The New Year is a time where many people make vows to change old habits and make better choices. Now is a great time to reflect on last semester and look at what worked and what didn’t. It may be time to make new habits or goals. The first step in making new habits/goals for the New Year is writing them down. Pick up a journal or planner and put your goals on paper. It can be as fancy or as simple as you like make sure it’s attractive to you. A great technique when setting goals is making sure they are SMART. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time based). The time on your goal should be no less than 30 days. Start with something simple like, I want to make better grades. That is a great goal, now let’s make it a SMART goal – By studying each subject for 2 hours each week I will make A/B honor roll by the first progress report. Both goals want the same thing, yet, the second statement tells exactly what you want and how you’ll get there. Making SMART goals allows you to make a plan to achieve the goals by changing habits. Give yourself a reward at the end for achieving your goal too!
The hardest part about making goals is actually sticking to them. You are used to doing the same thing every day and when you want to change that your brain has a hard time adjusting. You won’t feel like it, or you’ll be too tired but remember the goal! You can also set up small rewards for yourself along the way. Say you do it the first week, a reward is going to a movie that weekend, or going to a game on Friday. The second week, you forgot one day to study – don’t beat yourself up about it. This is where many people stop! Mistakes happen, you can study extra one day. If you can’t earn it back, then recognize it and remember to do it the next day. Don’t let shortcomings stop you from achieving the goal! Forgive yourself and keep pressing forward.
Quick life story: As you may know, I am a full time graduate student. This past semester for me was exhausting! I never seemed to have enough time. So a goal for me is to better prioritize my time with school tasks, work tasks, and my self-care. I bought a planner that I think is pretty and the layout is the way I want it. I have already written my work tasks and set deadlines in it. My classes started on January 6th, so I started using the syllabi to put my school tasks and deadlines in it. I have work tasks in orange, school tasks in pink, bills in red, and self-care in light blue (my fav color.) My rewards are nail dates with my best friend, facials, paint classes, and giving myself time to binge watch a tv show. These rewards are written in green. The hardest part for me is making sure I keep it up to date. So I have specific times every day for me to review and update my planner. I am giving myself a month so see how well this works for me.
When the due date comes, you are now able to see if you reached your goal! If so, reward yourself! You stuck to it and you achieved what you wanted, by now the habit is probably formed and doing it isn’t such a chore anymore. It’s more of a routine now, and now you have a new habit. Time for another goal. If you didn’t reach the goal, you’re still awesome! Give yourself a smaller reward, you still put in hard work! The great thing about SMART goals is that you can see exactly where you need to change your goals to be successful. Maybe you need three hours, or you need to extend your deadline to the first report card. Tweak it in the best way you feel it will help you. Love yourself by bettering and forgiving yourself. Enjoy the process!
Happy New Year!