With February upon us, most of us have admitted defeat when it comes to New Year’s resolutions. Year in, year out, in an attempt to reinvent our future selves, millions of us declare 1st January as the start of a new beginning. But how important is this? Is the nation’s obsession with goal setting actually getting us anywhere? Essentially, our resolutions fail because they’re unrealistic, unspecific and based on massive amounts of non-existent will power. Our unattainable targets almost always result in an uncontrollable spiral of self- loathing that validates our failure. So then, let’s move away from making endless lists of unachievable resolutions, and instead focus on becoming better students. Rather than committing to getting a six pack or attempting to take up countless new hobbies, why not concentrate on getting more out of your degree?
Believe it or not, becoming a more successful student can be straightforward and rewarding. Improving academically involves setting small, achievable targets that contribute to a long term goal. These changes don’t rely on quick fixes or fad diets, but involve constant minor adjustments that have permanent results. Making little, realistic changes allow us to monitor and admire our progress, so we’re not setting ourselves up for failure! Academic success can be achieved by following four simple rules:
- Make habits, not changes.
It’s important that in trying to meet targets, we make small changes into habits. Revision of lecture notes or getting more sleep can be pointless if you only do it for a week. Committing to a change every day or on the same days of each week lets it become a habit without you even noticing. Before long, our improvements become the norm and laziness feels unfamiliar. Our brains function better when following structured routines, so we benefit more from long term lifestyle changes rather than random bouts of improvement. So find a weekly routine that works for you and stick to it!
- Stop procrastinating.
Obviously, this is easier said than done, but the results can be amazing. Going to the library all day is pointless if you don’t actually get anything done there. Often, doing tiny amounts of work all day doesn’t achieve much but leaves you feeling mentally exhausted. Instead, remind yourself that a morning of concentrated work can be rewarded in the evening. Working at home can be distracting and so finding a quiet, pleasant working environment can make a lot of difference. Additionally, making small lists each day gives you direction and prevents you from going off task. Working more efficiently allows you to get more done in less time.
- Participation is key.
If you don’t attend lectures or seminars then you make your degree even harder for yourself. Similarly, if you’re constantly going to lectures feeling tired or hungover then you might as well not be there! Falling behind can make you unmotivated and trying to catch up on four weeks of work can be daunting. It is possible to have a social life and academically succeed, but a work- life balance is crucial if you want to do well.
- Making motivated friends.
Making motivated course friends can be invaluable at university. Spending time with people who are committed to your course can encourage you to have a similar attitude. Having a motivated course friend is beneficial for two reasons: it gives you a study partner when deadlines are approaching and also lets you celebrate together once exams are over!
(Image: Seawolf Living)