The New Year can be exciting for college students, with heading back to campus, seeing all your friends after break, and second semester around the corner. But what isn’t so exciting is the hype about New Year’s resolutions.
You see them all over social media: vows to “get fit” (complete with 30-day challenges), earn a 4.0 this semester, and save X number of dollars. Others gripe that if people really wanted to change their habits, they don’t have to wait for a new calendar year to do it. Wherever you fall, there can be a lot of build-up and pressure to make resolutions around January 1—or at least think about what you want to change in the upcoming year.
If you had a really great fall semester, you might be looking forward to keeping that momentum up. If your first semester didn’t go as planned, you might have a heavy burden on your shoulders for the upcoming one. If you gained the “Freshman 15,” you might promise to lose it. If you managed to ward off those pounds, you might vow to gain more muscle and continue with your healthy habits. You get the gist.
Those resolutions are infamously hard to live up to. Instead, I compiled a list of 10 attainable New Year’s goals for college students. Not resolutions, per se, but things that you can strive for in 2016 that will make you feel really proud of yourself.
1. Stick to your commitments (even if that means fewer of them)
It’s easy to be super enthusiastic about clubs and organizations at the start of the semester, only to have your attendance at meetings trickle off as the months wear on and your workload gets heavier. Try to be more consistent in your attendance and your commitment to those organizations you really want to give your time to. That means being realistic and honest with yourself: will you still want to be involved all five of those clubs you signed up for come April?
2. Find at least one way of exercise you find enjoyable and fun
If you’re like me and never step foot in a gym (and can’t even imagine running outside), the thought of working out in the New Year is enough to make you shudder. However, you need to keep your body healthy, and exercise is an essential way of accomplishing that. Whether it’s joining an open gym basketball game or weekly hikes or walks with your friends, find one way of getting active in 2016 that you won’t dread.
3. Work on putting your phone down
Again, if you’re like me, your phone is probably glued to your hand, whether you’re in your dorm, walking to class, or even hanging out with people (rude!). Try to not check social media, texts, Yik Yak, etc., for a few hours at a time each day. You really don’t need to be connected constantly. (And you might actually feel happier and less FOMO-y the more you disconnect!)
Related: The Balancing Act of Social Media
4. Stop comparing yourself to other people
“Comparison is the thief of joy,” it’s said, but even so—we all do it. Whether it’s on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc., we all have those people we can’t help but check their feed to see what fabulous outfits, activities, and adventures they’ve been up to. It’s important to remember that everyone puts their best foot forward on social media, so all you’re seeing is the highlight reel, not the every day. You gotta believe that you and your life are just as magical and as intriguing as that girl in your English class, because you are!
5. Compliment one person per day
When someone randomly compliments you, do you smile? I hope so! Whether it’s someone you pass every day on the way to class or the guy who sits in front of you in lecture or the lady that serves you in the dining hall, giving them a simple compliment not only brightens their day but will make you feel all warm and fuzzy too.
6. Go to bed and wake up at more consistent times
Studies show that lack of sleep and inconsistent bedtimes and wake-ups can lead to a lot of health issues. Depending on your class and commitment schedule, figure out a (fairly) consistent bedtime and time to get up in the morning. Having a steady routine will help you feel less tired and be healthier overall.
7. Reach out to family more
It’s very easy to go days without texting your dad or calling your aunt, especially if you go to school far from home. This year, work on checking in on your immediate family and relatives more. They will love hearing from you, and it feels good to talk to familiar people, especially when the semester starts to get hard or that group project gets extra frustrating.
8. Figure out how you spend your money
It’s never too early to start managing your finances and making a budget. Of course, as a college student, chances are you aren’t rolling in dough, but keeping track of what you’re spending your money on and how much (if anything) you’re saving is always a good thing. Your 25-year-old self will thank you when it’s a habit! Plus, when you find out you’re spending $400 a month on Starbucks, you might just invest in your own latte maker and cut that cost in half.
9. Figure out how you spend your time
For one week of your semester, keep track of everything you do at half hour intervals. Try it—I dare ya. You’ll be amazed at how much time you spend on social media and how little you spend sleeping! Just like you would with your money, it never hurts to budget your time as well, and you might be surprised at how much time you actually have to do the things you want!
10. Spend at least five minutes a day reflecting/mediating in silence
College can be stressful, and we live in a society where there is constant noise and action. Think about it: when was the last time you just sat in real silence, with no music or phone or friends talking to occupy you (and you weren’t sleeping)? Probably not recently and maybe never (or at least in my case that is true!). But there are huge health benefits to even a little bit of meditating, like five minutes a day. And there are plenty of apps that can help, like Calm and Headspace. By sitting in silence, you allow your body to relax, and you can center your thoughts around a goal for the day, a mantra for yourself, or nothing at all. It may seem difficult at first—I couldn’t even sit in silence for two minutes when I first started—but it gets easier and more rewarding each day.
These are goals—not resolutions
The hype around the New Year and New Year’s resolutions can be exhausting, but the start of a new calendar year can still be a great time for a clean slate on which you can figure out what you want to achieve in the months ahead. Instead of viewing these as “resolutions” you can potentially abandon or fail, focus on a few (or many) goals for your health, your enjoyment, your achievements, your relationships, and more!
For more advice for your nonacademic college life, visit our Student Life section!