The new year is quickly approaching, and many people are making their resolutions. As a grad student, you might be making a list of things to finish this coming year, or things you want to do before graduate school is over, or you might be thinking, resolutions? I always give up on them anyway before January is over, so why bother? No matter what your approach, making some resolutions as a grad student can be a good idea, if done realistically. In many ways, resolutions are simply a long-term to-do list. Here are some tips to get you started, as well as some ideas for those 2018 thoughts.

Things to Keep in Mind

First, don’t set goals that are too lofty. It’s great to aim high – graduate students are notorious overachievers, which is likely why you’re in graduate school in the first place. But if you aim too high and set unrealistic goals or resolutions that are too sweeping, it’s easy to get discouraged, which leads to the casting off of said resolutions before the first month of the year is over.

Adding resolutions about a variety of topics helps keep things fresh and interesting. If all your goals are about school, it’s easy to get overwhelmed or bored. Make some resolutions about short-term things, as well as long-term; this will provide great reinforcement when you’re able to accomplish the short-term goals on the way to the longer-term ones. Have some professional, personal, and academic goals on your list — after all, you’re not just a student. You need to nourish all parts of you, and give yourself a break at times from school or work.

Possible Resolutions

Don’t stress! Well….failing that, stress less. While some stress is healthy, too much stress can be counterproductive, and that’s not good for working on your dissertation. It can cause anxiety, depression, trouble concentrating, and wreak havoc on your immune system. It’s not possible to be stress-free, but you can find ways to manage your stress and help reduce your stress. Exercise, whether it’s running, yoga, riding a bike, or even taking a walk, is a wonderful way to reduce stress – and it gets you out of the house and away from your computer for a short time. If you can join a gym, even better – many gyms provide student discounts, and some health insurance companies even pay for part of the membership. Physical activity is one way to manage stress, but it’s also important to address the mental component. If stress, anxiety, or depression is interfering with your life, a counselor can be extremely helpful. The school counseling center is a great resource, and there are even apps for mobile therapy.

Get a job! If you’re in the market for a job, or coming up on the home stretch of your graduate program, you might be nervous about employment. Talk with your school’s job center; they are often a wealth of information, and can help with practice interviews, provide you with job listings and openings, and much more. Your advisor and/or mentor(s) can also be helpful – use the network you have to open up possibilities. At Dissertation Editor, we can help with revising and formatting your resume or CV, to help give it that extra professional polish. Applying for a job while in school feels intimidating, and it can be a lot of work – but it can also be worth it when your friends are scrambling later on in the semester, and you’ve already got something lined up.

Plan ahead. Graduate school is a journey, with a summit at the end (your dissertation or thesis). If you haven’t already, use this time to develop a working plan of how you will go about your dissertation. Map out a rough calendar of dates to have research collected, drafts completed, proposals turned in, and data collected. If you’ve started writing, or are struggling with formatting, set some goals for completion. We can help with editing, formatting, and statistics, and would be happy to get you to that next level!

Do some self-examination. Do you procrastinate? How has that affected your work? Do you eschew healthy food and exercise for fast food, too much coffee, and too many late nights? How does this impact your work (in both school, and otherwise)? Are you able to balance school with family or other obligations? Yes, graduate school is a major commitment and needs to be taken seriously, but in the end, it is part of your life, not your entire life. Success depends on a healthy balance, and what better time than a new year to examine what works, what doesn’t, and what could be improved? Looking at the things that could be improved, brainstorm some small changes you could make. Don’t shoot for a major overhaul all at once. Start small. For example, if you don’t exercise, how about starting with parking as far as you can from stores, to get some walking in, and a stroll around the block at some point each day? As time goes on, you can expand this.

Take some risks! Have you wanted to write a book, or turn your dissertation into a book? Have you been thinking about writing a journal article? What about hiking a certain trail, or starting a yoga practice, or attending a conference in your field? 2018 is the year to do it! Embrace the jitters, take that first step, and get ready. We learn the most when we leave our comfort zones, and it’s always a good idea to keep learning and evolving on our journey. While we can’t help with the yoga or hiking, we can definitely help with editing and formatting a journal article, and assist you with the process of turning your dissertation into a book. Shoot us an email at info@dissertation-editor.com, and we’d be happy to see how we can help.

What are your resolutions for 2018?