Tackle new year with self-improvement

Written by Quinn Arbolante and Chiara Jurczak

Tell others about your goals

So you have your list of goals. You’re motivated, you have a plan to reach your goals, but you might not want to tell anyone about what you’re doing. Why? It’s actually incredibly helpful to tell friends and family about your intentions; explicitly mentioning them to peers increases the chances of succeeding tenfold. When you tell someone about your goals, they begin to expect improvement, which can pressure you to put more effort into succeeding.

Be honest

It’s not easy to say what’s really on your mind, but studies show that people who are not constantly hiding secrets from their peers tend to lead a healthier and more relaxed lifestyle. Don’t be afraid to let others know what you want and what you need; they’re not mind readers, and you might be surprised at how willing they are to help once they know the issue. Try it out—be one hundred percent truthful for at least one whole week and see how much freer you feel once you get everything o your chest.

Get rid of your notifications first thing in the morning

We all know how hard it is to ignore the incessant calls of Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter, especially when there could be so much new content you missed after the recommended eight hours of sleep you surely got last night. However, this tip comes from some very successful people. Getting your unopened emails as close as possible to the target number of zero first thing in the morning helps you feel on top of things and will increase your productivity level overall. When you’re done, you can go back to scrolling through your Instagram feed.

Keep a daily journal

You might feel like skipping over this tip. After all, you’ve tried keeping a journal before, and it never lasted more than a few days. However, the fact remains that having a space to let all your feelings out, to rant and not get a judgy look back, is extremely helpful. And you can always make it more original, change the whole meaning of journal. If you’re more of a vocal person, hit the record button and unleash your emotions. No matter how you do it, make sure that you have a way to let out all the bad feelings so that you have more room for the good ones.

Write down resolutions

When looking at how to improve, putting your goals on paper prevents forgetting them and makes you more committed to reaching them. Many people forget their goals early in the year, only to realize your memory lapse when it’s too late. Your busy schedule can make it seem impossible to work on self-improvement, but writing what you want to accomplish will certainly make you feel motivated to succeed—or at least guilt-trip you into doing it.

Make time for yourself

In order to self-improve, you first need to self-reflect. Take a small portion of your time every day to look at what you did, and see what you can improve on or do better. Once you know your strengths and weaknesses, you can start working on certain aspects of your life to improve and enhance who you are. Your goals may be unusual, but they will be unique to you and adjusted for your individual needs.

Plan ahead

Attaining an aspiration requires constant effort and persistence. Unfortunately, we all tend to procrastinate on projects, especially big ones like losing weight or eating healthier, which only makes it harder to work on them. Including a time plan into your goals keeps you on track, and creates time to work on them. For example, turning a goal like “Learn how to play piano” into “Practice piano 15 minutes every day” creates a more active mindset. Time becomes a tool to create ambition rather than guilt, and is helpful for reaching your achievements.

Create new habits

You might think that habits are unchangeable, unalterable. Well, you would be wrong. See, your brain has these things called neural pathways that transmit messages to your body. When you do the same action over and over again, a neural pathway is formed. Luckily for you, the bad neural pathways can be cancelled out by the new and improved neural pathways. The first thing to do is acknowledge the habit you wish to change, and observe it more carefully. Once you know how it works, when it is triggered, you can create a game plan. Then, you need to shift your focus. Don’t think about how good another episode sounds, and interrupt all thoughts that can send you running back to that bad habit. Think about all the negatives instead, about how much damage you’re doing to yourself. Picture yourself a month from now. Will the choice you’re about to make improve your health and happiness? If the answer is no, take a step back and distract yourself. And voila, you’re on your way to forming a new, more beneficial neural pathway.

Think positive

It is a known fact that people who are more grateful for what they have live more fulfilling lives. Often, we focus on all the awful things happening and forget to recognize the amazing things that are also happening. So whatever you do, take some time in your day, week or month to make a list, either physical or mental, about all the good things in your life. If that proves too challenging, start by listing all the negatives you don’t have. Keeping track of what makes you happy will help you appreciate what you have more, and you will feel less weighed down by everything going on in the world around you.

Do homework right after school

Your first instinct when you get home after a long, exhausting day of school is to probably  jump on your bed and go straight to Netflix. Just 15 minutes, you tell yourself. I deserve it. And you do. But think about this way: when would you get the opportunity to watch that episode of Grey’s Anatomy? Now, when you still have a mountain of work waiting for you, or in three hours, when you’ll be mostly (or hopefully all) done with homework and can finally relax by watching surgeons cut people open in peace? Studies show that students’ brains are most productive right after school, since they haven’t yet received the message that work, or school, is over. So take advantage of that as often as you can, and get all your work done pronto. If you can dream it, you can do it.

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