Top 5 tips for keeping New Year’s resolutions

ASU professor suggests focusing on a narrow goal for the best chance at success

December 17, 2018

Do you make resolutions every New Year's but find by February or March that those goals start to disappear from focus? You’re not alone. U.S. News reports that by the second week of February, some 80 percent of resolutions fail.

According to Sarah Tracy, a Herberger professor in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication at Arizona State University, people often fail because they choose too many resolutions at once. Students exercising If you choose getting fit as a New Year's resolution, be sure to celebrate your small wins to stay motivated. Download Full Image

Plus, succeeding in just one new change can often result in a number of positive effects, said Tracy. For example, waking up early to exercise may encourage healthier sleeping and eating habits later in the day. “The key is to choose something that is feasible, yet stretching,” she said. “(Your goal) should be something that is doable — not a wild dream — but still stretches you to a new place.”

How people consider their new goals has an impact as well. Tracy encourages people to consider their desired goals as commitments and habits, rather than resolutions, and to consider introducing the new goal or commitment at a time when a person’s routine is already disrupted.

“Habits are location- and time-based, so a perfect time to stop a bad habit or begin a new one is when your routine is already out of whack,” she explained.

In the end, even if you find yourself in the company of the failed goal-setters, Tracy advocates to not be too hard on yourself.

“When modifying our behavior, I believe it's really important and valuable to be compassionate and generous with yourself. If you fall off the wagon, just dust yourself off. It may be that your original goal was a bit too stretching or just wrong for you at this chapter in your life, and it's perfectly fine to recalibrate. It's also super important to celebrate small victories and ask others to celebrate with you,” she said.

Top 5 tips for keeping New Year’s resolutions

  1. Choose one important commitment rather than a bunch all at once.

  2. Rather than simply stopping a bad habit, replace it with a new habit.

  3. Celebrate small wins.

  4. Keep flexing your discipline muscle for six weeks if you want the habit to stick.  

  5. Talk to others about your resolution and ask them to check in on your progress to help keep you accountable.

Kirsten Kraklio

Content Strategist and Writer, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


Dreams of being Indiana Jones leads to ASU degree in history, career in military

December 17, 2018

We all know the scene in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” where Indiana Jones narrowly escapes a giant rolling boulder, and at one point or another, many of us could see ourselves going on adventures just like his. Christopher McCune, a 2002 MA in history graduate from Arizona State University's School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, was no different in wanting to be like Harrison Ford’s iconic character, but he didn’t picture himself running from rocks.

“Growing up, I wanted to be Indiana Jones,” McCune said. “It may sound bizarre, but I've known since I was in kindergarten that I would do something associated with history. My interests have evolved over the years, but there's always been something about the idea of change over time, whether it be ecosystems, the human experience, militaries or civilizations, that endlessly fascinates me.” Photo of Christopher McCune Christopher McCune. Download Full Image

His passion drove him through a bachelor’s degree in history from a school in Colorado. Then one day his junior year, he stumbled on a flyer from ASU advertising a public history graduate program.

“I never considered the public history field as a viable option for future opportunities, as it wasn't an academic path that I even knew existed,” McCune said. “The more I researched, the more I knew that this was the direction I needed to take and knew the minute I set foot on the campus that ASU was where I belonged.”

He worked with many great professors during his time as a master’s degree student and developed skills with multiple internships.

“The passion that these individuals brought to their respective fields of study was inspirational and set a high bar of performance as I worked my way through the graduate program,” McCune said. “I also had the opportunity to intern with the Arizona Historical Society, Bureau of Reclamation and the Colorado Historical Society during my time with SHPRS.”

After he graduated from his program, he decided to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps and enlist in the Air Force where he served four years as a systems control technician. Then 10 months after he separated from the Air Force in New Mexico he was hired as the historian for the 58th Special Operations Wing at Kirtland Air Force Base.

“Although having prior military experience was important, my degree was a critical aspect of being hired into the Air Force history program and providing credibility as a professional historian,” McCune said.

He worked with the 58th Special Operations Wing for six and a half years before becoming the historian for the 460th Space Wing at Buckley Air Force Base, and he didn’t stop there.

“Starting in November, I am the historian for the newly activated Special Warfare Training Wing at Lackland Air Force Base, which trains the Air Force's battlefield airmen specialties such as pararescue and tactical air control,” McCune said.

The biggest lesson he has learned during his career as a historian is history cannot be defined as something linear or cyclical.

“The past influences the present and helps shape the future, and more often than not, in the most unpredictable ways,” McCune said. “I love the fact that, every day in this career field, no matter how much you might know, there's always something new to learn.”

Looking back on his time in graduate school, he remembers how his professors and classes directed him toward his success.

“They opened up a diverse range of perspectives and ways of thinking about history, as well as how the public approaches and interacts with it,” McCune said. “I learned how to quickly discern relevant and substantive information and how to ask questions that enabled deeper investigations into the subjects I was writing about.”

Another aspect of his achievements comes from his ability to be flexible. McCune believes all students should keep an open mind when they are looking for work experience.

“That job opening in, say, rural Kentucky may not seem as glamourous as living in a trendy urban area with endless amenities, but it can provide you valuable experience and broaden your perspective in ways you may not have expected,” McCune said. “Both the public and private sector provide multiple opportunities across the country with ways to build your resume and grow that into a career.”

McCune’s career has been a long journey, but when you find something you enjoy doing, the hard work doesn’t seem hard. In fact, many days McCune finds himself having trouble pulling away from the work he’s doing when the day comes to an end.

“I owe so much of the success I've achieved in my career to the history department at ASU and my time in the graduate program there,” McCune said. “I still consider it to be a watershed period in my life, and one that I'll always remember fondly.”

Rachel Bunning

Communications program coordinator, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies