Emmaus students, teachers reflect on New Year’s resolutions


Image courtesy of Canva.

Belle Lees, Former Deputy News Editor

According to Runner’s World, Jan. 19 is the day most people will quit their New Year’s resolutions. This information comes from a 2019 report  from Strava, a social fitness network, that used data from athletes around the world to look at activity trends. 

With this date in mind, Emmaus students and teachers reflect on how their New Year’s resolutions are going so far this year. 

Freshman Caroline Shutts’ resolution is to “focus more on the present and less on the future.” Since it is more training her mind to think a certain way rather than just something that can be accomplished once a day and crossed off a to-do list, she has a harder time measuring her success. However, Shutts feels she has been fairly successful overall, though she admits there is still room for improvement. 

Beth Stoudt, a math and computer science teacher, vows to take better care of herself and put her health first this year. To achieve this, she wants to spend more time walking on her treadmill and pay more attention to what she eats. 

Like Shutts, she also feels that her resolution is going well.

“I think I’ve been doing decent,” Stoudt says. “It might not be walking all the time, but I’ve been doing an activity, which is better than just sitting on the chair. I’m either doing my virtual gym or [walking on] my treadmill or just dancing [with] Zumba…[and] Tuesday night is my yoga night.

“I’m going to say the last week and half has been really good as far as logging my food and watching what I’m eating,” she says.

John Gallagher, a social studies teacher, wants to journal every day and is pleased with his progress. 

“It’s going fine,” Gallagher says. “Quite well as a matter of fact…I think I missed Thursday last week [though]. The stuff in Washington D.C. really messed me up. I was spending what was normally my news watching time in the morning journaling, but I missed it on Thursday.

 “But that’s all right, you know how I feel about that: every day is a New Year’s Day,” Gallagher reports. “So, I just started again Friday. That’s it. I’m not really upset about that, that’s just the way it goes. You have these [ups and downs], so once you hit that [down], you just go back up. That’s all there is to it.”

Though their resolutions are going well, Shutts, Stoudt, and Gallagher have faced some challenges in achieving their goals.

For Shutts, her biggest challenge is remembering to do her resolution. Given that her resolution requires paying constant attention to her thoughts to train them to focus on enjoying the present moment rather than worrying about the future, it’s not surprising that there are moments Shutts forgets about her resolution.

Stoudt’s greatest challenge is finding the time to complete her resolution, and she anticipates this will become even more difficult during hybrid learning.

“Finding the time [has been the biggest challenge]… I have to adjust [my expectation for what I can accomplish during the school day] and do it outside of the school day because I have too much school work during the school day,” Stoudt reveals. “When we’re at home, it’s easier because I don’t have that extra hour of travel time. So, I have that more time that I’m still up and I’m able to plan or go on the treadmill or do dance or something like that to just get the steps in.”

Gallagher has also struggled with finding the time to complete his resolution.

“There are some things that I want to accomplish every day… I want to try to stop on top of those tasks a little bit better, but sometimes things can get piled on there of other things that come up that I have to do,” Gallagher says. “So, sometimes you can get swamped with the infamous to-do list. Other things can get on there and you can get overwhelmed relatively easily with all the stuff that you think you have to do, so I think my biggest challenge has been prioritizing [my resolution].”

Despite these challenges, Shutts, Stoudt, and Gallagher have persevered, employing a variety of strategies to remind and motivate themselves to keep working on their resolutions.

To stay on top of her resolution, Shutts tries to focus each morning on what she wants to accomplish that day.

“[I] tell myself when I wake up what I’m doing today,” Shutts says. “Just today, not tomorrow or whatever [time in the future]. I just try to stay focused on today.”

Stoudt draws motivation from the fact that she knows not making any changes will have a negative impact on her body.

“The alternative is that my health is suffering, so I have to take care of myself now,” Stoudt explains. “My health got to the point where, if I didn’t make any changes, I was going to go down this path of unhealthiness and it’s going to get worse. That is kind of what is motivating me, because I want to live as long as I can and be healthier.”

Additionally, Stoudt’s husband is also trying to exercise more and eat healthier, which Stoudt has found to be helpful in encouraging her to stick to her resolution.

“He’s making changes, too, so that’s nice that I have someone else who’s also trying to make changes verus it just being me by myself,” Stoudt adds. “[It’s] sort of a support system.”

