Thursday, 7 January 2021

New year, same me?

Jessica shares her experience of the pressures of New Year's resolutions but also how to realistically maintain them.

- Jessica Flora


New Year's resolutions are often highly talked about during this time of year. Although they can be great in helping people re-focus their life and build towards a goal, a downfall is that individuals often feel immense pressure to maintain goals and compare themselves with others. By all means, it's a good thing for someone to reach for a goal - but if that goal seems unattainable or unrealistic to an individual, it's easy to become disheartened and fall vulnerable to feelings of stress. Here are some tips for setting realistic and flexible New Year's resolutions that have helped me focus throughout the year:

1. Don't feel that you have to wait for next year to reset your goals
 
A few months into the year you may feel that the January goals you set are not going quite how you wanted them to, and that you may need to re-adjust your goals (due to something like a pandemic!). Don't give up and wait until next year - just re-adjust them! Each day gives you the chance to do something new, so why not change your goal in the here and now? Fine-tuning your goals and goal plans according to your situation makes you more likely to achieve them. So, by next year you can happily tick it off your list, or even keep it going if it's a long-term goal. Remember: some progress is better than none!

2. Setting monetary goals

You may want to set a high target when it comes to money, but try setting smaller targets throughout the year. For example, you could aim to save £30 by the end of January, then £60 overall by the end of February, and so on. Try not to spend money on things you can easily save on; for example, limit the number of takeaways you eat every week, and set the money you would have spent aside, in your savings account. Over time these things will mount up, and can be used for future purposes like putting a deposit down on a house, buying a car, etc. Just remember, don't become disheartened if you cannot afford to put extra money aside for that month - always do what you feel is best.

3. Setting health goals

Exercising is a common goal for most people; however, it can be a challenging thing to maintain and if individuals don't see improvements, they may lose interest. An important tip for keeping an exercise goal is tracking your progress and researching the "Do's and Do not's" of fitness. Remember that some things may not work for you, and that's okay! Keep researching new forms of exercise to try until you find something that works for you. It is important to remember that things take time, so don't expect to see results immediately, and always work out safely.

4. Grades

Wanting to better your grades is not a bad thing at all. However, you may endlessly tire yourself out with overworking and overstressing, losing yourself in the process. Instead of trying to deal with this on your own, email the teachers/lecturers that mark your work and ask them specifically how you can improve. Look into intervention classes for your specific subject/area, as they may be able to provide you with help and guidance. Remember: it may take time for your grades to improve, but don't stop trying!

5. New skills/hobbies

Wanting to learn a new skill or take up a new hobby can be intimidating and challenging, especially during the current pandemic. My advice is to try as many different skills and hobbies before committing to anything, to see what you do and don't like. You may surprise yourself with what you find. If you find yourself feeling disheartened at something difficult, remember that practice makes perfect, so keep on trying no matter what. 
 
My overall message is this: anything is possible if you have the motivation to work for it, and baby steps are key when trying to reach a big goal.


If you're feeling overwhelmed, check out our previous blog, "Taking things one day at a time" by Adam. You can also learn more about improving your mental wellbeing on Student Space.


Hi, I'm Jessica and I study an undergraduate Psychology degree. I feel there is an immense societal pressure and expectation on students to be high achievers. Mental health should not be stigmatised, but should be seen as an important and serious issue that needs addressing.

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