A Breath of Fresh Air: A New Year and a New Semester

By Western University Modified on January 24, 2023
Tags : Academics | Community | Student POV

How I plan my time in order to achieve my goals for the new year and new semester.

A Breath of Fresh Air: A New Year and a New Semester

Written by Western University Biology student, Devanshi Parmar.

The beginning of a new year and new semester can help open up the space for a fresh start with healthy changes. This is not to say changes cannot be made in the middle of the year or semester, but something about setting new year's resolutions and goals gives a little extra motivation to actually make these changes happen.

Goals are personalized to each individual, but I find following a few general steps can help everyone prepare to achieve their goals:

  1. 1. Reflect on what went well and not so well
  2. 2. Prioritize improvements
  3. 3. Set up a realistic plan for how these goals will be met


I find myself feeling like a hamster running on a wheel all throughout December: from final assignments and projects to final exams straight into holiday parties and events. The first few days of January, I love to spend time alone to sit with my emotions and reflect on the past year.

I like to write out the happy memories of the year onto one page. On another, I write out things that went poorly and goals I did not reach. I also take the time to figure out why it went poorly, and my limitations on achieving my previous goals.

As a student, I like to organize my reflections into two categories: academic and non-academic. However, I also like to make a combined grand list of these points. I am not much of a consistent journaler, but I do love to write my reflections of the past year on the pages just before my resolutions and goals. This allows me to read back on why I made them in the first place.

Prioritizing improvements

A major issue I've had in the past few years was wanting to make many drastic changes with little planning on how and when. I've found it's best to proritize a few new changes at first and allow yourself the time and space to make them habits before adding new habits to your routine. This also allows you to work your way up to achieving larger goals and complete the grand list of improvements by the end of the new year (not all goals have to be instant changes).

Realistic goal-setting

Building on the previous step, once you've prioritized which improvements you want to make first. Aim to address the reasons and the limitations of why you didn't reach your goals in the previous year. Creating S.M.A.R.T. goals (PDF) can be helpful to do this! Be sure to think about how all your goals and timelines will also overlap and interact with one another!

In order to achieve both my academic and non-academic goals, I like to create a rough daily/weekly routine, with time set aside for the habits I am trying to form. For example, I plan out specific days of the week I will go to the gym that work with my course schedule. I think about factors such as how many hours I am in class versus how many hours I have open to study in the day, and the intensity of my intended workout (weights/cardio vs. mobility/yoga, for example).

Speaking of organizing, remember to set aside time for yourself to relax and do things you enjoy! I love leaving my evening routine more flexible because it allows me to catch up with my roommates and hang out. Sometimes you may fall astray from your routine and goals, but having them written out and visible to constantly refer to can help keep you on track!

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