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Kick Start the new Semester right!

Kick-starting 2014 and the New Semester

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It’s the end of another grueling semester and a bitter sweet 2013. Like many of you, I sit back and look back on how far I have come since last year often asking myself “Have I achieved what I intended to in 2013?

Those of you who have planned goals for yourself probably have some sort of system to measure if you have achieved your goals or how far you’ve gone in achieving it. If you’re like me, then you probably don’t even remember what your goals are (or even if you ever set one) and you’ll probably end up measuring your year based on your most recent success or failure.

To those like me, it’s important to realize that life is not long enough and we only make it worse by worrying about the small things. When we worry about the small things, we tend not to look at the big picture – at what’s important. I’ll be honest, if you asked me how my year went about 2 weeks ago; I’d tell you it was horrible. I was the first time that my GPA had dropped, the first time I had ever gotten such a lousy grade for a subject that I usually did well in but then I started thinking about the rest of the year and it was truly amazing. I had found and lost love, made new friends and strengthened relationships with old ones and done some truly crazy and stupid things that will leave me with memories that I’ll surely cherish forever. If you’re down about how 2013 went, then I challenge you to look further then whatever is keeping you down and the events that truly make a difference.

Anyway, all that aside, I’ve decided to list some of my resolutions and goals for 2014. Hopefully they’ll be useful in helping you guys plan your own. 🙂

1. Keep my semester resolutions/New Year resolutions

We all do it. Make promises that we never keep. Sure, we’ve gone around to buying that exercise bike but the most exercise we got from it was from the assembling it. Let’s face it…now all you have is a very expensive towel rack.

We never mean to break our goals. They were just unrealistic and unachievable because they were not SMART ones. That is goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time bound.

Specific because vagueness will make identifying steps towards achieving of this goal impossible making failure inevitable. Specific goals should answer the 5 Ws (Who, What, When, Where and Why). For example, “Next semester I will form a study group and mug three time a week”.

Measurable so that we can access how well we have progressed. How else will we know when we’ve met our goal if it is not measurable? For example, “Next semester I’ll complete tutorials for each week by Saturday night the week before”.

Achievable & Realistic – Although different, I’m grouping this two together. Ensure that you develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach your goals and that your goal is one you can reach. Don’t set goals that are too achievable though! There’s a distinct difference between “I’m going to do sit ups till I’m tired” and “I’m going to do 50 push ups”. For the first, you can just do two and you will still have been considered to have completed your goal. The second forces you to hit a specific target!

Time bound so that there is some urgency, and you can’t endlessly procrastinate.

For more information on SMART goals, check out this link.

2. To be more organized

In my attempt to be more organized (and more importantly to stop forgetting to do things), I’ve decided to try a new concept that has recently been picking up a lot of attention – Bullet Journal.  It’s a simple concept. You start with a journal of some sort, and you write all of your lists inside that journal with an index guiding you to them. That’s the basic idea. The video below will show you a better example of how powerful this system actually is.

3. Make a list of things to do before going to bed and after waking up.

Alright, so the semester has started and all your assignments have begun to pour in. You’ve just had a long day and you know that you won’t be able to complete everything tonight. What do we end up doing? We complete all the important tasks and head to bed. The next morning the alarm rings and we never wake up. Why? Because all the tasks left from yesterday are not that important and sleep just seems to be more important.

The trick, complete the less important tasks first. This will give you a solid reason to wake up tomorrow morning. Of cos if you have very important submissions due the next day do those first!

4. Re-start an activity that I have stopped, but wish I didn’t.

Obviously, don’t make this a bad habit, like biting your fingernails, and don’t turn this into an excuse to start smoking again either! This point is for an activity like reading fiction, something which I’ve tended not to do for the last two years or so. I’ve started reading again and I am enjoying it immensely. Whether it be a sport or a hobby, there’s bound to be something that you’d like to start up again, and this is the perfect opportunity to do so.

5. Make some new friends in my lectures.

This is just about getting out of your comfort zone and meeting some new people. You probably know a dozen people in each of your lectures, and you recognize a fair few more around campus. Make the new semester a chance to befriend people you that you know of, but don’t hang out with. Expanding your social circle is never a bad thing, and maybe you’ll meet a couple of people you always thought looked really boring, but you turn out to share a billion interests with them. If anything else, you would be quite surprised how important it is to know people in university. They can be quite a huge resource for your school work!

6. Make myself an exercise routine and schedule.

Weather it’s just to keep fit or to lose the dreaded holiday flab, maintaining a gym habit is something I find particularly difficult. Usually, it will develop from a week where I’m sick, and then never get back into the habit properly. So, create or follow a routine that you’ve put together, or start a new one. Then schedule what days and what times you’re going to go to the gym/go on a run and, voila.

7. Make a habit of review my school-work and goals once a week.

This is still something that I think will work well with keeping a Bullet Journal as it’ll give you an overview of what you have completed and what you have to complete allowing you to better organize your revision schedule allowing you to keep on track with your studies. Hopefully this semester, none of us will have to resort to the ritualistic “learning everything for the first time” cramming during the one week study break.

8. Attend all of my classes.

This is not something I was able to do, or should I say, chose to do, last semester.  One of my lectures was so mind-numbingly dull, that by the second week, I just didn’t  turn up. However, I came to realize, however dull these lectures are, I end up not doing anything productive with my free time. In the end I just end up with a backlog of unwatched lectures. So, this tip comes with the caveat: if your lectures are truly not worth going to, then make sure you are doing something useful in that time instead. (Though I highly recommend just going for them if you’re in school)

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