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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Letters from Mallory Hawkins

This is your time to shine! We are only three weeks into January and already you have had two perfect opportunities to put your goal-setting skills to work — the New Year and the beginning of a new semester. You took advantage of these opportunities to set goals that are not to be taken lightly; you left the simple tasks of waking up a little earlier or calling home a little more often to those who don’t need drastic change in their lives. You, on the other hand, are hoping this year brings new things for you. In accordance, you have set out to lose the weight of a small child or to earn a 4.0 that will boost your 3.1 cumulative GPA.

While your optimism is endearing, it is also unrealistic. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but just like every year that preceded it, 2011 is not going to be a year of big change for you. Sadly, the new year does not equate to a new you.   

Don’t believe me? Let me ask you, then, what did you do after the rager you went to on Saturday? If I had one guess, I would assume it involved eating. If you live on-campus, I put my money on a Highland breakfast burrito, and if you live off-campus you probably indulged in a fourth meal from Taco Bell or somewhere equally nutritious.

Unfortunately for you, there are many options when it comes to drunken snacks, and even though you committed to vodka shots for the night as a means of cutting out the calories that come with beer, your efforts fell short when you went out to eat. At this rate, the only six-pack you’ll have is the beer in your fridge.

The temptations of college are ever present on the academic front as well. It is easy to say you want to do well this semester, but making it happen is another story. With CSI marathons on Spike TV (my guilty pleasure) and beautiful 70-degree weather in the middle of January, there are plenty of distractions to prevent you from attending class on the regular.

Although skipping class may not harm your grade in classes where attendance isn’t recorded, you are still missing out on a day of material that may appear on an exam. On a related note, vowing to cram for an exam in order to get an A is a much different story than setting out to actually learn the material. Only a successful student would know the difference, though.

So rather than pretending to be something you’re not — a health guru or a well-accomplished student — just be honest with yourself. Admit that losing 15 pounds by spring break is a lofty goal that might not be worth the sacrifice of good food and good times, or that getting a 4.0 is not the sole indicator of a quality college experience.  

Furthermore, if you’re anything like me, you like to take advantage of every opportunity that allows you to feel good about yourself. So why then, are you setting goals that are only going to make you feel terrible when you cannot accomplish them? Quite frankly, it does not make sense. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself and instead set realistic goals that will bring you satisfaction and encouragement to continue to improve.

For example, instead of pledging to lose 15 pounds, simply vow to maintain your weight. Not only will you avoid the stress that comes with trying to lose weight; you get to feel so accomplished if you happen to lose a pound or two.

As for school stuff, set goals that are going to encourage habits of a good student. Forget about the 4.0 and worry about going to class and engaging in discussion. Ask questions and go to office hours. Chances are you’re going to feel better about yourself for actually knowing the material and experiencing a class than if you had just gone through the motions to get an A.

You might consider my approach a little lazy, but I prefer the term “”realistic.””


— Mal Hawkins is a communication senior. She can be reached at

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