Student Life

Slice of Life: To-Do: Smell a rose

Rethinking what it means to set goals for ourselves

From late December to early January, the internet is riddled with memes generally belonging to four categories: empty bank accounts, being drunk from Dec. 24 to Jan. 2, cringey family stories, and, my personal favorite, all the ‘new year, new me’ bullshit. As if overriding our digestive systems with champagne and Jameson somehow flushes out all the toxicity from the previous year, leaving us with a blank-slate liver to tackle the new year with.

Honestly, New Year’s resolutions are pretty dumb. You can search the crap out of it: in January 2013, Forbes reported that only 8 per cent of people achieve their New Year’s resolutions, and in January 2017, Business Insider reported that 80 per cent of resolutions fail by the second week of February. But why? Why is it so difficult to set a goal—a singular goal—and follow through with it?

About a year ago, The New York Times listed tips for making and keeping resolutions. Just a few days ago, The Guardian published an article that touched on similar points: make a personal plan, join a support community, focus on one goal at a time, find what motivates you, externalize your goals, etc. All good advice, sure, but these fluff articles still have a hollow ring to them.

There are so many issues with New Year’s resolutions (not the inherent concept of goal-setting), but mainly it’s the localization of goal-setting to one check-point window in the year and the pressure to make that window. Realistically, we change so much throughout the year, and it’s important to recognize how your goals evolve with you. On top of the pressure to make a New Year’s resolution, there’s also pressure to make your resolution fit into a cutback-box. For most, resolutions consist of goals like: spend less money, go out less, watch less Netflix, start going to [insert physical activity], read that book, eat less junk, pay off debt, etc.

But what if your resolution was stuff you should do more of? Laugh more. Go outside more. Call more friends. Have more dinners at home. Think you’d have an easier time sticking to those resolutions? Melbourne-based queer artist @frances_cannon posted “Frances Cannon’s Big 2019 List” on Jan. 2, and it may surprise you in all the best ways. Cannon lists goals such as: take a breath, let go of someone who hurt you, apply for something that scares you, tell a really good joke, call someone you haven’t called in a while, smell a rose and many more goals, both small and large. It’s time we start rethinking the wide range of what goals can be for each individual, and accepting that self love is both loving ourselves for accomplishing those goals, and loving ourselves for accepting when we simply cannot.

Feature graphic by @spooky_soda


Taking on 2013 with a vengeance

Graphic by Jennifer Kwan

The clock struck midnight, the confetti polluted the streets, the fireworks popped and crackled, and now that the holidays are over you’re ready to turn your life around. It’s a new year, a fresh start, and you’re going into it bright-eyed. The year 2012 was supposed to be better than 2011, and obviously 2013 will be better than 2012, right?

It’s almost as if the whole world just decides to do a major clean up at the start of each year and everything is reset. Doesn’t that sound ridiculous? That’s because it is.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it is great that people want to set goals, but there are a lot of common resolutions that set the bar a little too high and are just begging for failure.

“I believe that the resolutions we make are only there to comfort us for the time being,” said Concordia Student Jessica Palmieri. She doesn’t make resolutions because she feels like “slapping a label” on something makes it more difficult to do.

The all too common weight loss and gym resolution is probably one of the most popular. Dieting programs step up their advertising and gyms are filled to the brink in the days following Jan. 1. They’ve been dubbed the “resolutioners,” with gyms seeing an increase of almost 100 per cent, according to CBC and the Wall Street Journal. This only lasts a few weeks though. Time magazine states that things usually go back to normal in February, with 60 per cent of the memberships bought gone down the drain.

Other popular resolutions are to quit smoking, drastically change a diet and to become more knowledgeable about something. Realistically, though, you cannot just say that you’re going to learn Italian if you’ve never spoken a word or that you’re going to quit smoking just like that if you smoke a pack a day.

The way we formulate our resolutions simply sets us up for failure. As a recent study done at the University of Scranton and published in the Journal of Psychology shows, only eight per cent of Americans who make resolutions are actually successful in achieving them. Clearly not the percentage most want to see.

