Upgrade your New Year’s Resolutions

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Goal setting and actualisation are valuable skills that will be needed throughout your university and young adult life. It’s time we take them seriously.

However with the pandemic, it’s likely you’ve gone through cycles of ‘lockdown resolutions’ or ‘quarantine resolutions’ that have never come to fruition, you might be wondering why.

I’ve realised that CREATING your goal is step one. If you can’t get that right then no matter how much time, motivation and resources you dedicate towards your goal, it’s likely you won’t achieve them.

That’s why I’ve started creating SMART targets, a mnemonic that provides a framework for creating goals that are realistic, achievable and measurable.

Keep reading to find out how to upgrade your new year’s resolutions!

S for Specific and Simple

Keep it simple stupid! A goal that’s overly complicated will leave you confused on how best to tackle it. That being said, a goal that’s too vague will produce the same issue. A good way to keep a goal simple yet specific is to answer the basic W’s:

  • What do I want to do?
  • Why do I want to do it?
  • Where am I going to do it?

For example, the goal of ‘get fit in 2022’ is quite simple but not very specific. If you’re a newbie to the exercise scene, set a smaller target that’s more specific.

A better goal using the W’s would be: I want to be able to run 5km in 20 minutes by the end of 2022.

M is for Measurable

Being able to track your progress throughout your journey keeps you motivated. Even creating smaller intermediate goals is a good way to measure your attainment

Continuing with my ‘get fit’ example. Try to break down the goal into smaller increments, for example:

1. I will run 5km in 30 minutes after 1 month

2. I will run 5km in 28 minutes after 2 months

And keep going until you’ve reached your primary goal…

A is for Achievable

This is where the reality check kicks in. It’s easy to stretch yourself too thin when composing New Year’s Resolutions. It’s all about the balance between realism and optimism.

It’s important to consider how outside factors might affect your ability to achieve your goal:

  • Exams and Coursework
  • University teaching and your weekly timetable
  • Any part-time work that you do
  • COVID-19 restrictions (unfortunately I don’t see these going away anytime soon)
  • Uncontrollable influences e.g. the weather, public transport delays, opening and closing times, working days etc.

If my goal is to run 5km in 20 minutes. I need to consider how my progress might be affected in January and May, my main exam times.

I’d also have to consider my weekly timetable, when will I find the time to run?

If gyms are closed due to COVID-19, do I have any alternatives? What if I wake up to pouring rain?

Unfortunately, as a female I also have to consider safety, would you feel comfortable running at night?

R is for Relevant

Is this goal really what you want? You need to ask yourself some tough introspective questions here.

1. Is this the right time to be setting this goal?

2. Is this goal worth all the effort to achieve it?

3. Is this possible during COVID-19?

4. Am I in the best place right now to achieve this goal?

Using my running example once more; let’s assume you only ever run to catch the 142. You’re going to be putting a lot of effort in as a beginner – could you devote this time to other things? If this is your final year and you have a dissertation to write, that might be the priority.

T is for Time

To cap off a well thought out resolution is a deadline. Don’t you find it easier to study for exams when you can plan a revision timetable with dates? Or looking forward to a trip once you’ve booked flights. It’s the same principle.

When considering a deadline, don’t forget all the other components of SMART targets.


Hopefully these tips help you to create new year’s resolutions that stick!

And if not, there’s always next year…

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