New year, new me, just wait, you’ll see

Megan Angelo

For the past two and a half weeks, Americans have been organizing messy desks, packing gyms and snatching up nicotine patches by the box. With just 17 days of the new year behind us, many are still adhering to the vows (no, really, we mean it this year) they made to ring in 2003.

It’s undeniable that there’s something about the turning of the calendar that inspires us to make a fresh start. There is nothing new, however, about the tradition of determinedly getting down to the things that nag us from the lazy summer to the holiday rush.

Over 4,000 years ago, the Babylonians came up with the idea of resolving unfinished business at the start of the new year, although they celebrated it in March, not January. Lacking TiVo manuals to decipher and family rooms to recarpet, the Babylonians settled for returning the farm equipment they had borrowed from their neighbors.

The custom stuck — though the resolutions usually don’t. ABC News reported that 35 percent of Americans made New Year’s resolutions in 1998, but less than a third of them were still following through in December.

Good intentions, strict plans and valiant efforts are defeated annually by waning motivation, rule-bending and forgetfulness. Americans are generally comfortable with this cycle. After all, the biggest reason for letting New Year’s resolutions go by the wayside is a simple lack of time — with each day becoming busier than the one before it, how can we expect to get done this year what we couldn’t fit into the last?

So it may seem that enforcing New Year’s resolutions is a hapless goal. But for all the Villanovans who are still up for giving self-improvement a try in 2003, here are the resolutions that all of us should be making.

Stop procrastinating. The average college course calls for two hours of work outside of class for every hour spent in class. Catching six “A-Team” reruns in a row is hardly worth the uneasiness you’ll feel when your professor gives you that “you-didn’t-read-it-did-you” look. No one enjoys trying to absorb 800 pages of material the night before the midterm, so try actually following the syllabus this semester.

Get in shape. With two on-campus fitness centers (in Stanford and Farley halls) and plenty of intramural spring sports, you have no excuse. Spring break is just around the corner and, besides, how else can you really justify the eight pairs of jeans you bought on impulse at the post-holiday, red-tag blowouts?

Give back. There’s never a lack of opportunities to contribute at Villanova, regardless of how much time you have or what kind of activities you like. Campus Ministry runs countless community service programs, including Habitat and Mission break trips, which will travel to locations in the southern United States as well as Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru this year.

Get into the news. It’s often easy and comfortable to forget that the world extends well beyond our campus. But 2003 will unquestionably prove to be a year in which keeping up with current events is crucial — especially for people our age. War, genetically engineered infants, bioterrorism and a struggling economy are all realities that will ultimately become our responsibilities. Heightened awareness is the best tool available for handling them.

Easy, right? Well, only time will tell. But if you find your New Year’s resolutions crumbling by Valentine’s Day, try not to feel like a failure. You certainly won’t be alone.

Just remember the beautiful part of the tradition: there’s always next year.