8 Common New Year's Resolutions You Didn't Realize Would Benefit Your Grades
In the winter months, a little introspection is natural. As one year ends and another begins, many make resolutions and declare life goals to work toward. We often focus on whether we will be able to keep our resolutions — some might make a game plan, others might prepare to conquer obstacles they predict will stand in the way of their goals.
But very few ever consider the side effects of success.
When you make a New Year’s resolution to change your life in some way, it makes sense that the change would have ripple affects you may not have realized. While some of the most common New Year’s resolutions may not focus on academics, the offshoots may very well include improved academic performance, better grades and greater success at school.
If you could use some motivation to make or achieve a New Year’s resolution in 2017, keep reading! These common choices could give you twice the payoff.
1. Stay fit and healthy
This one tends to top the charts for the most popular New Year’s resolution year after year — most likely due to the fact that health seems to impact every area of our lives. Think about the levels of happiness and motivation you’ve experienced on a day when you had to clock into work feeling miserable as opposed to a day when you felt strong and rested. The difference healthy living can make is clear.
So how does this impact your academic life? The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has performed many studies on nutrition, fitness, overall health and improved academic performance. Healthy students are better learners, according to the CDC. They are also superior on all levels of academic achievement: academic performance, education behavior, cognitive skills and attitudes.
If this is your resolution, keep an eye on your test scores and papers. You might see them take a turn for the better.
2. Live in the present moment
This popular resolution is a bit more abstract: enjoy life to the fullest and practice mindfulness. The focus of this one is in trying to shape your mentality and attitude toward life. This is ideal for those who feel overworked, stretched thin and somehow detached from what they want out of life.
If this is your resolution, you might picture devoting some time to daily meditation or breaking out of your shell to experience things you’ve never tried before. And if you truly put some work into your perspective and mental habits, you will probably see some perks in your academic life, too. One study found that an experimental group who practiced mindfulness exercises achieved better academic performance than the control group, along with a significant decrease in anxiety.
3. Spend less, save more
If you feel like you are living paycheck to paycheck, or if you wish you were putting more savings toward something special, you’re not alone. This common resolution reveals that plenty of people would love to get a better grip on their finances.
When you are in school, this goal can be particularly challenging, but it can help your studies in a roundabout way. For example, cutting back on unnecessary expenses might be a little easier if you spend your spare time studying instead of going out. Think of it this way: since you’re already paying tuition, you might as well get the most out of it to ensure your investment is worthwhile.
4. Get organized
Each New Year, professionals at all stages of their careers resolve to get more organized. Whether this means clearing the junk out of your closets or getting a planner to keep tabs on due dates, organizing your world will help you stay on top of your to-do list with less stress.
Physical organization makes it easier to concentrate, because having lots of visual stimuli can be distracting. A clean work environment is especially important if you complete schoolwork at home or are enrolled in online courses.
An organized schedule is also huge for your academic performance, because balancing your life with a school schedule can get complicated. For even the most dedicated student, the more you have going on, the easier it is to miss important deadlines. And late work — not to mention missed exams or skipped classes — can take a toll on your GPA.
5. Read more
Maybe you are working your way through a book list, or maybe you’re a little ashamed of how many months (or years) have gone by since you lost yourself in a great read. Either way, resolving to read more is definitely a popular goal for New Year’s. It also has a great impact on your learning ability in school.
Independent reading is the kind you choose to do on your own time. It is not assigned or assessed, but it has been shown to have a positive effect on learning and school achievement. Free reading completed outside of school work has consistently correlated to achievement in vocabulary, reading comprehension, verbal fluency and general information.
If you’ve been meaning to read the Harry Potter series or a classic like Moby Dick, resolve to make it happen in 2017.
6. Get better sleep
You’ve probably been told a hundred times that rest is more important than extra study hours on the night before a big exam. But when life gets hectic, sleep seems to be one of the first things people cut back on. If you haven’t been getting enough sleep, you might be interested in setting a goal just for the sake of your health. An added bonus: it will probably help your grades.
A lack of sleep due to behavior patterns can have a negative effect on a student’s academic performance. If that’s you right now, a few extra hours a night could eventually lead to a GPA boost.
7. Spend less time on social media
The average person has five social media accounts and spends roughly an hour and 40 minutes perusing those platforms each day. If you feel like your brain has been hardwired to tune into Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat or Pinterest multiple times daily, you might have noticed some adverse effects on your attention span.
This can impact your grades in a big way. Say you’re writing a paper for class. You have your phone on the table next to you as it buzzes intermittently with texts and notifications. You may also have a tab open for Twitter or Facebook, constantly refreshing for new information. This study environment is more than common for the average student today, but it can be detrimental.
It’s been reported that using social media and texting while doing schoolwork negatively impacts overall GPA. Doing so taxes the student’s limited capacity for cognitive processing. If students instead divert that energy and focus on understanding their study material, their productivity regarding schoolwork could improve.
Resolving to set limits on your social media engagement — especially while in class or studying — could be great news for your grades.
8. Learn something new
Stretching your creativity by taking on a new hobby is an exciting goal for the New Year. Guitar lessons, sculpting, capoeira, a new language — the options are endless. And opening your mind and stretching your experiences in a different way has been shown to positively impact performance-based tasks (like schoolwork).
Creative activities allow you to experience mastery and control. The act of discovering something new can uniquely influence performance-related outcomes. If you’ve been looking for an excuse to try something you’ve always wanted to try, here it is!
Get the most out of your resolution this year
As you can see, your academic performance is connected to many variables in your life. Your health, your mental state, your sleep patterns and even your finances and extra-curricular reading can influence how well you learn.
Making one of these common New Year’s resolutions could be good news for your grades, but there are many external factors you can adjust to make your student life a little easier. Your physical environment is one of them. Learn how to maximize your study time in our article: 12 Tips to Create the Perfect Study Environment for You.