2015 Look-Ahead – My Resolutions
Hope everyone has had time to settle into this New Year 2015 after the heavy-hitting holiday season and all festivities to bring in January 1st. Now that we’re officially into the first full week of 2015, I thought I’d put pen to paper (okay, my fingers to the keyboard) to solidify some of the New Years’ Resolutions I’ve been working on in my head. Let me start this off by saying that I absolutely LOVE New Years’ Resolutions; the chance to reinvent yourself for a New Year or work on a stubborn habit is too good for me to pass up. For 2014, I actually turned it into a blog series called College Resolutions (you can check some out here and here), and used each part to share some of my lessons and experiences as a college student to help out the rest of our Illini on and off campus. This year, I want to share some of my personal goals and focus on developing tangible resolutions that I hope to spend 2015 working on.
- Staying level-headed and clear – I learned that if I’m serious about achieving these goals, I’m going to have to forgive myself for slip-ups and mistakes, because 2014 has taught me that I really cannot predict the future and need to be more flexible. I’m still not ready to talk about the end to my 2014, and actually scrapped a post idea that I had laid out for a “2014 Reflection”. A previous version of myself did not make it out of last year, and I’m glad I left a significant portion of the old me stranded thousands of miles away, hoping that she takes her pessimism and despair and never returns. When the going gets tough, the tough take some moments to think about reality and enact a plan to help them manage time efficiently. I don’t want to waste time stressing out, or even tormenting myself with future work when I’m trying to relax. One quote I found on the internet that has resounded with me is “Never regret anything, because at one point, it was exactly what you wanted” (anonymous). I need to stop beating myself up for wasting time on social media or watching TV, because the cycle of being tired + wasting time + hating myself for it = stress. I CHOOSE to remain level-headed and rational about the amount of time I want to work, my scheduling habits, and my choice of relaxation because I want to stay in control mentally and focus on being a happier student this year.
- Cutting out bad habits (Netflix/Buzzfeed/Pinterest) – Yes you read that correctly – I have stopped watching Netflix, perusing Buzzfeed incessantly, and even deleted the Pinterest app off of my phone. In order to keep my levels of sanity and clarity even when school starts in a couple of weeks, I wanted to head straight to the source to eliminate my main distractions. I’m pretty sure the word “Netflix” pops up in just about every post I’ve written on here! It started when I first got home and slipped back into a Gossip Girl coma to help me forget about the world and reacquaint myself with my pillows and blankies. My laptop fell asleep and I caught a reflection of myself in the screen – small, narrow eyes glued to a screen watching a show that wrapped up about five years ago with subtitles to not miss any of the insults belonging to a girl who was propped up on three pillows to keep herself from falling asleep. I’ll spare you the rest of my Netflix-binge horrors, but I realized that it was time to bid adieu to one of my most faithful frenemies. In my opinion, Buzzfeed has gotten quite mundane, and I didn’t want to keep opening up the webpage each morning with so much hope, only to be disappointed by sad GIFs and awful videos. Along with Buzzfeed, I wanted to limit/quit my Pinterest page because it’s taken over my life. I need to stop spending so much time organizing a virtual desk and closet and come back to reality. When I saw that I used my phone less after deleting the Pinterest app, I knew I was making a step in the right direction. I don’t think I’ll quit Instagram though, because I’m having way too much fun uploading and editing the pictures from my new iPhone 6. It’s all about balancing the give-and-take for me this year.
- Limiting outside food/coffee intake – I knew I had to make a change the moment I walked into Basil Thai and the owners knew my order before I opened my mouth. I’ve been spending way too much money on outside food and coffee/tea since I moved into an apartment sophomore year. One of my mini-goals during the Spring 2014 semester (my sophomore spring) was to get my Starbucks gold card, and I successfully reached it when my card came in the mail in November. I think it’s time to head back to the basics: brew my own coffee in the mornings before class and make my own tea throughout the day. Also, I am tired of putting junky, sodium-loaded processed foods into my body, and want to take a break from spending money around campus to focus on what I’m really using for fuel. I wouldn’t hesitate to stop at Einstein Bros and grab a bagel and a coffee before heading to my RSO Cube hours, or even pick up a latte from Espresso Royale almost every time I visited the library! Reviewing my debit card statements helped me wake up to see just how much money I spent on food! This resolution is designed to help me improve my quality of living in two ways – with a healthy diet and an introduction to budgeting. The real world will be here before I know it! Also, I have an excellent coffee maker and could easily just buy my own Starbucks coffee and Tazo tea, so I need to stop being lazy and start being practical! I really just need to stop procrastinating when it comes to doing dishes (maybe I’ll just buy disposable coffee cups with lids!)
- Concentration – I’m truly amazed at how quickly time flies when I’m engaged in an interesting activity. I’ll be busy memorizing protein structures or rearranging my calendar, just to look up and see that hours have passed without me realizing it. The power of our concentration, when fully engaged, is unbelievable. In 2015, I want to take advantage of my concentration and channel it towards being PRODUCTIVE. So, I’m working to cut out negative thoughts (#1), destroy my time-wasters before they ruin my mood and day (#2), and really try to do my work without whining about it (part of #4). Studying is studying, whether it’s up at 2 AM the day before an exam or 2 PM after a lecture gets out. The only difference is that the student who’s finishing her review work at 2 PM after her morning lecture is excited about her field of study and prioritizes her work and time management skills and the student at 2 AM who is exhausted, losing her concentration, and probably wasting time watching YouTube videos is me. I know I want to be a doctor, and I know it’s a long road. So why should I view exams and the MCAT like it’s the end goal when I know that it’s hardly the first step? I will make it a habit to start studying early and focus myself so I don’t end up distracted by the internet or my friends and continue to stay positive. I also have these weird, annoying mental blocks, such as “I don’t want to do work on a Friday” or “I finished one assignment so let me reward myself by watching a full movie on Netflix.” I hope to end these pre-existing notions altogether and really use this semester to be, in all senses of the word, PRODUCTIVE. I’m taking two MCB courses this semester along with a Neuroscience class, figuring out the MCAT, and hoping to establish my research project. Let’s see just how powerful my concentration really is.
I have a lot of other material floating around in my head that I’m looking to change or improve on for 2015, including:
- Daily multivitamin usage
- One cup of coffee a day (probably not going to last, but at least I’ll work to make my own)
- Stop spending hours on my phone in bed when I should be sleeping
- Really using a planner + Google calendar system to effectively balance down time with solid blocks of work
- Establishing a morning routine (showering in the mornings before class + reading some news websites) and an evening routine (packing my backpack at night before school)
Putting effort into my appearance so I don’t feel sloppy (also probably not going to last, but I do miss wearing my contacts some days)
It sounds like I have a lot of work to do in 2015, but I can’t wait to get started, focus on myself, and establish good habits. We have just about 2 more weeks of winter break left, so make it count Illini!
Happy New Year!