Many students make promises to themselves that they hope to keep. Whether it’s a New Year’s resolution to practice healthier habits or good intentions at the beginning of the semester to get straight A’s in your classes, a fresh start can happen any time you set your mind to it. Use these tips to help you organize your thoughts and stay motivated to reach your goals.
- Plan It Out: Decide what you want and visualize yourself accomplishing that goal. According to research using brain imagery, visualization works because neurons in the brain, those electrically excitable cells that transmit information, interpret imagery as equivalent to a real-life action. When we visualize an act, the brain generates an impulse that tells our neurons to "perform" the movement. This creates a new neural pathway that primes our body to act in a way consistent to what we imagined.
- Break It Down: Make a list of the reasons you want to achieve these goals and exactly how you will achieve them. Start with the big picture and then break it down into smaller, more realistic actions. If your dream is to be a doctor, there are everyday steps you can take to reach that big goal. Studying regularly will help you understand and memorize all your material, so you’ll do well on your exams and MCAT. Those high test scores will help you get into the medical school you want to attend, and then those good studying habits you already formed will make you a knowledgeable doctor. Tie your everyday actions to the big picture to remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing along the way.
- Switch It Up: You may become distracted, weary, busy or tired during your semester and lose sight of your goals. Don’t be afraid to recommit. Get back in the gym. Head to the library. Change up the furniture in your room. Set an earlier bed time. Rearrange your schedule, your room and your life to make time and space for your goals. Change your old habits and then change them again until you find a way to make your day align with your priorities.
- Reward Yourself: Reward yourself for doing what you set out to do, a little at a time. A five- minute social media break is a good way to reset after 30 minutes of studying. One sweet treat on Saturday night is a good reward for a week of healthy eating. The most important thing is you don’t burn yourself out. Pace yourself and keep your expectations realistic, but don’t be afraid to reward yourself for the hard work you have done.
Every goal is achievable with these tips. Start by seeing yourself at the finish line and work backwards, dedicating time each day to focus on becoming that accomplished version of yourself.