Happy New Year! Er, new school year, that is. September always feels like a clean slate, so why not celebrate with a few mini-resolutions? The habits you build now can impact the rest of your life, so lay the foundation for your success. Take on two (or more) of the following changes to make this year your best one yet.
Raise your hand once every class. Before each lecture or seminar, jot down a question or two about the readings. During class time, try to hone your questions further to make them useful to other students. Push yourself to ask just one question per session. You’ll pay more attention, and your hard work will likely be recognized.
Engage in regular exercise. Stop making excuses to avoid working out, and find a motivation to actually do it. Build an accountability system by finding a running partner or joining a club sports team, or sign up for a group fitness class at your campus gym. Your body will thank you for making physical activity a priority.
Perform random acts of kindness. Call your grandmother on your way to class. Bake cupcakes for a friend. Offer to pick up an extra shift for a stressed coworker. Small actions can make a big difference, and regularly performing random acts of kindness will brighten your day as well as those of the people around you.
Establish a morning routine… Take a brief period of reflection every morning to jot down your goals for the day and think about how you plan to accomplish them. Keep all your lists in one notebook, and use it to help you stay on track. Every few weeks, review your recent lists to spot patterns and plot long-term goals accordingly.
…And a nightly release. End each day by recording things you found beautiful, moving, or frustrating. Putting your thoughts on paper will give you a wealth of self-knowledge, as well as a way to revisit happy memories. One day, you’ll look back to see yourself pining over a crush and celebrate just how far you’ve come.
Learn for pleasure. Resolve to spend time regularly exploring something unrelated to your coursework. Take on a mini-research project related to one of your passions, or read for 30 minutes before bed each night. Keep tabs on your discoveries in a notebook (or even on a blog), and watch your horizons – and your outlook – expand.
Remember that the key to any new habit is consistency—if you find yourself falling short, just get back in the saddle again. Good luck, and Happy New Year!
– Anna Walsh