New year, new me. Well, at least that’s what they say. As a society, we idealize who we want to be and what we want to do differently in the new year, but when the big day goes by, most of us don’t stick to what we planned. One of the most popular goals people set is to live healthier, but I’m sure you can find most of those people a week later, sitting in front of their TVs, eyes on their tall mountain of ice cream and a bucket of popcorn. Guess what, we’ve all been there.
If so many people are determined to change their life, why do most plans fall through? Well, maybe it’s because a year is just too long to stick with. With this thought in mind, here are twelve bite-sized goals, some specifically recommended by the American Medical Association, for students to challenge themselves with this new year. And remember, it’s never too late to set a new goal.
1. Meet New People: With the overload of homework students are assigned these days, many will choose to stay home when given the chance. For this month-long challenge, try something new once a day to meet new people. Whether this means high fiving someone in the hall or joining a whole new sport, something small every day will make a difference. Meeting new people is beneficial to your mental well-being and is a great way to de-stress, so get on it!
2. Be Confident: Confidence makes people listen. When you are confident you are not only more likely to be listened to, it also makes it easier to make connections and build self-esteem. A good dose of self-confidence will help you lead a much happier life. You can start by saying a motivational quote every day to inspire yourself or jump at opportunities to be in the spotlight. So when the teacher asks who is willing to read the agenda for the day once again, raise your hand high and proudly.
3. Be Happy With Your Life: Even those who do all of their assignments on time, have their stress under control, and have healthy relationships with their friends and family can still be unhappy. Happiness is a mindset, so set goals for yourself like smiling more often or giving yourself a thumbs up in the mirror.
4. Save That Money: Saving money should be a lifetime goal, but you can start putting away anything extra right now by keeping just ten percent of the money you earn from babysitting, your birthday, or job. Keep your money in places like a jar, special box, or even the bank, where it is not only safe but in a place where you won’t be tempted to use it. For some, this might mean not bringing any extra money to school where there are girl scout cookies and t-shirts to buy. After saving for just a little bit you’ll find you have much more than you first thought.
5. Organized Smorganized: I won’t be the only one to say that we all tend to feel like there is just not enough time between, school, homework, and recreational activities. None the less, no matter just how busy your schedule is, we can all use to be a little more organized. This is where those old school planners or even your phone’s calendar become critical to having a successful school career. For this month write down every home assignment that day, including any activities in that special journal or in your phone. Those ten extra minutes you spend before you begin homework will save you the time you spend stressing over the things you forgot.
*Tip: You can also try organizing your notebooks and folders for class into the order you have them that day.
6. You Can Practically Taste The Joy: Cooking is an essential skill. Knowing how to cook not only allows you to save money and eat the food you love, but it can bring you closer to your family’s culture and it’s a fun thing to do with friends! For this month’s challenge, try cooking a meal with your family once a week or plan a fun cooking get together with friends. Another fun way to get into this month’s challenge is to create a meal plan for the week. This involves writing out your breakfast, lunch, or dinner plans for each day on a big board or piece of paper where you can see it. And if you haven’t begun making your lunch already, there is no time like the present.
7. Reconnect: Some people might not spend hours in front of the TV or scouring YouTube, but online apps including social media have become more than just a time suck because they’re not too great for your mental health either. Studies have shown that social media can lead to lowered self-esteem in teens and a constant need to please. This month, set a ten-minute time frame for social media before beginning any work after school, then take your phone out of the room to remove any temptations. It’s fine to stay in touch with friends and family, but if you are spending more than an hour every day on social media, it’s time to make a change.
8. Face Your Fears: The title says it all. If it scares you, it might just mean you should try it. You have the ability to control every emotion you feel, fear included, so embrace fear and decide, “I’m scared of this so I’m going to give it all I’ve got.” For this challenge try doing something scares you every day. For you, this might mean finally raising your hand to answer a question in class, sharing how you really feel about something, or volunteering to go first.
9. Read, Read, Read, Read: This is your year to start reading every day. Set a goal (twenty minutes is a great place to start) and increase from there. Try tracking your reading on a free website like Goodreads, so you can see what books are next on your list and recommendations based on what you have read in the past. It might seem hard at first, but fitting it in before you go to bed, on the bus ride home, or during advisory work great. In the end, you will become a faster reader, beneficial for test taking, and will improve your own writing along the way.
10. Feeling the Concentration Constipation? If you have trouble focusing in class while doing homework sometimes all you need is a little brain stretch before you can hop back into the working mindset. Today we can use anything from apps like Breathe to ancient meditation techniques (don’t laugh, it’s true) to boost your concentration. If you go through with this, you will be able to control your mood, learn faster and have an easier time solving problems. Challenge yourself by taking a minimum of one brain break a day doing whatever works for you. Two great techniques are taking five slow breaths or physically stretching out your arms and legs in your seat.
11. Don’t Be A Junkie: Eating lots of highly processed foods, which tend to be packed with added sugar, salt, fat and chemicals, is commonly associated with health problems ranging from type two diabetes to cancer. Test yourself by limiting your processed food intake or cutting it out entirely, like no soda for a month. Choose one item like chocolate, cookies, or chips to take away for a month. Towards the end, you may even find that you’ll crave those foods less and less.
12. Drink that H20: With all of those plastic water bottles in our gym foyer, this might be the easiest goal to set. According to U.S Health, humans should drink about half a fluid ounce for every pound they weigh. In other words, if you were to weigh 150 pounds, you need to drink at least 75 fluid ounces every day. For this one month goal it’s pretty simple, drink the right amount of fluid ounces for your weight every day. Your body will thank you.
While these goals were picked out with the intention to be something most would want to try, we are all different so pick the ones that work best for you. Why waste another minute keeping those old habits when you can change yourself for the better; finish up here and get started making these achievable goals come to life!