Well, it’s that time of year again. A new year, in fact. A time to look forward and plan, to not only set new goals but a way to meet them. But the trick is to set realistic goals, and to not set yourself up for disappointment. For college students and recent grads, giving yourself resolutions that you can stick to is a great way to reflect on what you’d like to improve on in the new year.
Here are three ways you can make that happen:
Most college students would probably love to have a 4.0 GPA, while most recent grads would love to be gainfully employed. Those sound like no-brainers, but while the latter is realistic, the former might (emphasis on the word might) be a bit of a leap. You need to do your best to think about what a realistic change would look like.
Instead of burdening yourself with the pressure of getting straight As, look at how you did last semester, and then aim for a specific increase in your GPA in targeted classes you may have struggled in. Once you set realistic grades for each class, you can then assess your entire course load and then plan the rest of your life outside of class accordingly. Perfection is in the details.
The Big Picture
All good New Year’s resolutions focus on both the details and the bigger picture. Here’s how and why. Once you have set those realistic grades for each class and have looked at your course load above, you can then tie that to an overall goal of being more rested and healthier in the next semester. In this way you’ll be (hopefully) less crunched for time, which will in turn allow for a more balanced approach to your day-to-day life.
In time, this can just become second nature, and becomes the way you approach all things. It isn’t necessarily The Secret we’re talking about here. It’s just saying set smaller specific goals as a way to achieve the bigger ones.
Remember when we talked about not setting yourself up for disappointment? Here’s exactly what that means. The best way to set good New Year’s resolutions is to focus on the means of getting to where you want to be, not necessarily where you want to go. In other words, it’s the journey, not the destination. For example, if you want to lose a couple of pounds, focus instead on eating healthier on campus. If stress reduction is a goal, focus on implementing some activities that will help reduce it, such as exercising for 30 minutes each day, or going for a walk. Maybe take a yoga or meditation class – or even both. Volunteering once a week can also be a great way to reduce stress AND to network. Two birds with one stone. (Sorry, but you should always be practicing your ABNs after all).
Focusing specifically on the end result—such as losing weight or not being so stressed, etc. — can unintentionally set you up for failure.
Making New Year’s resolutions that are achievable and realistic doesn’t have to be additional course work or an exercise in solving the Riddle of the Universe. In fact, it’s just the opposite. It can be a great time to reflect not only on where you’ve been, where you want to go, but most importantly, how you want to get there. It’s a time of self-reflection. So, go out there and make this new year, your year.