Resolutions are based on the willpower of the individual and some experts say your brain just cannot handle the stress of such sudden changes. As a Stanford University experiment explains, your prefrontal cortex is what handles your willpower. Willpower needs to be built up and trained. The best way to train for things is to take baby steps. This can also be applied to setting goals.

The worst thing that you can do is decide out of the blue that you’re giving up chocolate. An hour later, you’ll find yourself surrounded by gold and brown Ferrero Rocher wrappers with your cats pawing at them and judging you. Then you’ll hate yourself.

The issue is that we set high goals for ourselves that aren’t alway manageable and once we fail we find ourselves terribly discouraged. That’s why I think you need to set small goals at first and then continue to work up to more drastic changes. The light at the end of the tunnel needs to be visible, and you need to make sure it isn’t a train coming to hit you head on.

There are also resolutions that just don’t make much sense to me, specifically when it comes to habits we’ve had for a very long time. Charles Duhigg, New York Times writer and author of “The Power of Habit,” explains in his book that habits are compulsions, things that we’ve been doing for so long that we don’t even realize it anymore. A lot of work goes into breaking a habit, and it goes much deeper than we think.

I’m not trying to put anyone down for trying to improve his or her life, however, I think we should be setting goals for ourselves all year long and constantly taking little steps to improving ourselves. Now, if you’d excuse me, I have some chocolate to give away.


Ho’ Ho’ Holiday Harmonies

In an attempt to tide you over to the new year, we’ve compiled a list of musical events you should be sure to check out if you’re kickin’ around Montreal for the holidays. While the full list is long, and the selection process difficult, we’re confident that we’ve selected something for everyone.
If you long for the days when doo-wop, funk and soul ruled the airwaves, then you’re in luck this month. The Rialto (5723 Parc Ave.) is hosting Motown Christmas on Dec. 14 and features the American-born and Canadian-rasied ‘70s soul singer Alma Faye Brooks and La Gioventu Band. Famous for her funky, horn-heavy 1977 hit “Stop, I Don’t Need No Sypmathy,” Brooks and La Gioventu Band guarantee to take audience members on a boogey-woogey sleigh-ride back in time. At $40 a pop, tickets are a little expensive by students’ standards, but it’s definitely worth it if you’re looking for something a little different this holiday season.
Though this isn’t really a music event in that it’s not a band performing a concert, it’s still something that I think every musicphile and radiophile should see in their lifetime. Stuart McLean, the host of CBC’s hit radio show The Vinyl Cafe, is presenting The Vinyl Cafe Christmas at Théâtre Maisonneuve, Place Des Arts (175 Sainte-Catherine St. W.) on Dec. 19. McLean’s show tells the story of Dave, a secondhand record store owner, and his family and friends and features live and recorded musical performances by both unknown and well-known Canadian musicians. Tickets range from $51-$56, but it’s the type of show you’ll be able to convince your older family members to pay for. After all, it is the season of giving, right?
If free is more your price range, then some of the most festive events in Montreal this month are right up your alley. The Choralies of Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel (400 Saint Paul St. E.) presents hymns, carols and historic vignettes by six different choirs to get you into the holiday spirit. Every Saturday and Sunday this month until Dec. 18 you can catch a different choir free of charge. Performances take place at 1:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.
If you’re looking for a festive way to ring in the New Year, head on down to Place Jacques-Cartier at the Quays of the Old Port for their New Year’s Eve Grand Bal. Alain François brings traditional folk tunes to the Creemore Stage before and after the The Old Port’s musical fireworks at midnight, and Montreal quartet Raffy.
Other notable musical events worth checking out include Malajube and The Besnard Lakes at Metropolis (59 Ste-Catherine St. E.) on Dec. 14, Cancer Bats present Bat Sabbath at Foufounes Electriques (87 Ste-Catherine St. E.) on Dec. 16, Rusty Waters and the Broken Troubadours at Piranha Bar (680 Ste-Catherine St. W.) also on Dec. 16, and St. Vincent at Theatre Corona (2490 Notre-Dame St. W.) and Karkwa at Metropolis (59 Ste-Catherine St. E.) on Dec. 17.
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