Monday, January 11, 2010

If all the year were playing holidays

If all the year were playing holidays,
To sport would be as tedious as to work.
Henry IV, Part 1, 1. 2

This line from Shakespeare always reminds me of why holidays are so well deserved after having worked hard. It is important to enjoy our holidays, but unfortunately there always comes a time when we do have to go back to work. Hard work is what makes holidays so much fun in the first place. However, for many people at this time of year it is especially difficult to transition out of holiday mode and back into study mode, and they soon find themselves struggling to catch up with their classes and work load.

As a new year presents itself, it might then be a good time to set some goals for the upcoming term in order to stay motivated and focused. Some academic resolutions are a good way of forcing yourself to improve simple study habits, in order to get better marks.

This year, I sat down to make some personal New Year’s resolutions and quickly found that I had violated a very important principle of goals setting: be realistic. I looked at my list of ten resolutions and quickly narrowed it down to three important areas of my life that needed improvement. When we set unrealistic expectations for ourselves, we doom ourselves to failure because our expectations are so high that there is no chance of meeting them, let alone getting started. The key is to start small. Set small but specific goals for yourself that you stand a chance of accomplishing, and then build from there.

One other strategy that has worked well for me in the past has been to find ways to remind myself of my goals. Some people tell a friend, so that their friend will remind them when they slip up. You can also write them down and post them in a visible place, so that you can see them on a regular basis. Last year, I put my New Year’s resolutions in an envelope and taped them to the calendar month of March. As time passed, I eventually found a reminder for myself, so that my resolutions didn’t slip away after the first week of January. I took stock of my progress and then taped the resolutions to the month of June, so that I could find them again a little further on down the road. The resolutions that I set in January stayed with me for a good portion of the year, because I kept coming back to them.

Related LAC handout: