With the New Year comes a new start and according to research from the University of Scranton 45% of Americans take this opportunity to set resolutions to better themselves.1 Of course there is also a stigma that comes along with New Year’s resolutions. The same study suggests that just 8% of people achieve their New Year’s goals.2 For students, achieving these goals might be especially tough while balancing coursework, classes, jobs, family and friends. But, hope is not lost. It is possible to reach those goals, especially if you approach them correctly.
If you have never run a day in your life it may not be entirely realistic to set your goal to run a marathon. Earning a degree is a goal for over 17 million Americans currently enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities.3 While this goal is completely achievable, it might not be wise to take a heavy course load while working a full time job and volunteering. Be honest with yourself about what you are capable of accomplishing.
Keep it simple
It’s hard to reach a goal if it is too complicated or when you have too many goals competing for your time. Instead of resolving to lose weight, learn Spanish, be more organized, focus more on school and volunteering at the local animal shelter, try to pick one or two that are most important to you and, as mentioned in the tip above, are realistic. “Setting small, attainable goals throughout the year, instead of a singular, overwhelming goal on Jan. 1 can help you reach whatever it is you strive for,” psychologist Lynn Bufka, Ph.D told the American Psychological Association.4 If earning your degree is top priority, it might be wise to choose to focus on school and save the other resolutions for another year.
Once you have a good idea of what your goal is, make it specific. This will make it easier to work toward that goal. Choosing to focus more on school is a great goal, but what exactly does that mean? It helps to think about tangible steps you could take to reach that overall goal. For example, if you want to focus more on school to help earn your degree perhaps a good way to achieve that is to schedule two extra hours of study time a week or to create a study group that meets before each scheduled test.
Ask for help
Once you have a good idea of what your goal is, make it specific. This will make it easier to work toward that goal. Choosing to focus more on school is a great goal, but what exactly does that mean? It helps to think about tangible steps you could take to reach that overall goal. For example, if you want to focus more on school to help earn your degree perhaps a good way to achieve that is to schedule one-hour blocks dedicated to studying during the week, which research finds to be more effective than cramming.5
Believe in yourself
Many times we are the ones who stand in our own way. When things start to get tough it feels easier to just give up. Self-doubt and negative self-talk are paralyzing and can keep you from succeeding. If you want to be successful in reaching your goal you have to be your own cheerleader and remind yourself that you can do it. Keep track of your progress or use incentives to keep yourself motivated. Believe in yourself and make 2014 a great year!
1 ‘New Years Resolution Statistics,’ Statistic Brain. http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/
2 ‘New Years Resolution Statistics,’ Statistic Brain. http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/
3 ‘Digest of Education Statistics,’ National Center for Education Statistics. – http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/2013menu_tables.asp
4 ‘Making your New Years Resolution stick,’ American Psychological Association.
5 ‘Improving Students’ Learning With Effective Learning Techniques,’ Association for Psychological Science. http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/publications/journals/pspi/learning-techniques.html
6 ‘Study backs up strategies for achieving goals,’ Dominican University of California. http://www.dominican.edu/dominicannews/study-backs-up-strategies-for-achieving-goals
7 Lancer, Darlene, ‘5 Tips on How to Keep New Year’s Resolutions,’ PsychCentral. http://psychcentral.com/lib/5-tips-on-how-to-keep-new-years-resolutions-2/00018459