Making Academic and Professional Resolutions Stick
As the old year ends and a new one begins many of us are making resolutions for the year ahead. Whether it's doing more research for essays, staying on top of the marking, trying something new in the classroom, or even learning a new skill, this is a great time to set goals and motivate yourself.
But while most of us have made new years resolutions at one time or another, just as many of us have failed to achieve some resolutions. So how can we make them stick?
Choose the right resolution:
Setting the right resolutions for you is important. Make sure that they're things that really matter to you, not to other people. Saying you'll exercise every day is great, but is that actually what you care about, or what others have told you to care about? Would you rather focus on improving your writing or learning a language? Don't get drawn into following other people's dreams.
Thinking about how you'll achieve your resolutions can also help. SMART goals are useful for this, and Victoria Grefer's guidance for writers' resolutions is as applicable to students, teachers or anyone else trying to get motivated.
There's lots of guidance out there on setting goals, and it's worth taking a bit of time to read it and make goals that really work. But what it all really comes down to is this - think about the details.
Celebrating with yourself:
Find ways to reward yourself for achieving your resolutions. Psychology shows that positive reinforcement is important in changing behavior. Give yourself a prize for hitting your goals, whether it's an hour on the X-box for finishing an essay early, a fresh cup of coffee for writing five new lesson plans, or whatever suits you. Consider giving yourself better rewards for unbroken streaks of achievement. It'll stop you becoming bored by the rewards and encourage you to be consistent.
Sharing with others
I have a terrible tendency to keep my goals to myself, and I know many others feel the same way. One good reason is that not everybody cares if you completed an assignment on time or went for a run at lunchtime.
But it's more than that. Goals become more powerful if we tell others about how we're doing. We get more of a buzz of achievement, but we also feel worse if we publicly fail. Keeping them secret is a way of defending ourselves from that feeling, but it also removes one of your best motivators.
So find a group of people you can share your goals and achievements with. Whether it's close friends or an online group that shares your interest, let them know. Make your triumphs and failures public and feel the difference it makes.
Whatever your goals for the new year, good luck with them. Personally, I plan to write two chapters of a novel a week and to exercise every week day. What about you? Share your resolutions below. Apply a little pressure to yourself.
Picture by Felix Montino via Flickr creative commons
About Andrew Knighton
I'm a writer and ex-teacher. You can find more of my writing on education at: http://www.degreediary.com/bloggers/27 I also have a blog on reading and writing: https://andrewknighton.wordpress.com/