Time for Reflection
As I was writing my to-do list for the week before I myself take a week of vacation, I was struck by how quickly this last semester passed by. There were times when I thought it would never end, but now that it’s over, I wonder where the time has gone. And I realize how much has changed over the last 12 months. Assistantships have shifted, classes have come and gone, and about one week away from a full-fledged job search for the coming spring.
I don’t often find myself sitting still this time of year with holiday preparations, a much-needed deep cleaning of my apartment (because my poor house has been neglected all semester), and lots of sleep – I also force myself not to think and rather achieve a mild brain buzz as I zone out in front of the television for the next three weeks. But I realize how important it is to sit quietly and reflect (without the t.v. on). I need to examine how far I’ve come over the last months, and how much I hope to do in the next 12.
My reflection often takes the form of ridiculous New Year resolutions that I resolutely ignore after January 6th (I don’t know why, but that’s about the time I give up). These include:
- Sleep more (terrible – it should read: be better about managing time so I can sleep like a normal person)
- Eat less (uh…less vegetables? less peanut butter? what??! My body is self-sustaining from holiday junk food until the 6th when I go through a series of withdrawals from butter-laden baked goods and piles of creamy mashed potatoes and subsequently binge on a week’s worth of $5 hot-n-ready pizza from Little Caesars).
- Talk more to old friends
- Talk less to people who emotionally drain me
- Exercise more (except when it’s too dark/cold/early/drafty/wintery to get up and do it – again, this all kicks in about 5 days into it).
- Facebook less (this is easy to say when everyone is on vacation and not posting their moment-to-moment thoughts…but once that first assignment comes due, I can’t seem to log off!).
- Volunteer more
- Stress out less
- Donate more money
- Spend less money
- Sing more
- Swear less
- Draw, paint, knit, create more
- Procrastinate with homework deadlines less
- Be more organized
- Be less messy
- Think more
- Talk less
This year, I resolve to make attainable goals. I had a supervisor show me SMART goals once and I’ve come back to them time and time again.
First, be Specific: What is it I want to accomplish exactly?
I will participate in a 5K.
Next, make it Measurable: How am I hoping to accomplish my goal?
I will go to the track at Lied Rec 3 days a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) and participate in a couch to 5K program. And I’ll find a buddy.
It needs to be Attainable: Don’t tell yourself you’ll lose 30 pounds in a month – not only will that be nearly impossible, if it does happen, it will be extremely unhealthy.
I will finish a 5K.
Make it Relevant and Rigorous: If you set the bar too low for yourself, there will be no motivation to achieve it. Challenge yourself – why else would you set a goal?
I will finish a 5K in 42 minutes or less (don’t judge, I haven’t run in over a year!).
Finally, give yourself a Timeline. If there’s no deadline to reach your goal, you can put it off forever.
I will register for a 5K in April and run it. After that 5K, I will choose another in July and register for it (new goal).
By giving yourself a SMART goal, you create an action plan to reach it. Set several goals for yourself – four to five goals keeps your mind engaged. And the goals don’t have to be outrageous – you can write goals down for things you already do. For example: if you, unlike me, are a runner, a goal for you could be to cut time from your mile or add miles to your daily run. Or if you are in a club, set a goal to run for office in the spring.
The New Year is a great time to think back on what you’ve accomplished. It’s also a great time to think forward. But don’t spend too much time thinking over break! Turn into a t.v. zombie for at least a day or, even better, get lost in a book for a few days.
Enjoy a safe and fun winter break!
Liz Steinborn firstname.lastname@example.org