At the beginning of December, your greatest concern is probably not your New Year’s Resolutions. Project Due Date, finals week, and the Christmas season are coming much sooner than the ball drop. But getting a head start on your New Year’s Resolutions can help you make sure they actually stick for the long haul.
Set Your Resolutions Early
Creating a resolution that sticks is hard. Simply saying, “I want to organize my homework better,” isn’t going to cut it. You need to make your goals S.M.A.R.T, or specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. When you set your resolutions early, you have time to decide the order of importance for those goals, and your plan for carrying them out.
Tip: When setting early resolutions, make them simple and specific. For example, if you want to organize your homework, you could try 100 different methods. The end of that endeavor is frustrating and your homework probably won’t be any more organized. Instead, resolve to take one small action step to organize your work like purchasing a quality folder or notebook that will help you keep papers and handwritten class notes neat and orderly or cleaning out your computer storage to keep your documents up to date and readily available.
Modify Your Resolutions Before the New Year
Some people set too many goals, and others set goals that are completely unattainable. These mistakes set you up for needless failure and disappointment. Let’s say you set a goal to run three miles every single day. See the problem? One missed day ruins your resolution. And your goal isn’t necessarily to run three miles every single day – it’s probably to exercise more frequently, lose weight, or improve your cardiovascular endurance.
If you start acting on your resolution in December, even through the busy holiday season, you can find a pattern that works for your schedule. After two weeks of running, you might find that running for 20 minutes four times a week is a realistic goal while running 3 miles four times a week is not. By modifying the goal before January 1, you can start the year already set up for success.
Tip: Evaluate your modifications each week during the month of December. You might have to make several tweaks before you get it just right. This is also good practice for the New year as you might have to modify your goals throughout the year.
Prioritize Your Resolutions
Your plate is full. Between school, work, friends, family, and other interests, it’s easy to let your priorities shift like a whirlwind. One day your priority is school, the next it’s time in God’s Word, and the next it’s spending time with friends. It’s easy to say we have our priorities straight, but in reality we often live as slaves to our responsibilities.
Prioritizing your resolutions, and disciplining your time to reflect those priorities, will free you to live consistently with your goals while maintaining your responsibilities. For example, if you set a goal to call your grandparents every week, and that goal is a higher priority than spending time with your college friends, maintaining the resolution to call your grandparents before you hang out with friends becomes an easier decision.
Through the holiday season, don’t forget to look forward to 2020. It’s a new year, a new decade, and it could be the start of new habits that help you improve your leadership for a lifetime.