Setting reasonable goals and following through on a plan are simple ways to achieve New Year’s resolutions.
Wouldn’t it be nice to make a New Year’s resolution that lasted longer than three days? If you pick something simple and actively work at it instead of trying to change overnight, it’s possible.
“I think if we have some goals, they should be reasonable goals, rather than ‘I’ve got to turn over about 10 new leaves, I’m gonna study hard, and I’m gonna do all these things,’” Academic Skills Center Coordinator Bill Sydnor said. “About the third or fourth week, it’s just hard to maintain that energy of the new year.”
Here are three resolution ideas and ways to be successful.
1. Make a plan
The first step to improving your GPA is to make a plan, Sydnor said.
“Everything, everything, everything starts with time management,” he said.
He recommended students make a reasonable plan at night for the following day and do their best to execute the plan. Short-term goals can result in life-changing habits.
Plan what you’ll do during each break in the day. Even if you just want to eat and read between classes, you should have a plan instead of aimlessly “drifting through an hour,” he said.
The next step, and the most difficult part, is sticking to the schedule.
“There’s really two people involved in this,” Sydnor said. “We have to follow our own instruction, so one person — the same person, of course — makes the suggestion of what to do and the other person has to say, ‘Oh, I have to follow that,’ because so often in the morning we go, ‘Oh, that was stupid. I did that at 10 last night when I had ambitions, and I just don’t feel like that now.’ If you’re willing to take your own advice, you’ll go far.”
One way to accomplish everything in your schedule is to treat school like a job — not a “dreadful grind,” Sydnor said, but taking advantage of your opportunities.
He said it might be a novel experience for some, but getting to campus at 8 a.m. and staying until 5 p.m., making the most of your time and having a plan to study will all lead to getting better grades in your classes.
2. Find the right environment
Procrastination is a different beast than trying to manage time because it’s psychological in nature, Sydnor said. He said the best way to get started on something you don’t want to do is move yourself into the right environment.
“If you’re sitting in your living room watching television, that’s the wrong environment,” he said. “If you move yourself out of a non-productive environment into any kind of a study area, that helps. It’s hard to study at the beach; it’s hard to surf at the library.”
After you’re in an area that’s conducive to studying, start physically handling the assignment.
Sydnor calls this “teasing yourself into doing the thing you don’t want to do.” Turn on your computer and open a new document. Then, tell yourself you don’t have to write the paper, just think of a title. Then start randomly typing, and maybe some thoughts will come to you. By interacting with the assignment, you will get yourself involved and eventually, you’ll be doing it.
Educational Opportunity Program Academic Advisor Katie Ellis said she doesn’t procrastinate 90 percent of the time, but if she does, it’s because she’s overwhelmed by a large project.
“What I find is breaking it up into little small things and giving myself a timeline,” Ellis said. “So I’ll just do one thing, and then the next week I’ll do another thing, and then eventually it gets done.”
3. Be healthier
Being healthier — exercising more and eating better — is a common resolution, but one that’s difficult to maintain.
“The Rec Center is just really busy the first few weeks in January, and the regulars go like, ‘Oh, gosh, here they are,’” Sydnor said. “But it’s hard to sustain that pace, if things go down.”
Ellis said she always tries to run in the morning before work, but often resets her alarm. She motivates herself by setting a reminder on her phone that alerts her to get up and work out, saying she doesn’t have an option.
Creating a plan and setting aside time for working out is one way to be successful. Attending group classes at the Recreation Center are easy ways to keep in shape, and working out with a friend will help you stay accountable.
As for dietary changes, everyone has their own preference. For child development sophomore Dominique Boyer, a new year was an opportunity to try something new: vegetarianism.
It began as a month-long bet with her mother on the first day of January four years ago, and now she renews her resolution to stay vegetarian each new year.
Although it was challenging in the beginning, Boyer was able to do it because of the support of family and friends around her.
“I wasn’t being a good vegetarian, and I was having a lot of health problems, and that’s when my family got really supportive,” she said.
Boyer wouldn’t have become a vegetarian if it weren’t for her resolution, but she really enjoys it and plans on sticking with it for a while.
For more support, Sydnor recommended attending Student Success Seminars, which begin the third week of winter quarter and will cover topics that could help students learn practical skills to keep their resolutions.
He also said keeping a notebook is helpful. By writing down what you do each day — what worked and what didn’t — you can learn which habits are the most successful and productive.
“I think the new year is wonderful for this kind of inspiration, but then that kind of seems to fade,” Sydnor said. “So let’s make some reasonable, sustainable goals.”