By: Madelynn Lockwood, Features editor
Starting a new academic semester brings on all the stress that we forgot about over summer, but that doesn’t mean we are inevitably going to fall back into our old ways unless we choose to. Building good habits from the start is the key to changing certain behaviors before you get too comfortable with retreating to the old ones. Regardless of what habit you want to change, add or finally break, you are making a conscious choice to do so: throughout the process of building habits, you have to choose again and again to continue to work toward your goal. It is not something that simply happens, but something that you must work for.
I feel that people give up on goals for one of two reasons: one, they forgot why they started, or two, they set a goal that was too far out of reach and eventually got discouraged. If your goal is to exercise daily, but you are starting at a point where you don’t exercise at all, that’s a much bigger jump than if you set a goal to exercise twice or three times a week. Am I saying that you should never aim to workout daily? No! I am saying that building habits means building them, not making a drastic change overnight.
Half the battle of building habits — especially ones that force us to take the harder route — comes down to motivation and perseverance. That’s where choice comes in. Choosing to hold on to those habits for a reason, that’s the “why.” When you don’t initially see the results you are desiring, the “why” plays a huge part and will probably play a role in whether or not this new habit dies.
With that being said, I am going to impart my endless wisdom on building good habits and sticking to them:
Look at your normal schedule. Appreciate where you do well and what needs some work. Normally, if you are looking to build a habit, you already know what you’re going to work on.
Find the “why” behind the habit. Is this habit going to lower your stress levels? Improve your self-confidence? Help your organization? Bring up your grades? Make sure that it is something that you care about and that it’s something that you can sustain if you are successful.
Keep yourself accountable. This looks different for everyone, but it shouldn’t be a punishment for yourself. Punishing yourself is a recipe for not following through on the habit. Try out tracking your habits on a daily basis to see the progress you make.
Get started! Don’t wait for Monday or for the next time you feel like it. Start now, and I mean right now (I mean, finish my article, but after you do that)! There is no time like the present, and starting at the beginning of the semester is so much easier than later.