July 24, 2021

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What Do You Hope for Most in 2021?

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Students in U.S. high schools can get free digital access to The New York Times until Sept. 1, 2021.

We’re at the start of a new year; so far, though, it doesn’t seem all that much different than the last one.

Are you optimistic about the start of 2021? What changes do you hope for this year?

In “This Year, Try Downsizing Your Resolutions,” Christina Caron writes about making New Year’s resolutions that are both satisfying and doable. Have you made any resolutions yet? If not, perhaps you want to consider setting some goals right now.

Ms. Caron writes:

After the unpredictable, torrid year we’ve had, the idea of making New Year’s resolutions for 2021 might seem a tad overwhelming.

“I am keeping the bar so low,” the comedian Robyn Schall joked during an interview with The New York Times this month.

“No goals,” she said, laughing. “Just one day at a time.”

Schall, 36, became internet-famous in November after she posted a video on TikTok about her unfulfilled resolutions from last December, a list she read aloud while “half-crying, half-laughing” with a glass of wine in hand.

“Travel more,” she wrote. (She has been sequestered in “the tiniest of tiny” studio apartments in Manhattan.) “Make more money.” (Schall has been unemployed since March.) “Be more social.” (Nope.) “Spend more time with my grandma.” (Both of her grandmothers died this year.)

Even if you’re the type of person who is put off by New Year’s resolutions, experts say that in 2021 — or any year, really — writing out one or two specific, small and attainable goals can help develop confidence and a sense of pride, improving your well-being.

And right now we could all use a little more positivity in our lives.

Students, read the entire article, then consider these questions:

  • The article suggests that writing down one or two small goals can be a way to boost self-confidence and develop a sense of pride. Have you ever tried that? What one or two goals would you set this year?

  • What do you think about the rest of the advice in the article? It recommends that you think about your motivations; pick bite-size goals that are actually achievable; make a plan, not a resolution; shorten your list and write it down; and cut yourself some slack. Does it all sound like good advice to you? Do you think you’ll follow any of it?

  • Ms. Caron suggests that we could all use a little more positivity in our lives these days. To what degree do you agree that setting small, attainable goals can be helpful, especially during dark times?

  • The article distinguishes between making a resolution and having a plan. What’s the difference in your opinion? Do you think the distinction is an important one? How good are you at setting goals? How good are you at making plans to achieve your goals, whether small or large? How good are you at sticking to your plans?

  • The last piece of advice in the article is to cut yourself some slack. Do you ever put too much pressure on yourself when you don’t accomplish your goals as quickly as you would have liked? Are you good at celebrating even the small progress that you make along the way?


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Students 13 and older in the United States and the United Kingdom, and 16 and older elsewhere, are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.

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