- Category: Volume 85 (Fall 2013 - Spring 2014)
- Published: 29 January 2014
How to Stay on Track to Achieving Your Goals Long After January Ends
The tradition to create a far-fetched New Year’s resolution each year seems like a great way to achieve more than you did the previous year. Many people love to set resolutions to improve their health, work life, and grades in school. But how many people actually stick to their goals after Jan. 1?
Sophomore political science major Kayla Moor said, “I really push myself to overall make more healthy choices and to also make a set plan for my future as in a career like setting up an internship in the near future.”
Her goals are probably very similar to many college students. But what if you don’t succeed? Most people forget about their big New Year’s resolutions within a couple of weeks. Time moves fast and goals seems to be forgotten once hectic schedules begin, allowing old routines to quickly return.
Many resolutions are also unachievable or too intimidating to conquer at once. Committing to such a large goal can be scary. It feels great to say it aloud or write it down on Jan. 1, but when the going gets tough as the New Year progresses, your goal suddenly seems unattainable and unrealistic. Getting six-pack abs sounded amazing and simple, but after a few tough workouts and the temptation of late night snacking, you may feel hopeless.
The same situation happens all the time with your grades, right? You say to yourself you are going to study extra hard and attain all A’s and B’s for the entire semester. Three weeks into it, after taking an unexpectedly hard exam, you may begin to give up. This happens every year to thousands of college students who start their year off with resolutions.
New Year’s resolutions may not be the best way to make changes in your life. But, what is a better solution? Don’t stop setting goals, they are a great way to aim higher and feel accomplished when you do work hard and achieve them. Goals make it easy to see what exactly we want. But, try new ways to stick to them. Write them down. People tend to remember things better if they write it out. Next, place it somewhere you’ll see. Leave it written on your desk, the background of your phone, or hang a sign on the back of your bedroom door. You can even make a vision board that maps out how you want your future to look in order to constantly stay motivated.
How do you make your goal attainable? Start with small goals you can easily achieve and build yourself up to larger resolutions as the year goes on. These small goals will keep you feeling encouraged instead of overwhelmed. Also, don’t expect your resolutions to be achieved immediately. You aren’t going to have six-pack in a month or make enough money this year to pay off your loans.
Break your goals up into months. On January 1st, make one large goal if you choose. But, also make smaller, attainable goals for just the month of January that will help you get to your big resolution. Then do it again on the first of each month. The sense of accomplishment you feel at the end of each month will help you to keep pushing forward towards your resolution. Remember that a New Year’s resolution is for the whole New Year. You have 12 months to accomplish it. Be patient.
Dr. Lisa Dinella, associate professor of psychology, suggests using the science of psychology to think about resolutions.
Dinella said, “Psychology is the science of understanding and changing behavior, which is what New Year’s resolutions are all about. There are general psychology principles (e.g., positive reinforcement: rewarding good behaviors), desensitization (exposure to something that someone finds negative), that can be applied to changing behaviors in general. But there are also sub-fields within psychology dedicated to specific types of desired behavior change (e.g. changing alcohol and drug dependency).”
Even if you have never taken a psychology course, think about using the processes mentioned above to assist you in keeping your resolutions. It can be as simple as using positive reinforcement by rewarding yourself with a new piece of clothing for every pound you lose or good grade you receive.
If your resolution is to lose weight or be healthier, start with small changes in your diet and physical activity. Starting the year off with an impossible workout routine and a strict diet that doesn’t allow any food you like, is setting yourself up for failure.
Start your resolutions very slowly. Add an extra five minutes to your cardio, do two extra reps while lifting or try a workout like spinning. Expect that it will be difficult, but accept the challenge and listen to your body as well as your mind. Your mind may tell you to give up, but your body will tell when to keep pushing or when it is time for break. Learn how to listen to your body and you will conquer greater fitness goals.
New Year’s resolutions are a great way to increase your motivation to complete aspirations to improve yourself. There is always room for improvement in every aspect of your life. However, you have to make your goals achievable instead of impossible. Still, never settle for anything less than your personal best. Remember these tips to follow through with this year’s resolutions and you will find yourself proud and accomplished.
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