Goals for a New Year
It occurred to me today that I'll only have two more back-to-school Mondays - and that truly saddens me, especially because today was incredibly anticlimactic with only one class in the afternoon... and a nap.
There's something I love about the end of the summer and the beginning of the academic year; the tax-free weekends, the office supplies, the chance to redecorate a dorm room for the sixth year straight... which is even more exciting this fall because I'm living alone. (!!!)
Tangible stuff aside, there's also an incredible sense of purpose and renewal - something I see more in the fall than around the actual new year. I make my "new year's" resolutions in the fall because I feel it's a more natural break, especially with the summer as a chance to mill over the mistakes I made in the past year. For example, I'm vowing to floss at least four times a week - big strides. ;)
If you're interested in goal-setting for the year, there are lots of life-blogs, study-blogs, and articles online - probably written by a person (or people) who knows way more about this stuff than I do. However, I think it should be said that setting resolutions or goals for yourself is a deeply personal thing - and something that requires honesty and transparency.
On that note, here is what works best for me:
- At the end of each August, I like to look back at my classes from the previous year and think about how I went wrong, or conversely, how I went right. For example, my statistics class last semester was BORING and I learned that I have a hard time valuing information that I don't find engaging. That lack of engagement means that I simply didn't care if I ended up with an A or a B... even if I could have earned a better grade. After some pondering, I know now that I need to value classes even if they don't interest me. Short story shorter, if one of your goals this semester is to "do better academically", the first step is figuring out where you went wrong last semester. Maybe you didn't get to know your professors, speak up enough in class, or attend discussion because it was on a Friday morning and you went out every Thursday night. Maybe you vowed you'd work harder but didn't necessarily work smarter.
- Set numerical or tangible aspects to your goals. I could tell myself, Liv, you have GOT to floss more because when you rinse your mouth when you're getting your teeth cleaned it looks like Edward Scissorhands is your dental hygienist - but that really doesn't mean anything. Four times or three times or fives times, it doesn't matter, put a number to your goal. If you're "going to get to know my professors" or "go to office hours", tell yourself that you're going to meet all of your professors within the first two weeks of school, or go to office hours biweekly. If you're "going to study more", then set aside two or three hours in your day and block them off as study-time. If you need to "budget better", then divide the amount of money you have for your dining dollars or your paycheck by the number of weeks, and go from that. Each desire for change should be matched with a plan for change.
- I touched on this briefly, but you need to hold yourself accountable. If you know that there's no way you could possibly do something - like floss twice a day or live off of $20 a week for food for instance - then don't set that goal. Part of the fun of goal setting is actually accomplishing your goals... not that nagging in the back of your head that happens when you know you didn't do something you wanted to do. Set realistic goals, but set goals that challenge you.
- Don't get crazy. If you have a list of 20 things you want to alter about your habits - cooking, eating, fitness, interpersonal, etc - I can assure you you won't get too much done. Keep your goals particular and small in number and you'll have better luck.
I'm planning on writing here at least once a week (look at me setting goals), and probably on Tuesdays, so check back in a week for details about my room. Expect to see lots of Ikea, awkward storage solutions, and some greenery. Hopefully. I have a black thumb.
Have a great start to your semester!