My New Year’s Resolution? Have Better Resolutions
It is that time of year again. We are all eager to recreate ourselves in the face of the new year and in order to do this we set ourselves goals or ‘new year’s resolutions’, which rarely come to fruition. Instead, these ill-fated promises to ourselves become a source of disappointment or even anxiety as we fail to live up them. The problem with our new year’s resolutions is that they are often the toxic combination of gargantuan and vague. How many times have you heard –‘I’m going to get fit, eat healthy, get organised, work harder, spend less money, save more money’? – All too often, we are met with a huge sense of disappointment when we can’t attain them, even though they are often impossible to achieve.
The ‘New year’s reso-solution’? SMART goals. Setting goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound. I’m going to take a look at how you can apply SMART goals to some of the most common new years resolution to make a success of this new year at uni.
Perhaps the most common of all the new years resolutions and the hardest to measure. Luckily, there are thousands of ways to get fit, what’s important is choosing the method that works best for you and setting goals that will help you. Instead of the overall goal of getting fit, set achievable weekly goals. ‘This week I’ll join a gym and have an induction’, or ‘this week I will run a total of 10k’(Or start the couch to 5k programme, which gives you weekly goals), whatever is realistic for you. Achieving these smaller goals will give you momentum and you can build up week by week – eventually you will reach the hallowed ground of fitness but will barely notice, so focused on your weekly targets you will have become.
Or how about ‘this week I will join a sports society’? This will take the weight of organising time to do exercise off your hands- giving you specific weekly spots in which to practice. Click here to read the full list of benefits of joining a sports society.
The natural counterpart to getting fit. Whether you are trying ‘Veganuary’ or simply trying to cut junk food out of your diet, ambitious food goals can often lead to feelings of guilt when we can’t quite live up to them. Once again it is important to get specific with your goals! Instead of trying to cut out everything bad at once, take things away week by week and find suitable replacements for things you are taking out. ‘This week I am going to cut out bacon and replace it with mushroom’ for example. Check out the NHS website for healthy food swap ideas.
On top of weekly food swaps, you can focus on learning healthy recipes – ‘I will learn to make a potato and kale soup by Friday’ – this way you can build up your repertoire steadily, focusing on one dish at a time, try ‘BBC good-food’ or ‘whatthefuckshouldimakefordinner’ for ideas!
‘Get on top of my uni work’
Although it may be the least fun, getting on top of your uni work lends itself most naturally to the SMART goals system. It takes a degree of organisation but once you have the goals in place, doing your uni work can be more rewarding and a lot less stressful. You need to sit down and note all of your upcoming deadlines and/or exams and plan the time you are going to work towards them.
For example, if you have a two weeks until your next hand in, lets say a 2,000 word essay, instead of saying ‘I will write this essay in these two weeks’ be more specific and give yourself smaller targets within that two week time frame ‘I will write a 500 word plan by Monday’ ‘I will write the 200 words of section 1 on Wednesday’ etc etc. Although this may sound a bit anal-retentive, trust me it will take a lot of stress out of your uni work and you will feel good as you tick off your manageable goals.
Spend less money/ Save more money
Spending money, it feels great but it is also the worst. If your trying to be more frugal this year, merely resolving to spend less or save more won’t help you. It won’t surprise you to hear that setting smaller realistic targets surrounding money is the key to success.
Apply saving money to your weekly shop, or your weekly drinks budget, or your compulsive desire to buy new trainers. Set a new weekly food budget that you can stick too, change shops or food habits (remember food swaps?) if it will help you reach the new costs.
Setting a weekly budget is essential but critically, you need to police yourself and stick to it. No one else will do it. Try taking the cash out you will need for the week or using apps like Monzo to keep an eye on what your spending. Once again hitting the smaller targets will make you feel good. What’s more, you’ll be saving and every week you’ll be getting closer to a holiday/festival/new shoes/being generally wealthier.
If you are stressed about your student loan, take a look at the facts here.
So if you haven’t got the picture by now, to achieve your new year’s resolutions you need to set smaller attainable goals, which will steadily help you feel better, giving you momentum as you tick them off. Try it out and see for yourself for a more rewarding 2020.
Director- Thrive & Survive