Happy New Year! It’s tradition for many people to make resolutions at the start of the new year, but so many times they fall by the wayside by the time January ends. As a grad student, why not use this opportunity to make some resolutions that are practical and can help you with your journey toward graduation? The trick is to make attainable, smaller goals first – small steps get you to the end goal. Setting goals or resolutions that are unrealistic sets you up for disappointment or failure, and only ends in frustration and stress. Smaller goals allow you to be flexible, and if you have the mindset that the resolutions are fluid and constantly changing, you can move the goalposts as you make progress.

If you have some resolutions in mind already, great! If not, or if you’re wondering about some extra resolutions that might be helpful during graduate school, read on!

Stop stressing. Stress can be harmful to your health, interfere with your learning, and generally make you feel not-so-great, which can then often translate into decreased productivity and poor academic performance. It can also lead to procrastination with schoolwork and dissertation work, which then leads to more stress, creating a vicious cycle. Get the stress under control, learn ways to manage stress, and discover tools with which to harness that stressful energy and use it to your advantage. Check out some of our blog posts here and here about ways to reduce stress to get you started. Do some searching within your University to see what services they offer: their counseling center might offer stress management seminars or anxiety groups, in addition to individual and group counseling; many student centers offer yoga or meditation classes; and the fitness center might offer fitness classes that can help get you moving, which is a great way to relieve stress. Find what works for you.

Be budget-conscious. Grad students are notoriously strapped for cash – and for good reason! Balancing school and work is tough, and your hours get cut to allow for classes and schoolwork. Learning how to manage your money is a skill that will serve you for the rest of your life. Make a budget, and stick to it. It might mean fewer nights out with friends, or cutting back on takeout, but once you see your savings start to grow, it’ll be worth it. Throw your change into a spare jar and see how fast it takes to get filled – you’ll likely never even notice the missing change, but small things add up, and by the end of the year, you’ll have a nice chunk of money waiting for you. It might not be fun to mind your money, but it’s a relief to have some savings if something happens and you need to pay some extra bills.

Start small. It’s tempting to set big goals: finish a chapter each month, read X number of research articles each week, or write X number of pages a day. Sometimes big goals can intimidate instead of inspire. Start small and remember to have fun. Why not buy a Word-of-the-Day calendar and learn a new word each day? What about reading a book in your area of study that’s aimed at the general layperson? Try committing to writing 200 words a day of your dissertation. Just 200, each day. They don’t have to be perfect, but they just have to be on the page. Low pressure. My hunch is that you’ll eventually start moving that word goal further and further out – but for now, just start with 200. These small starts can lead you to bigger things without even realizing it, and without all the pressure to do more.

Get help. If you’re really struggling with writing, research, statistics, or classwork, there’s nothing worse than struggling alone. The good news is, you don’t have to be alone with it! If you’re finding the material of a class difficult, get a tutor. Many universities have academic centers with teams of tutors, each specializing in a certain area, so you can get a tutor best suited to your class needs. If you have a disability, talk with the disability center at your school to ensure that you’re getting the appropriate accommodations and that they’re working for your needs. If you’re struggling with the statistics or mechanics of your dissertation, why not check out Dissertation Editor? Our editing and statistics teams are comprised of students who have assisted hundreds of students just like you. While we cannot actually write your paper or do the work for you, we can help you edit and revise your dissertation or thesis, as well as provide critical feedback and consultations. Our stats team can assist you in choosing the correct tests and methodologies, and much more. Contact us today to learn how we can help you get to where you need to be!