January is here and this is the time you hear everybody you know talking about their New Year’s resolutions. This time around, we’re hearing it even more than usual because as well as a new year, we have a new decade.
We tend to hear two sides of the resolution argument, the first being the obvious “new year, new me” approach which a lot of people adopt as a way of saying they want to make big changes in their lives. On the other hand, you get the ones who think people should set goals every day and argue “time is a social construct” and so on, which is great but what about those people who don’t naturally set goals regularly? Is it really such a bad thing to use a new year as a turning point and use it to make a few positive changes?
I’m a strong believer that if you set yourself a goal and write it down, then you are much more likely to achieve it, and I’m pretty sure there’s some evidence to support this theory.
Setting some resolutions or goals for the new year can be nothing other than a positive thing, with the only downside coming in when people don’t stick to them. The key here is to set realistic, maintainable goals that you can achieve and keep up for the next 12 months until, well, forever! Because if you’ve made a great change, why would you want to revert back to your old ways?
I set goals every year, so here are a few of my top suggestions for resolutions which will help you as a student.
1. Be focused and procrastinate less.
Yes, this one really is as simple as that.
I don’t know about you, but one of my main struggles as a student is staying focused and not allowing myself to get side-tracked by the extremely present distractions in my life. Distractions can include things like your phone (social media, I’m talking about you!), your friends, Netflix, your pets, anything that can take you away from what you should be doing.
To become more focused when trying to study, try:
- Switching your phone off,
- Getting a good night sleep – because nothing is more distracting than that comfy bed of yours,
- Scheduling time with your friends, and being strict on yourself outside of that time,
- Adding a website blocker to your browser (StayFocusd is a great one for Google Chrome, but there are others if you use another browser). Simply choose to block the usual distractions (Netflix, social media, Youtube, online shopping sites and so on), so that when you are on your computer/laptop, you are solely focused on your work.
2. Set and achieve academic goals.
This one is a little broad, but you can tailor it to yourself.
As a PhD student, there are many things that I should be doing that I haven’t been very proactive with in the last few months. Some examples include networking, attending seminars held by other PhD students (and getting involved in these myself), planning to present at a conference and so on.
At undergraduate level, examples may consist of getting some practical or work experience, doing voluntary work, connecting with potential dissertation supervisors, looking for graduate job opportunities. These may be things that you’ve told yourself you’ll start to do since you were in first year, but you haven’t ever actually got around to doing it. It can be scary starting something new, especially in academic situations, but the benefits are always worth it!
3. Be healthier.
I’ve left this resolution ambiguous for a reason because the word ‘healthy’ means a different thing to everyone. Find your meaning and set your goals in relation to that. Whatever the case, being healthier will have a positive impact on your uni life as you’ll be more energised and less stressed.
You may believe that being healthy refers to eating better, whether that be cutting out sugar and snacks or actively choosing to eat more fruit and vegetables. Eating better could also mean making wholesome, home-cooked meals rather than eating packet noodles or ordering takeaway because you can’t be bothered.
You could choose to exercise more or start to exercise if you don’t do any yet. For people who don’t exercise, it can be quite intimidating walking into a gym for the first time and not really knowing what to do. There are many ways around this, and my biggest and best suggestion would be to make use of the Sporticipate programme that the university runs. This is a beginner-level programme designed to allow students and staff at the university to try new sports. It is great if you are unsure what you enjoy or want to try something new. You can find out more here.
Another way to be healthier is to practice more self-care. This could be taking more time to relax and de-stress by doing the things you enjoy. It could also be saying no to additional workloads which are not necessarily important at that time. You could also try yoga, meditation or mindfulness.
4. Clean more regularly.
One your housemates will thank you for!
Simple but effective. They say a clear space means a clear mind so what better way to enhance your studying than having a good clear out of all that stuff you no longer need or putting away that pile of laundry that’s been there for… well.
Cleaning more regularly will make you feel better not only about the space you live in but also about yourself as you will naturally feel more productive and organised. Cleaning up is a great way of distracting the mind and did you know it counts as exercise? Winner winner.
Whilst cleaning is good for some things, it can be bad for procrastination. So, while it is exam period, maybe hold off doing that big clean and just stick to a little bit of organising and tidying instead.
Whatever it is you decide to go for, I hope it goes well. Setting goals may be just the thing you need to get that motivation back!