So a new and hopeful year has begun and you may be among those who have set out New Year’s resolutions. Many people break these rather quickly, but you don’t have to be among them.
Suddenly, in a moment of great motivation, you set yourself a significant goal for the coming year. But are you really prepared to do what it takes to succeed? The more ambitious you are, the greater the chances of failure. If you lower your level of ambition, you naturally increase your chances of success. My first and most obvious piece of advice is to choose something realistic, stay focused on your goal and give yourself a pat on the back for small achievements along the way.
After a rough past year, 2021 comes along with the perfect opportunity for a fresh start. Here is a list of five great New Year’s resolutions for students, and tips on how to tackle them.
The Christmas season is officially over. This means that we need to snap out of our relaxed and slow-paced frame of mind and get back into our everyday responsibilities and chores. If you are anything like me, organisation doesn’t come naturally. Luckily, there are many great tools to help organize your student life.
The keywords here are overview and time management. If you plan the week, rather than tackling tasks from day to day, you will discover any deadlines clashing with each other or with other plans. By spotting them early you can solve them without it causing too much of a headache.
One of the most important steps to a simpler and less stressful student life is managing your time well. It is crucial that EVERYTHING is included in your calendar. To avoid finding yourself stressed out and pulling all-nighters, include both classes and assignments as well as plans and appointments outside of university.
As mentioned before, there are several great apps that can help. I use two features in Outlook: Calendar and Tasks. It is almost impossible to forget a lecture or seminar if you use the calendar correctly. You can also plan the whole day the night before. Similarly, Tasks is a system for keeping a record of all chores and projects. Tasks also sends notifications to your phone or your desktop. This helps keep track of your student life.
The recipe for saving money is as simple as for losing weight… and just as difficult: sticking to your promises.
Set yourself a target amount and date to figure out how much you need to save each week to reach your goal.
What is your motivation for wanting to save money? Do you want to buy your dream car? Do you want to splash out on a holiday with your mates as soon as the borders open? Decide what you want to save up for and visualise it every time you are contemplating spending money on a take out or a bougie vegetable peeler on amazon.
After you have cut out your unnecessary expenses you could look at ways to keep your fixed expenses to a minimum. We all have expenses we can’t escape, such as rent, phone bills, transport and food shopping. Have a look at where your money goes and whether you can save a few quid anywhere.
For one, you probably have more subscriptions than you use. Review what subscriptions you have and discontinue those that are redundant. Whether it is the gym you don’t go to or an HBO subscription you hardly use, it is a good idea to take control over these unnecessary expenses.
Doing a weekly food shop is also a great way to save money. If you plan your shopping at the beginning of each week and do one big shop you avoid all those typical impulse purchases, as well as the unnecessary travel expenses.
It is often easier to cut expenses than it is to increase income, but it might be worth a shot at trying to make some extra money. If you have some free time in between university deadlines and social life, maybe you could get a part-time job? Or if you have one already, maybe you could ask for a few extra shifts every month?
The first thing you need to do is decide on improving your personal economy – and sticking to it. If you spend some time at the beginning of this year going through your finances, 2021 will be a good financial year for you.
Get fit and healthy
On this one, I believe in methods that don’t require too much willpower. When it comes to fitness or weight loss, people tend to be too ambitious and work too hard at the beginning before eventually getting bored with it and giving up. Remember that your motivation probably won’t always be as great as the day you set out your fitness goals. My best advice is, therefore; start small and focus on one thing, one sub-goal, one activity at a time.
Don’t set out a New Year’s resolution that requires you to torment yourself through something you do not really want to do. If your goal is to get healthy and in good shape, try to do it through something you enjoy. If you don’t find any joy in the long way to your goal, you are unlikely to find your way to the finish line.
It is easy to become overambitious with goals like trying to get fit. But instead of switching out all comfort foods and movie nights with green smoothies and endless hours of cardio at the gym, you should opt for a sustainable lifestyle change. This could be eating salad for lunch during weekdays and trying out new fun sports.
There are plenty of ways to be physically active, and there’s something for everyone out there. Hiking, yoga, tennis or checking out your nearest indoor swimming pool, are examples of places to start looking for ways you enjoy moving your body. The emphasis here is on enjoyment, remember to listen to your body and give yourself some slack. Find what you enjoy and do that.
Create a happier every-day for yourself
January, February and March can often be a dull few months. Christmas is over, everyday life is back and many may feel a little unmotivated. Get a grip, make 2021 a great year for yourself and make happiness your aspiration.
You can start by sitting down with your calendar and setting aside time to do things that you know make you happy. Maybe you are good at taking care of those around you but often forget about yourself. Remember that you need to look out for yourself before you can be present for others. For example, if you enjoy a nice bath you should set aside some time for self-care and treat yourself to some pampering.
You should have a look at who makes you happy and prioritise spending quality time with those you love. Although the first few weeks of 2021 looks to be affected by social distancing, long talks and wine nights can still happen on zoom. Make every day as positive as possible and remember that our current situation is only temporarily.
In the meantime, you should make your everyday life as colourful and inspiring as possible. Our greatest joys are often the ones we experience when we bring joy to others. We all have someone we can help.
The most important part of leading a happier life is self-acceptance and looking for positives in every situation. Wikihow has a great article on the subject, giving 48 very well explained points with illustrations.
This one is a classic. Instead of saying that you want to quit smoking (as let’s face it, this already has you thinking about smoking), figure out what you are really looking for and your reasons for giving up smoking. For example, if your goal is to achieve a healthy lifestyle and a fit body, then cigarettes suddenly don’t fit into your life anymore. Stop focusing on “not smoking”, and start focusing on getting the life you want for yourself.
It is also important to be honest with yourself, your motivation won’t always be on top. There will be some days where it is extra hard to fight deep-rooted habits. Facilitating your own success will therefore be crucial in your weakest moments. Hence, if your goal is to quit smoking, don’t keep your cancer sticks lying around.
Identify what triggers your smoking habit. It might be a certain time of day or after certain activities and try and steer away as best as you can. Find new routines that provide some satisfaction that covers the desire. This could for example be going for a run or cooking a meal. Try and perform your new routine every time you feel triggered and make sure to have patience. It takes time to change habits.
Most importantly, don’t give up on your goal. You set it out for a reason. There will always be temptations, and sometimes you give in. But a slip-up or two is no excuse to go back to smoking. Keep trying.