How to make New Year’s resolutions you’ll actually stick to

Coffee mug, notebook and pen

Looking forward to a ‘new year, new me’ in 2021?

It’s barely been a hot minute since you put your pen down at your last exam and already it’s time to celebrate the turn of another year. Amongst all the festive celebrations and summer relaxation, you are determined to reach your goals in 2021. But where to start?

Murdoch University’s Head of Psychology, Dr Petra Skeffington, has a few tips and tricks to help you narrow down your goals for the new year and make sure you see them through.

1. Pick your priorities

Everyone loves a good list but when it comes to your New Year’s resolutions, it’s best to keep it simple.

“Research tells us less than half of New Year’s resolutions are maintained by February. Having too many resolutions is a fast track to failure, as the volume of change you are trying to achieve can become overwhelming.

“When setting a New Year’s Resolution, consider what your goals are, what values are underlying your resolutions, and how you would like your life to be different. Consistent small changes throughout the year are likely to be more successful that one drastic change at the start of the year.”

2. Be realistic

365 days may seem like all the time in the world but the combination of work, exam study, and holidays breaks can make it trickier to balance your time. Dr Skeffington recommends chunking out your goals to achieve them bit-by-bit throughout the year. 

 “Start with a major goal in mind and work towards it by breaking it down into a series of smaller goals. Any large goal can be broken into smaller milestones, but sometimes we need assistance to do this. January is a good time to see a psychologist to assist with achievable goal setting and to create a plan for growth or self-improvement.”

For example, want to start eating healthier foods? Perhaps you could commit to meal-prepping every Sunday to get ready for the week ahead. Want to complete all your weekly uni readings before the tute? Give yourself an hour each week to plan for your upcoming tutes and lectures and organise what you need to do (then put the time aside to actually do it).

3. Give yourself deadlines

Now you know what your priorities are, it’s time to work out a timeframe to achieve them.

“Having a clear outcome you are working towards each week and each month will keep you on track more effectively than one large goal with an unclear deadline.

“The SMART goal setting framework is a great guide to follow – make sure you set goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time Sensitive.”

4. Keep yourself accountable

To make sure you’re kept accountable for your goals, tell a friend about your plans, declare your resolutions on social media, or write up an official ‘New Year’s Resolution contract’ and get your friend to oversee it.

“Don’t keep your resolution a secret. Having social support and accountability to your goal will also help to keep you on track. Let your friends and family know about the goal you have set, and plan together how they can best encourage you to stay on track and succeed with your New Year’s Resolution.”

Looking for support to stick to your goals for the new year? Get in touch with our Student Services team for advice and support on your studies. Or discover our study options available for international students

Posted on:

17 Dec 2020

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