New Year’s Resolutions: How College Students Can Make Them AND Keep Them

“I vow to make the Dean’s List next semester.”

“I’m going to develop more friendships on campus.”

“Before summer break arrives, I’ll lose that Freshman 15.”

College students, like many people, come up with ideas for how they’d like to improve their lives when the calendar turns to a new year. And while the act of creating resolutions is noble, studies show that 80 percent fail by February.

Ready to buck that trend? Here’s a look at how to maximize chances for success.

Be realistic

Vowing to speak fluent French before the Spring Break trip to Paris sounds awesome, but it probably won’t happen if you’re currently in the first semester of studying the language. A better goal would be to ace your French class and spend additional time learning key phrases you’re likely to use.

Similarly, stick with selecting one or two thoughtful resolutions rather than multiple ones. Trying to overhaul too many things at once usually proves overwhelming.

Make a game plan

Like a term paper that doesn’t just write itself, resolutions need to be broken down into concrete, doable steps. Executive coach and career strategist Elizabeth Koraca offers these tips:

  • Write your resolutions down and have them visible so you are reminded of them and don’t forget about them.
  • Get specific on how you are going to make it happen. For example, if you want to lose weight, write down how much weight you want to lose and exactly how you will get there. Write down your new exercise and eating plan.
  • Follow up weekly to make sure you are on track.
  • Don’t forget to schedule and create time in your calendar to make sure it happens, because what gets scheduled in the calendar gets done.

Forgive errors

You got caught up chatting with classmates and missed your Thursday gym workout, or maybe you started that English project a bit too late to do the amount of research necessary for an A. While such scenarios can be frustrating, they shouldn’t be used as excuses to totally abandon your resolution.

“When you have a setback, don’t beat yourself up. Don’t dwell on it — only look back to learn from it, and then keep moving forward. You can’t control the past, but you are in charge of this moment and how you move forward with the choices you make,” Koraca says.

Remember why

Finally, consistently reminding yourself why you chose this resolution will help with drive. When suffering through extra calculus problems to prepare for acing the final, think about the look of pride on your mom’s face when you cross the stage at graduation in honor’s regalia. Make a Pinterest board of outfits you’d love to wear when a weight loss objective gets fulfilled. Envision your growing bank account when passing up a morning latte.

And don’t forget the old saying “success breeds success.” Demonstrating to yourself that you can indeed accomplish great things will spur the confidence to reach even greater heights!