SHORT TERM GOALS, NOT LONG TERM
The hype surrounding New Year’s Resolutions is outstanding. There’s a lot of pressure to make a real commitment to bettering your life in one way or another, but these kinds of resolutions can be intimidating or discouraging and rarely inspire perfect follow-through, which only results in self-disappointment. Try setting a goal you can accomplish within a month, and when you’ve succeeded, use that confidence to set a new, more challenging one.
Optimism is KEY. Not to be confused with naiveté or total disregard for reality, optimism is simply making the best of a bad situation. Find the silver lining. It’s important to learn from your mistakes, but there is no point in dwelling on them. Take on a fresh perspective and think positive—be objective if you have to be; sometimes emotionally distancing yourself is the best medicine. Suddenly, intimidating tasks will not seem quite so daunting. Long term worries will loosen their hold on you. You’ll start to see positivity all around you—it’s contagious. You’ll be surprised by what you can get through if you stay strong and keep smiling.
LET GO OF STALE DOWNERS
This includes regrets, sorrows, bitterness, remorse and disappointments. Each time you sense your thoughts tilting downhill, ask yourself this question: can YOU do anything to make it better? If the answer is “no”, then let it go. Don’t waste your life stewing over things that are out of your hands.
KICK A BAD HABIT
Start with one you know you can manage in order to minimize discouragement, like placing a firm limit on the use of the Snooze button in the morning, for instance. Small victories build confidence and prepare you to tackle more deep-seeded habits like procrastination, nervous nail-biting or stress-eating.
TWEAK YOUR ROUTINE
This is the time to MAKE time. Take a good hard, realistic look at your schedule as it is right now and decide whether you could be spending your time more effectively; whether that means focusing more time on academic or professional activities, or alternatively, taking more time for yourself. Be honest with yourself when calculating how much time you spend watching TV, surfing the internet, or likewise squandering time away. It might be a good idea to take up an activity you enjoy AND can feel productive doing, like volunteering for a good cause, learning to cook for yourself, exercising a creative muscle or researching a topic you’ve always been interested in but never had time to learn about.
LOOK IN THE MIRROR
Figuratively, that is. Psychologist E. Troy Higgins introduced the theory of self-discrepancy and the three sections of the “self,” being Actual, Ideal and Ought. Think about how your “Actual”, current self measures up to the kind of person you want to be (“Ideal”) and the kind of person you should try harder to be (“Ought”). Don’t be too hard on yourself, just face your flaws and see what you can try to improve. This is the ongoing process of self-actualizing (check out Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for more info http://www.businessballs.com/maslow.htm )
BE THE BEE – TREAT YOURSELF TO A NEW EXPERIENCE
“The men of experiment are like the ant, they only collect and use; the reasoners resemble spiders, who make cobwebs out of their own substance. But the bee takes the middle course: it gathers its material from the flowers of the garden and field, but transforms and digests it by a power of its own.” – Francis Bacon
Don’t underestimate the effect of experience on you as a person. First-hand experience is invaluable—it is vital for personal development. If you’re not one for trying new things, consider the new understandings that come along with them. Take a chance, test your boundaries and toe the line of the unfamiliar as much as you possibly can—it will only help you to grow as a person. You can never have too much experience unless you are Iron Chef Bobby Flay applying for a job at McDonalds.
SAVE YOUR MONEY
If you don’t have a savings account, OPEN ONE. You don’t need a whackload of money to dump into it at the get-go, and even small deposits build up over time. Get a travel mug and skip buying coffee by making your own. Hold off on making hefty purchases until you’ve found the best deal in town. RESIST IMPULSE BUYING.
Read up on the magic of compound interest if you want to see some real results.
SWITCH UP YOUR STYLE
Modern psychological research speculates that our personalities reach full development between the ages of 21 and 25. Before that stage of your life, you are a dynamic being who is perpetually growing and changing in the process of developing the personality you will have for the rest of your life. If your personality is still evolving, there’s no reason for your appearance to stay stagnant. Don’t pay attention to trends if you’ve never had interest in them, just try on something different, maybe something you wouldn’t normally pick for yourself. You might be surprised to find a certain freedom in breaking away from your typical style and testing your comfort zone.
WRITE AN EMAIL TO THE FUTURE YOU
Alright, this one’s a bit cheesy, but there’s no harm in giving it a go. Follow this link (http://futureme.org/) to write an email to yourself and set a date in the future for it to be sent. It could be in a month, six months, a year, whenever you want. You can remind yourself of something you worry you might lose sight of. You can vent all your emotions and laugh at them long after they’ve faded away. Or you can even write yourself an inspirational note of encouragement. An email like that (even if it IS from yourself) might brighten up a glum day a year from now.
Well, that’s it for 2009. I’m sure I can speak for all us girls at Athena by wishing you a safe New Year’s Eve and the best of luck for 2010!