New Year’s resolutions are notorious for being easy to make but difficult to keep. Students who want to find success with the following common resolutions can use this guide to making practical promises instead of being over-ambitious.
1. “I’m going to attend all my classes, pay attention and do all my work ahead of time.”
Many students may feel inclined to make a dramatic, sweeping statement about how they’re going to become a model pupil, especially if they had a disappointing first term. If this sounds like you, be honest with yourself — are you really going to be able to cut your truancy habit cold turkey?
Try for something more manageable first. If you’re a social media addict during class, for example, limit yourself to one or two checks of your phone, working up to leaving your phone in your bag.
If you’re partial to sleeping in through classes, set a goal for how many times you will allow yourself to skip per month, and bring the number down as the year progresses.
If you tend to let your readings and homework pile up until it’s midterm season and you’re scrambling, try starting each week off with one manageable goal. Look at what is expected of you, and highlight something that you promise to complete by the end of the week. Increase the number as time goes on.
2. “I’m going to stop drinking/partying.”
Too much time at the bar or too many trips to the liquor store can be hard on a student’s wallet and productivity. But if a lot of your social life involves going out at night, it’s unrealistic to cut that out of your life in one fell swoop — you’re bound to feel left out. So, take baby steps.
A good start could be choosing limited evenings when you can have a couple drinks. You can reassess at the beginning of each week, tailoring your choice in case there is an event you’d like to drink at, but don’t go over your pre-determined number of nights. Also, stay involved with your friends’ outings by offering to be the designated driver — that way, you don’t miss out and you’re doing a good deed.
3. “I’m quitting junk food.”
Trying to eat healthier for someone with a major sweet tooth can be tough. If you’re a student who is used to frothy frappucinos before class, sugary snacks during lecture and crunchy crisps while doing homework, you’ll have to take it slow to kick the cravings.
Pick your favourite indulgence and allow yourself to enjoy it on limited days. Do a Google search on healthy alternatives for some of your favourites — there are lots of inventive recipes out there that are fun to try and will help with the transition to healthier habits.
4. “I’m going to be less stressed.”
Students are no strangers to stress and many of us know how debilitating it can be to every aspect of our lives. This resolution is too sweeping and non-specific, however, so in order to not fail before you’ve even started, start by breaking down the problem.
What are the top stressors in your life? Pick one thing and start with that — for example, do you frequently worry about money? Start by being brutally honest about how much you’ve spent at the end of each week, and look for specific purchases that could have been made more intelligently or not at all. Do you have toxic relationships in your life that heighten your anxiety? Step back from those interactions and slowly cut down on time spent in those situations.
Also take positive steps to find activities that relax you — maybe try yoga, schedule a bubble bath evening once a week, go on a loose leaf tea shopping spree to find your favourite type — whatever works for you. Don’t let those things slip off your calendar, no matter how busy you feel.
These four resolutions are just a few common choices for students. Whatever your goal, remember to start small and build — otherwise, you may be overwhelmed with how impossible your task seems and end up being one of the estimated 90 per cent of adults who break their resolutions within several months. Break down the problem and start the new year feeling successful.