A new year is an opportunity to improve academic performance, develop better habits, and manage your time so you can do things you couldn’t last term.
As a graduate student, I’ve returned to university wanting to do things differently. So far, I think I’ve done a good job of improving in some areas, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement (and there always will be, so don’t be too hard on yourself).
At the beginning of the school year, one of my professors asked the class to identify our learning goals for the year. Just last week, she asked us to reflect on the progress we had made towards those goals. I found this exercise so useful that I’ve decided to apply it to my entire last term—academics, personal life, extracurriculars—so I can identify areas I want to improve and things I want to do this year.
Reflecting on last term
Reflection is the process of looking back at your past experiences. It’s extremely helpful when it comes to setting out on a new path.
Reflection is what allows you to take an experience, understand it, learn from it, and improve on it the next time around.
It’s important to realize how far you’ve come and celebrate your victories.
I’ve had some great successes this year. I showed up to every class and engaged with my profs, classmates, and guest speakers. I did my best to complete all readings before class. I established good personal relationships with my profs and made sure to take advantage of their office hours to discuss my progress and assignments. I gave 100% to every assignment and class project, which has translated into good grades (so far).
Most importantly, I got involved in extracurricular activities. I wrote 3 articles for The Ubyssey, contributed to a weekly news show on CiTR 101.9 FM, attended a number of talks by visiting academics and big names in journalism, and joined a committee that volunteers and raises money for social causes in our local community. I also played on an intramural volleyball team and snuck in a few squash games.
There are also some areas where, despite my best efforts, I still need to make some changes. I think I focused a bit too much on my studies at the expense of spending time with friends and exploring Vancouver. I also didn’t stick to a daily routine. My days were quite erratic this semester, especially near the end when the work piled up. Finally, I continued my lifelong habit of procrastination by not starting some of my big projects until it was close to the deadline.
My 2018 intentions
After reflecting on what I’ve done well and what I’d still like to work on, I’ve come up with a list of my 2018 intentions:
- spend more time with friends and classmates on weekends and weeknights, getting off campus and into the city
- try waking up at the same time every morning and exercising at least twice per week
- get started on researching and outlining articles and essays well in advance of deadlines
- maintain a busy (but not overwhelming) schedule with lots of extracurricular activities outside of class
One of the most important things about university is that you develop habits that, in some cases, stay with you for the rest of your life. Whether that’s waking up early, exercising regularly, or budgeting time for school work, these habits will form the foundation of your success for years to come. By setting intentions, we are more likely to make choices that support them.
If you think this resonates for you, reflect on your last term, and set some intentions that will help you grow as you honour them.