Happy New Semester!
Is it me or is the first week a lot more exhausting than it should be? I mean, maybe it’s the way students are packed like sardines in the buses at peak hours or how it’s a struggle to get down College Ave right after classes get out. There seems to be more people packed into any one building than you could possibly meet in a lifetime.
Ok, enough complaining.
Still, the beginning of the semester always seems to be the most optimistic. Everything is shinier and glowing with new possibilities. The work on the syllabi seems manageable and you can see those weeks where you’ll have two exams, three quizzes, and a paper in addition to your normal amount of work. But those are weeks away, and the rest of the semester will be a blast. There’s just enough room in your schedule to join a new club or put more effort into one you’re already a member of. You could eat healthier and go to the gym more, spend more time with your friends or make a bunch of new ones. Maybe you want to work on your love life or do well in that new internship or simply improve your GPA.
Whatever it is you want from it, a new semester often can feel a lot like a new year: full of potential just waiting for you to seize it. Whether you have a vague concept of what change you want or have a specific list of goals, now is the time to make an effort to make sure they happen. This is by no means a definitive list of ways to meet your goals since those are different for everybody, but it’s a list of ideas that I’ve found work for me and that the internet says work for other people when achieving your goals.
1.Know what you want.
It’s pointless to make goals if they’re simply ‘improve my grades’, ‘get in shape’, or ‘be more involved’ because you’re far less likely to achieve anything. Instead, be more specific. Say that you want to ‘get a 4.0’, ‘lose 10 pounds’, or ‘make friends outside my major’. Once a goal is clearly defined it is easier to plan for it.
If you have something specific you want from the semester sit down and write down what you need to do it: go to a meeting, get out of bed earlier, meeting up with friends more regularly. Just write down what you need to do. Do so both specifically and generally. If you want to get in shape, don’t just write down go to gym, write ‘go to gym 4 times’ and add that you’ll do strength training for twenty minutes and cardio for an hour or go to a certain flex pass class every week. If you want to be more involved in an extracurricular, plan ahead for both classwork and the extracurricular so that you have enough time to get everything done. Get a calendar, write a to do list, and make sure that you know what you have to do to reach your goals for the semester.
3.Hold yourself accountable
Making a plan is great, but it’s useless if you don’t actually do it. Set reminders on your phone, write it down, or get a friend to help. For the former two, it’s a form of self regulation and are rather self explanatory, while the latter adds a second party. There’s the common example of having someone go to the gym with you. To help improve grades, a study group is great way to be sure you review material for classes. Try a couple of different things and see what works best for you.
4.Track your progress
Right now it’s very easy to be gung-ho about maintaining new habits and saying you’ll achieve all these goals, but generally as the semester moves forward and there’s more work to do it can become harder to stick to your plan, particularly if you feel as though you’ve hit a plateau. However, that plateau can be avoided or reduced if you keep track of your progress, be it the grades received, the amount of weight you’ve lost, or the number of new people you’ve met. This way, when you’re feeling discouraged you can look back and see how much progress you’ve made toward your goal.
5.Reward yourself for milestones
This doesn’t mean give yourself a pint of Ben and Jerry’s every time you lose a pound, but give yourself a small reward for each significant milestone, such as a night off, a short trip, or making a purchase that you’ve wanted to for a while. This could help with any of the issues mentioned under the last point as well as give some extra incentive to continue toward your goal during a mid-semester slump.
Hopefully this list was helpful, I’ve been using it when trying to plan ahead for the semester. Good luck!