It’s that time of year again! Shortly after the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, many of us create resolutions to make 2014 the best year yet. Unfortunately, according to a study conducted by the University of Scranton, only 8% of resolution-makers will be successful. New Year’s Resolutions are notoriously short-lived, but they don’t have to be! The following tips can help you beat the odds and have you looking back at your year with a strong sense of accomplishment.
1: Get Healthy + Fit
Improving health and fitness is by far the most common New Year’s Resolution (as is evident by the sudden surge in crowds at the ARC!). It also happens to be the most commonly broken resolution, with gym attendance levels back to normal by mid-February. Keep your motivation high with the following tips:
- Prepare most or all of your meals once a week. Meal preparation takes up a lot of your time. Making sauces, smoothies, pastas, soups, etc. and then refrigerating or freezing them allows you to always have a healthy meal ready to eat. You’ll also be able to steer clear of faster, less healthy options. Try checking out fitness blogs for delicious ways to stay healthy: Witness Her Fitness | My Healthy Dish | Ripped Recipes | The Gracious Pantry
- Schedule gym trips in a planner. With the times and locations of classes varying throughout the week, it can be hard to find the perfect window of time to make it to the gym. Take a few minutes to look at your weekly schedule on Sunday evening, and schedule your gym trips like appointments you can’t miss. This will allow you to prioritize your fitness goals and help you avoid skipping exercise.
- Mix it up. Running 30 minutes on a treadmill every day can get incredibly boring. Try something new! Variety is important in a fitness program – it helps prevent boredom, which can cause you to lose interest in exercise and lose sight of your goals. Take advantage of the variety of classes offered at the ARC, switch up your weight lifting routine, or select a different fitness focus for each day you workout. Learn more about Around the ARC in 15 Days where you can stay fit and win prizes!
- Workout in the morning. Though not for everyone, making exercise the first thing you do in the morning is a foolproof way to ensure that other things don’t overtake your fitness commitment. As the day goes on, to-do lists grow with readings, assignments, meetings, etc. If you’re feeling stressed, choosing to skip a workout can often be the result. So instead of letting your workouts slide, make them a priority when you wake up! An added bonus is that there are less people at the gym in the morning, so you’ll have more choice of machines, weights, etc.
- Lay out gym clothes the night before. By preparing the night before, you give yourself a friendly morning reminder of the workout you planned. Also, seeing your clothes (and resolution) waiting for you is especially helpful when you need motivation and a good reason to get out of bed.
- Set small, achievable goals with the big goal in mind. Ambitious goals can be exciting to make, but can also lead to intimidation and fears of failure. Encourage yourself by creating “stepping stone” goals that are achievable; you’ll feel consistent motivation as you meet each of your mini goals en route to the end goal. For example, if your end goal is to run a half-marathon later in the year, break it down into smaller monthly goals, beginning with the basics, and challenging yourself to run a little further and a little faster each month. By breaking down your end goal into manageable parts, you’ll remain focused and motivated!
- Expect slipups. Resolutions will no doubt be challenging, and sometimes you’ll wonder if it’s worth continuing. Just remember: missing a workout doesn’t mean you failed at reaching your goals. If you’re facing adversity, schedule a makeup trip to the gym, and you’ll be back on track!
- Surround yourself with motivation. As the days pass on, it can be difficult to remember (or believe in) the goals you set for yourself on January 1st. Write your resolution on a sticky note and post it somewhere you will see it daily. Also, try following a motivational account on Instagram, such as @motivationquotes and @teamnodaysoff. Fun reminders can provide you with inspiration when you need it. You can also go to the gym with friends, and encourage each other to complete the workout you planned.
2: Spend Less, Save More
Managing a student budget can definitely be a challenge. Costs seem to pop up everywhere, from tuition to books to groceries to rent to entertainment, the list goes on. But there are lots of tips you can use to save money! Try these:
- Use cash: Set yourself a weekly budget, and take out your “spending money” once a week. Making purchases on debit and credit cards can lead to overspending, because you might not consider how your purchases are adding up. When you can see exactly how much cash is in your wallet, you know how much you can spend to keep within your weekly budget.
- Track your purchases: Keep cash receipts, and pull up debit/credit summaries online once a week. What kind of expenses do you have? Consider where you can cut back – for example, if you often buy bottled drinks on campus, try packing a water bottle in your backpack instead!
- Go Green: The possibilities are endless with this one. If your house is drafty, wear more layers instead of turning up the thermostat. Use compact fluorescent light bulbs whenever possible. Limit your time in the shower – hot water heating uses one-third of the energy in a home. Cook more food at home to avoid spending all your money on takeout. For more ideas, check out these links: The Nest | Queen’s Student Financial Planner
3: Spend More Time with Family
Especially if you live far from home, it can be difficult to spend time with your family during the school year. Whatever your situation, consider some of the following ideas for spending more time with your family:
- Plan trips home in advance. Choose a weekend or two to head home, and write these trips into your schedule so you don’t double-book your time. A weekend at home can help you relax, reconnect with your family, and get the sleep you need to start fresh on Monday.
- Choose a weekly time to call/Skype home. A 15 minute catch-up with your parents/siblings/grandparents etc. can help you all feel better connected.
- Find an activity you all enjoy: Whether it’s a board game, cooking, outdoor exercise, etc., find an activity you can enjoy with your family, and plan to make it happen! Common interests are a great way to bond with your family and create lasting memories.
4: Improve Grades
When grades are released from first semester, no matter how good they are, there’s always room for improvement. Whether you want to apply to graduate school, keep up a scholarship, or just work harder, improving your grades is feasible! Here’s how:
- Take classes you enjoy: When you’re interested in your course topics, you’ll be more likely to do readings, attend lectures, write thoughtful assignments, and learn more!
- Take notes on the readings: Whether you highlight your course pack or type up important points from your textbook, taking notes on readings will help you remember key points, which will come in handy for assignments, tests, tutorials, and exams.
- Go to office hours: Professors and TAs are paid to help you learn. Office hours are a great time to ask questions, get help with assignments, clarify expectations for tests and exams, and get to know your teachers. Make use of the one-on-one time, especially for big classes.
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