Let’s be honest, whether you admit it to yourself or not, every year around this time you start to think about what you’re going to do differently next year. Then, once January rolls around you stick to these plans for about a month before you drift slowly back into your own ways. I’m not holding it against you, I’m as bad as the next person for it, but I’m a firm believer in still trying anyway. If just one new years resolution sticks through the new year, then the personal pride (and bragging rights) are with you forever.
So, if you need a bit of guidance as to how you can improve your life at university over the next year (or your life in the real world if you’re old like me and graduating in the summer), then hopefully this blog will help at least a little.
The most obvious place to make improvements in your university life is organisation, everyone says the same thing: “this year I won’t leave my deadlines to the last minute”, “I’ll start assignments as soon as they’re handed out and have them done well in advance”, “I’ll make time to cover lecture content during the week and finish off notes”. If you are trying to tell me you haven’t said one of these things at least once in your university life then I’m sorry I don’t believe you.
The thing is, even if you say these things and don’t completely succeed, making an attempt is better than nothing. Maybe you don’t start the assignment as soon as it’s given out, but if you start it a week earlier than you would have last year then that’s still an extra week of work on that assignment! If you don’t manage to complete your set of lecture notes for a module, but you do manage to scrape together the majority of them, then future-you will be forever grateful for the headstart come April.
When it comes to organisation and university work, it’s important to remember that no ones perfect. You shouldn’t underestimate the massive impact that even small improvements can have on your year, so, make an outlandish claim on January 1st if you must, and then stick to what’s achievable once the fresh-start-glow has worn off.
Next on my list of ‘most obvious things to say to a uni student at new years’ is, of course, budgetting. With the new year comes new fiscal responsibility, and, of course, another chunk of student loan. The urge to blow it is- as always- almost irresistible, especially with the ‘treat yourself’ attitude that I always find comes with January sales, but (for fear of being the Boring One), the sensible thing to do is to make sure you know exactly how much money you have to blow first. Take a moment to make a note of all the annoying things that eat your money like rent and bills and.. yknow.. food, take that amount away from the free money that magically appears in your account at the start of term (that definitely isn’t debt that’s going to haunt you for the rest of your life) and then you’re down to the all important ‘pretend you’re a baller and buy the next round’ figure. Now you can go nuts.
I’ve had it drilled into me from a young age that I should take every opportunity thrown my way, and once you get to uni these ‘opportunities’ become a barrage of people asking you to try new things. From the minor leagues of new experiences like circling (a big yes from me), to the more adventurous activities like Warwick in Africa, university offers a massive range of things to get involved with. While it’s impossible to do everything, it’s definitely important to find something to throw yourself into, and the start of a new year can be a great time to do this. Most clubs and societies do re-freshers at the beginning of term 2 for just this purpose, and even if not, chances are they’ll be happy to welcome new members with open arms.
If there’s anything you considered trying but never got around to, now is the time to add it to your list of resolutions and get involved.
Finally, a new year is the perfect time to kick yourself back into gear and stop eating takeaway three times a week (as much as the 2-4-1 Dominoes is tempting). If you’re feeling a bit down after term 1, now is a great opportunity to take a step back and try and make some changes- if you wanted to go to the gym more but never got round to it, try and find time in your schedule to squeeze it in; if you find yourself eating crap, make a meal rota and try some new meals to add a bit of variety; maybe even go on a few less nights out to give your liver a break (okay this one may seem slightly less unlikely, at least for me).
Another important thing to consider is your mental health. Try and make some time for yourself in the new year- it’s important not to let your work stresses take over your life (as much as they might try), and with the new year being a time for reflection, it’s a good opportunity to be introspective and make sure you’re handling deadlines and commitments in a healthy way (surprisingly an all nighter before every deadline is not good for your mental health, who knew?).