Paris Bienert: Stick to your start-of-the-semester optimism

Drink more water, eat healthier, go to the gym more and study more.

These are just a few of the goals I set for myself this semester. A more extensive list would include further challenging feats, such as sleeping at least seven hours every night and earning straight “A’s.”

After a week and a half of classes, I’m doing fairly well at living up to my goals. But judging from past experience, I know I should expect to see these goals fly out the window in the upcoming weeks.

It seems like everybody comes back to school with newfound gusto after weeks of relaxing over winter break. You feel like you could take on the world and accomplish anything. Living up to goals and having a happy and healthy semester seems like a piece of cake…until it isn’t. After a couple weeks pass and the grind of the semester sets in, resolutions fall by the wayside.

Is there anyone who is actually able to commit and follow through on his or her goals for an entire semester? If such people do exist, I beg them to share their secrets with the rest of us pathetic flakes. In the meantime, I’ll be racking my brain for the answer – that magical solution to complacency.

Maybe the way to be most successful with new semester goals is by accepting that it is impossible to be perfect.

See, if I followed through with all of my goals this semester, I would be a happy, well-rested, straight-A student with a rockin’ bod and plenty of spare time for community service and pleasure reading.

In other words, I would be living a reality practically impossible for college students.

Self-improvement is not an all-or-nothing kind of game. It is easy to think, “I already ate a ton of chips, so why bother going to the gym?” or “I’m not going to get a good grade anyway, so why not go out instead of study?” But just because you fall through on one goal or momentarily slip up, doesn’t mean you should lose sight of them altogether.

I am not suggesting we should let our goals fall by the wayside, because setting standards and expectations helps us improve who we are. All I am suggesting is this: We shouldn’t lose all hope just because we can’t live up to the lofty and unrealistic expectations we set.

So this semester, rather than kicking yourself because you don’t get straight “A’s,” keep the image you have created of the “perfect you” and try a little bit every day to become more like that person.

Paris Bienert, a sophomore majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet columnist.

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