Believe it or not, 2019 is almost over. As a high school student, I didn’t take the time to think about the year that had passed or the upcoming one. I was usually in straight survival mode, just trying to get to Christmas break. Once on break, I didn’t dare think about school or how I could better myself in the new year. As an adult, I can only wish I had played less video gaming and done more planning for my future.
Don’t get me wrong; holiday vacations are a time to take a break from the routine of the school year. However, out of the 10+ days you get off, it would be beneficial if you put aside a few hours to focus on your future. By simply committing to sitting down for a few hours one afternoon after Christmas, you will be setting yourself up for success for the upcoming year.
Setting resolutions for the new year is a popular topic and exercise for most people this time of the year. Millions of Americans commit to making changes such as eating better, exercising more, switching jobs, or starting a new project. The reason so many people have to make resolutions to change bad habits is that they never took the time to prevent them from becoming habits in the first place. Another reason why this exercise is so crucial and with several days off in a row coming up, there is no reason not to do it.
Year In Review
You can start this exercise by thinking about the year that just passed. Specifically, list three things that went well. This could include excellent grades, new habits, making a sports team, or anything that you look back on with joy or pride. Once you list them out, think about what you did to make them happen. What positive habits did you create to reach these milestones? By doing this, you are accomplishing two critical things. First, you realize what works for you and what solid habits you already have.
Second, you have proven to yourself that you can handle stressful situations and accomplish your goals. When it comes time to start looking at colleges, you can enter the journey with confidence, knowing that you have already had many of the positive habits you will need to navigate such a complicated process. You will also look at that list of habits and figure out how to best put them to use.
As you already know, you can’t live in the past. If you are a frequent reader of this blog, you know my message is based on being prepared for the future. I cannot tell you how many college grads tell me they regret not planning for the next steps in life. Therefore, your time during this project should be focused on what’s coming next for you in 2020.
What major life events are taking place? Are you taking the SAT’s? Are you visiting colleges? Perhaps, you will turn the legal age to start working and plan on finding your first job. List all of these out so you can see just how vital these upcoming 12 months are. Then, think about if you are ready to tackle these significant life milestones. If not, what specific things do you need to accomplish? If the SATs are on your list and you have poor study habits, then this is the time to make a resolution to improve those habits. If you are getting ready to enter the workforce via part-time work, then resolve to find a job where you will be challenged to grow. Choose a job that will help you become a better person. Ideally, you will work somewhere that you can mention on your college application
Create Sub-Resolutions and a Timeline
The majority of new years resolutions fail. This is because people set broad goals without mapping out how they are going to get there. Furthermore, they do not acknowledge that they need to make specific changes to reach their desired destination. For example, “losing weight” is a weak resolution because it’s too vague. There is no way to gauge success or pre-determined deadlines designed to hold you accountable. Also, most people say they are going to lose weight but admit that they need to change there eating habits or commit to incorporating exercise into their daily routine.
The point I am making is that if all you do is make resolutions such as “Study more” or “get a good job,” then the odds of the resolution creating a lasting impact are very slim. You need to break these resolutions down into attainable sub-resolutions. Once you do this, then you can assign yourself deadlines. This will give you small goals to reach for and motivation or completing them in a timely fashion.
Below I have taken the popular resolution of “Study More” and broken it down as an example to follow:
|Original Resolution||Study More|
|New Resolution||Breakdown studying into multiple nights instead of just one|
|Sub Resolution #1||Study for 1 hour per night leading up to exam day|
|Sub Resolution #2||Complete Sub Resolution #1 for 5 straight exams|
|Timeline||Complete Sub-Resolutions #1 and #2 by March 1st|
As you can see, you have taken a broad goal and transformed it into specific mini-goals. Each time you learn of an upcoming test, you will schedule 1 hour of studying each night the week leading up to the test. You want to ensure this habit sticks, so you are committing to not only doing it for the first test of the new year but for accomplishing the feat for five straight exams. Lastly, by setting a goal of early in the year, you are motivating yourself to complete those five consecutive exams as soon as possible. If you do not set a deadline, you may slip and figure you have all year to complete the sub-resolution.
The theme of this new year should be “Preparing for the future,” and there is not a better time than to start now. You can enjoy Christmas and the days afterward. However, before the new year hits, set aside a few hours to complete the tasks above. This process will help you create better habits for not only the new year but every year after that.
Kyle Grappone is an educational coach helping students prepare for the next steps in life.