Every January, countless people worldwide decide they are going to become a “new person” in the coming year by changing their old habits and forming new ones. This especially applies to college students and their forthcoming spring semesters. Between wanting to perform better academically, exercise more, or procrastinate less, there are countless promises students make to themselves that often fall through. Instead of only sticking to your resolutions and goals for a couple of weeks, here are some tips to ensure that you stick to your resolutions throughout the semester (and potentially the whole year) …
To begin, set specific goals.
A mistake that people often make when forming their New Year’s resolutions is forming too many vague goals. In order to combat this issue, you should make a list with areas of your life that you can improve, then choose one to five goals to really focus on. This way, it will be easier to keep track of them. In the New York Times article “How to Make (and Keep) a New Year’s Resolution,” Jen A. Miller discusses how goals should follow the SMART guideline—meaning they should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. By ensuring that your goals check each box, you will be more likely to reach success in your resolution efforts.
Clarify your definition of success and be patient with yourself.
In order to map out your steps to success, you must first define “success” in your own words to see how attaining your goals will satisfy you. Be clear with what you aim to attain out of your resolutions and be realistic about the changes you want to set. To spark some inspiration, see how some of the world’s most successful people define their success in the article “How 9 Incredibly Successful People Define Success” by Drake Baer. Keep in mind that permanent change takes awhile to build and that success isn’t built overnight.
Invest in a planner.
Regardless of whether or not your resolutions involve scheduling, a planner is a great way to ensure that you are on track with forming new habits. Whether it be calling home more, going to bed earlier, or increasing class participation, a planner can help keep track of the frequency, dates, and times of your habits. A personal favorite are the planners from Plum Paper, where you can customize your planners down to the nitty gritty, including your course names and extracurricular activities. Other top-notch planners include Anthropologie, Agendio, and Golden Coil. For those who are more tech savvy, Google Calendar, MyStudyLife, and Things 3 are three user-friendly platforms that eliminate the need for pen-and-paper planning.
Find an “accountability buddy” that has similar goals as you.
In college, there are inevitably several friends and peers that have the same goals as you for the upcoming semester. By finding a friend to form new habits with and to hold yourself accountable to, your motivation to stick to your resolution will increase. For example, find someone who will go to the gym with you for a workout or a study buddy to accompany you to O’Neill.
Set rewards for reaching milestones along the way.
Lastly, it is important to reward yourself during your journey to keep your motivation up. The more you divide up the timeline for reaching your goals, the more encouraged you will be in the process of successfully completing your resolutions, since you will feel like you are consistently reaching milestones. For example, if you are working hard at the gym, treat yourself to a fun workout class at Soul Cycle or Barry’s bootcamp! If you are trying to better your time management, reward yourself with a leisure activity. Rewarding yourself for reaching smaller goals will increase your stamina to fulfill your resolutions.
Featured Graphic by Annie Corrigan / Heights Editor