To remind himself to complete his resolution, Gallagher leaves a pen on his kitchen table so that it’s one of the first things he sees in the morning when he goes downstairs.

“I usually go to bed and make sure my fountain pen is sitting right there [on the kitchen table],” Gallagher says. “So, when I come in to let the dogs out and start the coffee, then feed the dogs, my pen says: ‘Hello, I’m here. Use me.’ So, that’s my reminder, my motivation if you will, that ‘Hey, remember you’ve got something to do.’”

Throughout this process of following their New Year’s resolutions, Shutts, Stoudt, and Gallagher have found many aspects that they enjoy, but also a few that they are not so fond of. 

Shutts appreciates having a goal to work towards, but also worries about forgetting about her resolution.

“It’s nice to have a goal and be trying to accomplish that,” Shutts says. “It’s nice staying more in the present. I’ve really enjoyed that. Probably my least favorite part is making sure I do it. Sometimes it can be a little bit stressful making sure that I remember to do it.”

Stoudt is most excited about knowing that she is making choices to be healthier.

“My favorite part is feeling good about making healthier choices,” Stoudt explains. “I feel good about the fact that I’m taking care of myself. That makes me happy.”

Stoudt’s least favorite part of her resolution is the boredom she experiences while walking on the treadmill. She finds it more enjoyable to walk around her neighborhood and take in the scenery when she can. Even though the distance that she walks outside is the same as the distance she walks on the treadmill, Stoudt finds walking on the treadmill monotonous. To combat this boredom, she often watches Netflix or Amazon Prime. Right now, she is working her way through “A Discovery of Witches” on Amazon Prime. 

Gallagher really appreciates the time journaling gives him to reflect on his day.

“It gives me time to think and get some stuff straight [and] put it out on paper,” Gallagher says. “I typically do it in the morning and look at it either that night or the next day. Then I’ll evaluate how yesterday went and what improvements I can make. It’s really cool.”

However, he has found that the “standard” journaling method does not work as well for him. 

“I’ve not been as good as I could be at examining the day at the end of the day, and, from what I’ve read about the journaling practices, that’s what you’re supposed to do,” Gallagher reports. “I have been picking up the slack the next day, and that seems to work better for me. So the whole doing it twice a day, especially the night time one, hasn’t really been my favorite.”

Based on how this year’s resolutions are going, there are some aspects that Shutts, Stoudt, and Gallagher would change next year.

Since Shutts has had a harder time measuring the success of her goal, next year she wants to try a resolution that is a goal she can accomplish every day instead of trying to train her thoughts.

Next year, Stoudt wants to make sure her goal is very realistic and attainable.

“[I want to] make smaller changes versus trying to do something that is too much,” Stoudt says. “Don’t bite off more than I can chew. Just something that is more attainable versus coming up with this huge goal. Change one small thing versus trying to change a whole big umbrella of things.”  

Gallagher is very happy with how his New Year’s resolution is going so far, so he doesn’t think there is much that he would change. However, he does think it could be exciting to work on a different goal each month. 

“It would be interesting to experiment with the timeline of things,” Gallagher says. “Maybe say, ‘For this month, I’m going to do this,’ and then adjust that.”

After reflecting on their own experiences this year, Stoudt and Gallagher offer some last pieces of advice for anyone else trying to achieve their New Year’s resolutions.

Stoudt advises finding a way to make the goal more enjoyable, such as how she watches Netflix or Amazon Prime while walking on the treadmill. For example, for her goal of walking on the treadmill, she watches Netflix or Amazon Prime to make her time walking less boring. 

“I think if you find something that you like that’s fun, then you’re more apt to do it,” Stoudt explains. 

Gallagher recommends celebrating any progress, even if it wasn’t quite what you hoped you would accomplish. 

“I went into [making my New Year’s resolution] really understanding that it’s a process,” Gallagher shares. “One of the mistakes a lot of people who make resolutions make is it’s just too big a change. You’ve got to get a little bit better every day. If you can do that, then you’re improving. Improvement isn’t measured by ‘Oh, is it an inch of improvement or is it a quarter mile of improvement?’ No, improvement is improvement. As long as you’re going in the right direction, you should be happy with it.”