Get real about your goals

Have you ever started a diet or exercise program, but didn’t stick with it? Or set out after your goals with the best intentions, but failed to keep the momentum going?

We all know how to be productive, get our work done, exercise and eat healthy, yet we’re not any closer to achieving our goals than we were nine months ago.

Our tendency to form grand plans is no help — it leaves us feeling intimidated by our own expectations. Simply, ‘we bite off more than we can chew’ and get overwhelmed too quickly.

Remember that your goals are the larger items that you wish to someday accomplish. Most importantly, they should be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.

Therefore, in order to be successful in establishing good habits this school year, we must find a balance between our need to dream big and our day-to-day activities.

Whether you’re hoping to improve your study, exercise or eating habits, these tips and tricks will help you make them stick this school year.

Start simple
Setting big goals is exciting, but starting with smaller, potentially boring, goals are more likely to lead you to success. A small, but still SMART goal would be to run for 10 minutes each day by the lake, replace one unhealthy snack with raw veggies or study for 30 minutes before class at Stauffer. Once the action becomes easy, you can build on that goal.

Make it convenient
Don’t try to completely revamp your life in a single day. The more difficult and time-consuming it is to take action, the less likely you will do it. Make a schedule and allocate time for your activity, by designating an appropriate amount of work to be completed each day. Remember progress is gradual, not a dramatic change. Learning Strategies also has helpful workshops, such as Balance Schoolwork and Life: Draft Your Weekly Schedule.

Stay consistent
The frequency isn’t as important as actually performing the habit; however, once you start, it’s important to keep with it so the habit will become a routine. If you want to start exercising, for example, try going at the same time at the same place for a month. Alternatively, you could commit yourself to a 30-day challenge. The ARC’s free fitness classes are a great starting point to check out classes such as pilates, spin and Zumba.

Do it early
You know best whether you’re a morning person or a night owl; however, it’s important to start your day off right, so do it early. Study in the morning (or before class), for example, when your motivation and willpower levels are higher. To avoid the lure of Mac-Corry burgers, try preparing a healthy dinner ahead of time.

Make it fun
If you don’t enjoy doing something, you aren’t likely to stay with it in the long run. So find ways that will make your lifestyle change as enjoyable as possible. The easiest way is to get a buddy — someone who will not only join you, but also keep you motivated. Start a study group, try a group workout class at the ARC or join the Healthy Cooking Club.

Use your resources
There are various resources made available to help keep you on pace with your goals this year. Don’t feel shy — a little help and outside motivation goes a long way. These are only a few of the services offered at Queen’s that you should check out. For academics, there’s Queen’s Learning Commons, located in Stauffer, as well as ASUS Peer Tutoring and Arts and Science Q Success. For health and wellness, the AMS Food Centre, the ARC and HCDS are all great, on-campus resources.

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