At the start of each year, no fail, I start to gaze into the infinite possibilities of that year + 1, the imagery that goes along with that hopefulness is this improved version of myself. In this vision I’m glowing and everything is just a little too hazy and dream-like. Short of saying when that clock strikes 12 on January 1st, there where I stood will be me 2.0 #newyearnewme
Following this, again with no fail, is the disappointment I experience as early as January 2 when I don’t wake up to my 7 am alarm or when I choose to grab a bowl of frosted flakes instead of making that smoothie I bought pre-washed spinach for. I fall into a bit of a rut and lose momentum at the starting line.
The cycle goes on and on..
I’ve heard it said that people don’t do resolutions because it creates a cycle of disappointment and I completely understand where they’re coming from. It’s tempting to buy into the symbolism of big events and to use it as your big catalyst for change. This strategy works for some and for certain scenarios, but a lot of the time it doesn’t work.
This thinking feeds into the idea of a snap-like change, which as we know is not how things typically get done. A big part of change is that it takes time and effort. The effort required to change can seem insurmountable at times, but in the end, commitment and dedication to your resolution are what will carry you through. I remember my high school teacher telling me the same thing when it came to time management- that it’s easy to think you’ll wake up one morning and have it all figured out. Alas, it doesn’t work that way. You have to work at things and be willing to fail, iterate, change strategies and sometimes goals as you go along, according to yourself and your circumstances.
Here are some tips I’ve learned over the years (through trial and error) with regards to goals/resolutions/objectives, hopefully they can help you too.
1. Make SMART goals
You may have heard of this before. It is just so relevant in any type of objective you set for yourself. Make your goals: Specific, Measurable, Accurate, Realistic and Time based. Just like planning a trip it’s important to know where you’re going (that you are realistically able to get there given current and likely accumulated resources), when you wanna get there (so you can budget your gas and pocket money) and how to know when you’ve reached your destination (yay!)
For more about SMART goal setting: http://www.yourcoach.be/en/coaching-tools/smart-goal-setting.php
2. Break the goals down into steps.
Goals can be intimidating. For example: Getting straight A’s. Now let’s use what we learned in step 1. Primarily, is it realistic? Is it specific? We don’t want to set ourselves up for something that is beyond our ability in the present. Let’s revise and say: Get 10% higher on my next midterm. Even still, making that happen is easier said than done. Taking some time to reflect on concrete and doable steps on how to get there can make the goal less daunting and is worth the time.
Come to class -> take notes -> review notes the day after class -> 1 week before exam make cue cards
3. Find yourself a buddy!
Achieving your resolutions can become fun and feel less like a chore when you have a buddy. They would give you that extra bit of motivation on days when you just want to stay in bed.
How might I find this buddy you might ask?
- Have casual conversations with your friends about your goal setting. This could lead to discovering what goals you share. I’ve seen this happen with my friends and their resolution to exercise more. One friend brought up how she had found found a good deal for KickBoxing and several others wanted to jump in and join her. Free events or groupons are always a good start to gauging people’s interest!
- For academics related goal setting, one thing you can do is to make a friend in the class. Ask them if they’d be interested to go through some of the course work together. Otherwise, you can ask the prof if there are existing communication networks set up for the course (ie. piazza, discussion forums, mattermost chat app) to help create study groups.
4. Lastly, It doesn’t have to be a new year.
You can start today. The trick is to realize that even small steps helps you move forward toward those bigger goals.
So to future me: be flexible, be firm when needed, commitment and dedication are key, but most importantly be forgiving with yourself. This is an it’s-the-journey-not-the-destination thing.
Happy New Year!
Post written by: Annika A.