From One SA Pro to Another: Succeed at New Year’s Resolutions

Have you ever had a student struggling to set attainable goals?

Goal setting is an important part of higher education success, and this time of year making resolutions to improve yourself is top of mind.

We all know that setting New Year’s resolutions is easy; it’s making them stick that’s more difficult. Every student may want to manage time better, start writing papers as soon as they’re assigned and spend more time in the library. Most people have a long list of things they’d like to improve and look forward to the New Year as an opportunity to implement changes.

People also tend to be hard on themselves two months later when these New Year’s resolutions have fallen by the wayside.

The article “Making your New Year’s Resolution Stick” from the American Psychological Association outlines tips for making achievable goals and ensuring success. Psychologist Lynn Bufka recommends:

  • Starting small
  • Changing one behavior at a time
  • Talking about it
  • Asking for Support

How can you use these tips with students? Here are a couple ideas:

  • For the time-crunched student: Maybe suggest that, rather than setting an overarching goal to improve study habits, students could set aside one hour each weekday to dedicate to schoolwork, which sounds more attainable.
  • For the ambitious goal-setter: Help students recognize a need for change, then break down the process to change into bite-sized pieces rather than trying to change multiple behaviors all at once.

The key to goal attainment is to not be too hard on yourself. Remember that none of us is perfect, and striving for perfection is the most unrealistic goal of all.

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