We just celebrated the New Year, so students all across New York are just starting to work on their resolutions. Maybe this year you resolved to study harder, eat healthy, or travel. Personally I’ve resolved to work on my writing this year. It’s easy to look back on all the things we promised ourselves just before midnight and begin to feel overwhelmed, but you don’t have to be. It might not be as hard as you think to achieve your goals. By following these simple steps you’ll be well on your way to the accomplished, better you of 2016.
Research from the University at Albany has shown that asking about positive behavioral changes (“will you exercise?” or “will you recycle?”) as opposed to telling or instructing people has a long-term impact in many areas of life. The report, published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, is the first comprehensive look at more than 100 studies examining the “question-behavior effect.” The study looks at the effect that asking about certain behavior will have on whether or not you do it. So if you want to help your friends maintain their resolutions the best thing to do is ask them if they’re going to. And maybe you can get them to ask you about yours too.
These days there’s an app for just about everything. Be strategic and use your phone to help you track progress and get tips on how to achieve your goals. Did you resolve to eat healthier? Try apps like Lark or MyFitnessPal. Trying to learn a new language? There are dozens of learning-game apps you can download. You probably carry your phone with you everywhere anyways, why not put it to work for you?
If you say you’re going to be healthier, say exactly how. Will you work out 3 times a week? Eat your veggies everyday? Specific goals are much easier to conquer than vague notions. Take my resolution for example: I could say, “I will work on my writing this year.” But what does that really mean? Does writing for work count? Probably not. Instead, I would say, “Every week I will write something just for me.”
This is especially important if you have a lofty or hard to achieve resolution. If you’re only thinking of your end-game it may be hard to work on the now. Set smaller goals along the way. For example, if you resolved to get a 4.0 this semester you may set goals like, “I will only go out one night of the week,” or “I will study for 15 minutes every night.” These little steps bring your larger goal closer each day.
Sometimes just telling someone that you have a goal is enough to get you to do it. The support of your friends and loved ones might be just the thing that keeps you going. You can get extra encouragement and incentives from your friends. Some may even have resolved to do the same things as you, so you could set up a competitive contest among you to keep you pushing towards your goals. I’ve shared my resolution with you, so go share yours with a friend!
Sure maybe it sounds cliche but there really is no better way to make sure you do something than to actually enjoy it. If you resolved to work-out more, find an activity you like! Maybe there’s a new dance class you’ve been secretly wanting to take. Are you trying to study more this year? Get you’re friends together from time to time and make your own silly trivia-game of it. There is no reason you can’t work hard and enjoy it too.
Kay is a student assistant with the SUNY Office of New Media. She is a University at Albany undergraduate working towards a double major in English and East Asian studies with a double minor in communications and film.