5 Don’t Abandon the Stories Trapped in Me
See the list of ideas about dystopian societies and assorted lines hidden in the Notes app on my phone? They don’t disappear if I don’t look at them. Open the word doc with 10 pages of overly flowery language I wrote… some time ago and scanned through two weeks ago. Add a sentence or two. Anticipate lighting striking in my mind, hopefully in the near future.
4. Engage with My Classmates
Behind every intellectual quip in class likely lies a kind person. They won’t mind chatting about a favorite book or the latest hit show (White Lotus played out really great, right?). They might even run or participate in a club with my specific interests and invite me to join. Speaking to more people will never be easy, but not speaking won’t help my case at all. The awkwardness and redness I feel in my face will fade with enough time.
4.5 Awkwardly Say Hello to My Classmates
Walk into the classroom, say hello. Basic greeting, basic way to acknowledge both my own and others’ presence. While it might not come as a sign of disrespect to just walk in, sit down and rifle through your bag for a nonexistent object to fill the void, someone could use the conversation. Professor definitely could, considering how they try to keep their smile bright in the face of grouchy, tired students. In any case, it paves the way for resolution number four to take place.
5. Explore Berkeley (and San Francisco)
Berkeley contains way more than the university, but I must venture out more often to discover all the things it holds. Run through my list of under-tried cuisines—Indian, Mexican, Mediterranean. Tear through authentic tacos and burritos I never had the chance to try during high school in Connecticut, and through that, achieve a high enough spice tolerance to venture into uncharted chilli territories. Check out cutesy boutiques that sell unique pins to add to my growing bag strap pin collection. Laugh because I will spend my days well.
5.5 Explore Berkeley (and San Francisco) if My Roommate’s Up for It Too
Ask my roommate when she’s free to go someplace farther away. Realize our schedules and workloads clash so we don’t find a good time until a month later. Wake up a little too late for a full day out because we spent the previous night discussing if Chris Pine would make a good TV lead till 3 a.m. Head out for a late lunch to a new spot in West Berkeley. Enjoy ourselves because our bellies no longer growl in hunger.
Resolutions only function effectively if they don’t make me feel terrible about myself. Most of the time they exist to prove a point to other people. Remember that it would take a miracle for everything to fall exactly according to my plans. Take the steps I need to take or stay in bed if that makes me feel happy. And, despite what Yoda says, in my world, there is some try.
6.6 Forget This Exists
While I wholeheartedly support and intend to uphold resolution number six, I also don’t tend to prefer following any set rules or plans. I could certainly benefit from them, which explains why this list exists, but I see no need to set anything in stone. Why write a New Year’s Resolution if I don’t care for them? Just to ponder about what matters to me and how I want to improve, but most importantly, to remind myself that actions flex and bend. I can make no plans, but I can also try something new and make one.