Welcome back! I hope you all had an opportunity to recharge over winter break and that you’re ready for a new semester.
As we begin a new year, goals and resolutions have been on my mind recently. As graduate students, I’m sure many of you have academic goals you are working toward—whether it’s writing your dissertation, putting together a proposal or completing challenging coursework. Maybe you have some additional goals this year outside of your academic work focusing on your health and wellness, relationships or future careers.
Working toward a goal helps us grow, gain new experiences and develop better habits, but sometimes the goals we set for ourselves can be intimidating. Lofty goals are exciting and inspirational, but sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin. I’d like to share some strategies I’ve learned from personal experience to help you achieve your goals this year.
Break down your goal
Breaking down your goals down into smaller action steps will make them more manageable to tackle. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming to be asked to complete a paper, thesis or dissertation proposal by a certain date, but writing one paragraph or reading one related article each day until that date doesn’t feel as challenging. Once you have your action plan, give yourself a trial period to test it out and ensure your timeline works with your schedule and other commitments.
Take care of yourself
We sometimes put extra undue pressure on ourselves to perform consistently at a high level, especially when working towards a goal or deadline. It’s important to keep our expectations in check and make sure we’re taking care of ourselves. We work best when we are getting enough sleep, eating and exercising regularly and taking mental breaks from our coursework.
If you have a family or partner, it can be even more challenging to find time to take care of yourself while completing a graduate program, even though we know we are better caretakers to others when we in a calm and peaceful state. Give yourself permission to take even just a little time to do something that will re-energize you—it will contribute to both your relationships and your goals and establish a healthy routine that can continue to serve you long after the degree is obtained.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Share your goals with a trusted family member or friend you can lean on when it gets tough, or take advantage of the many on-campus resources available to both undergraduate and graduate students:
- Writing Center
- Graduate writing support
- Graduate process therapy groups through Counseling & Psychiatric Services
- SilverCloud Online Mental Health Program
- Career Services resources for graduate students
We wish you the best with your goals this semester!
Dean of Students