With the new year comes the infamous new years resolutions. We all know the story: we wake up on the first day of the year with a list of changes that we want to make to our lives or ourselves. Chances are, every year we also fail to keep these commitments. In some ways, new years resolutions have become a joke we all acknowledge, but many of us still make them, year after year, in what some would argue is a futile attempt to change ourselves.
I know this story better than anyone else. Every year, without fail, I set new years resolutions for myself, and every year, without fail, I don’t reach them. They have ranged from the reasonable (to get healthier) to the completely out of my control ones that no one should ever make (to get a boyfriend).
Despite my experiences in the past with resolutions, I don’t think this pattern of setting goals and then failing to reach them is a waste of time. In fact, I think the more frequently you can set goals and come up with plans to achieve them the easier it gets to fulfill those goals. Any way to further integrate goal setting into ones life is a worthwhile endeavor. How do we go about actually reaching those goals though? The key to success in reaching your goals comes in two parts: keeping them realistic and making a plan on how exactly you are going to achieve said goals. Because of this my favorite time to make long term goals is no longer New Years. I think setting a goal for an entire year to start off in the middle of winter break isn’t realistic, at least for me. I need to be able to work in smaller chunks of time, and lets be honest, is January 1st really the best day to start any self improvement project? You’re still going to be suffering from your hangover and you probably aren’t going to wake up until noon. Chances are you aren’t ready to tackle all those goals. This isn’t a bad thing: holidays were invented for a reason!
So when do you set these goals if not at the beginning of the new year? For me, it’s the beginning of every semester that I like to set my goals! So without further ado, here are my top 8 goals for the semester:
1. Go to EVERY class.
I know, realistically, that I can do this. I don’t get sick very often, and when I do its rarely bad enough to warrant staying home. If you aren’t throwing up or suffering from explosive diarrhea, then there is very little reason not to go to class unless your schedule really is so packed that you need to miss class in order to recover. If this is the case you WILL be able to get a doctors note. University excused absences are the only reason I’m hoping to miss this semester, if I do have to miss at all. This goal is definitely realistic and easily reachable.
2. Go to office hours at least once in the first two weeks of class.
Why the first two weeks? Well, chances are you might not have any questions the first week of class, but going to office hours sometime in the first two weeks is definitely a must for starting off the year right. You get to meet your professor, start building a relationship with them and you’re forcing yourself to take the class seriously and seek outside help. It’s ideal to come up with at least one question to ask professors during this visit. As the semester goes on, I’m also hoping to find excuses to go to office hours on a pretty regular basis. One of the big reasons for this is the fact that if I was asked for a recommendation letter right now, I would have no idea who to ask. I don’t want to wait until senior year to start trying to build these relationships. However, the amount of time you are able to spend going to office hours is dictated by your schedule. Additionally, the amount of time you really need to spend talking to your professor depends on the class, which is why I can’t make set goals about regularly going to office hours until the semester starts and I start to get a feel for the class demands.
3. Book an appointment at the writing center within the first week of school.
Now, this one is pretty specific to my university. At A&M we have something called the university writing center, which is basically where you can make an appointment to work with students who are trained to help with every aspect of writing. I’m ashamed to say, I’ve never been to the writing center before but I’ve heard amazing things about it so this semester I’m going to book an appointment the first week of school, and I’m going to go to it. Once I overcome the anxiety associated with trying something new, I’m hoping I’ll be able to integrate this amazing student service into making my writing better. By setting appointments in advance I’ll force myself to work on papers and not leave them until the night before, like I’m prone to do a lot of the time. I’m also doing this at the beginning of the year so that I can figure out when exactly I need to make appointments for the semester and how often I should go. This is important because the writing center really books up by the end of the semester, but you can book appointments online as far in advance as you want. So I can look at the due dates for my papers and book appointments a week ahead of time for each one of them, or perhaps one a week ahead of time and another a few days before its due! Either way, I’m very committed to trying to take advantage of this service.
4. Practice French EVERY DAY.
I am a dyslexic English major. I’ve also wanted to learn french for as long as I can remember. Since my major requires me to take 14 hours of the same language, I picked the one I’ve been interested in learning my whole life. I only figured out after the fact that french is actually one of the worst languages for dyslexics. It’s all those silent letters and irregularities, apparently. Still, I firmly believe that working smarter and harder makes learning anything possible for my personal level of dyslexia which is fairly mild because of all the reading I did as a child. If I can be an English major, I can sure a heck learn french. However, it’s something I’m going to need to commit to working on every day if I want to be able to succeed in it. This means doing flashcards or my language learning programs on the regular. It’s something I’m really bad about, but I’m hoping by scheduling specific times to work on this I’ll be able to stick to it. There are gaps between classes where I can definitely work on getting ahead in class by practicing regularly, and I plan to take advantage of those.
5. Stay on campus and do homework more.
I have a lot of hour long gaps in my schedule this upcoming semester, and I plan to take advantage of those by using the time to study. Last semester I found that it was much easier to motivate myself to flip through flashcards while I was waiting to be able to head into my next class. It’s all about keeping the momentum of academics rolling, which I’m really bad about. I’m hoping finding ways to stay on campus and study will help me integrate regular studying into my life.
6. Study an hour a day during the week days.
I’ll admit it, I’m terrible about studying. I always leave it off until the last minute, and then try and cram. I don’t do my reading until the night before and I don’t start my essays until the day of. If I can commit to just sitting down and knocking out some of the work I get for an hour every day I know I’m going to see a drastic improvement in my grades. Of course, I do hope to work up to more studying than that. 5 hours a week isn’t necessarily enough studying to guarantee a 4.0 for the semester. However, goals are about being realistic, and if I find I can handle this I can start to up the amount of study hour goals I set for myself.
7. Bring my lunch to school.
This one might seem a little silly but because of my schedule I’m going to have to eat lunch on campus every day. I’ve made a commitment to try and be healthier as well as spend less money, so bringing my own food is key. This is going to be hard for me, but I think it will work out due solely to the fact that after a year and a half at A&M I’ve finally found the location of not one, but TWO microwaves on campus. Lack of a microwave can really make bringing your own lunch a lot harder. I like hot meals, what can I say?
I’m also planning on ordering a french press today so I can finally make my own coffee again. If I can eliminate my habit of spending money on campus my budget will be a heck of a lot happier.
8. Blog more.
I really want to commit myself to developing my skill for writing, and blogging really makes sense for that. I used to want to be a fiction writer and I still do. I find, however, that recently my interest has shifted to nonfiction. I’ve resisted this for a long time in an attempt to hold onto my childhood writing dream that has always centered around fiction. Nonfiction adult books always seemed boring and, somehow, less intellectual. I can no longer deny that I LOVE nonfiction. I love memoirs, biographies, self help books, psychology books and finance books. I love lifestyle blogs, articles about education and reading all the click bate posted on Facebook. Above all, I like writing non-fiction I’ve turned out this 1,700+ article in less than an hour, where as writing fiction I’m lucky to get 500 words in an hour! That’s no a bad thing, and my dream of writing fiction is long from dead. Fiction brings me to a magical world and writing it gives me opportunity to constantly be surprised by my own creativity, but I also need to make a place in my life for the kind of writing that feels second nature to me.
So what are your semester resolutions?