New Year, New Goals: Setting Academic Resolutions for January

Academic New Year resolutions might not seem as glamorous as your regular New Year resolutions, but they could be a vital part of your academic journey. This will help you evaluate how you have performed academically in the past year and where you can change things to improve as the year moves forward. This could include refining how you plan your schedule, how to revise well when you’re in your student accommodation, or how you tackle upcoming deadlines.

Paper that has 2024 goals written on a blue table with magnifying glass , plants pen , coffee and paper clips

1. Get into better sleeping habits

This might not seem like a purely academic New Year resolution, but it is a very important one that leads into all aspects of your life. If you are a bad sleeper, this will impact how you feel when you wake up in the morning and how alert and focused you are in class. This can mean you forget to take things to lectures, or you might not have the concentration to write and revise well. It could even lead to you missing important lectures, seminars, and meetings.

For the New Year, aim for the recommended 6 to 8 hours of sleep each night, and even if you do socialise and go out, keep in mind the tips and tricks before bed to help you get into a deep sleep. This includes switching off your phone, tablet, and all screens before bed to properly unwind and keep a consistent bedtime.

Woman extending her arms feeling refreshed after sleep in a bed

2. Focus on learning, not just the end result

It is easy to get swept up thinking about the marks you’ll receive for assessments and exams, but university should be a time when you embrace learning and love the journey as much as you can. While learning how to succeed specifically in your exams is important, forming a solid foundation of what you are learning and strengthening your knowledge can make the process smoother.

Focussing on learning will stand you in good stead for not just your university days but your entire life outside of academia too. Think about the purpose of each piece of coursework you are given, consider the concepts of each lecture and topic, and think about how you can apply these skills and this knowledge to other areas of your life.

Girl learning from a laptop in a library

3. Be specific with your goals

Your New Year goals should be set out in a way that is specific to you. Write them down so that you know what your goals are and why they are important to you. It is important that any goals you have are measurable. Quantifying your goals can give you complete control over how you reach them.

While goals like “I want to study harder” are great, it could be beneficial to narrow down all aspects of that goal so that you can measure them. A good example of a measurable goal is “I want to achieve an overall merit in my assessments by the end of the term”. This can help you assess whether you have reached the goal when the time comes around.

A red book that has new year goals written and a black pen

4. Achievable targets in full view

Once you know what your goals are, why they are needed, and how you will get there, it is important to make sure that they are achievable. Break down your long-term goals into smaller, achievable targets.

Smaller targets in between are crucial as the goals are likely to be spread across a longer period. Work out what you need to do each week to hit your next target.  This could be a certain amount of revising each week, learning core topics and modules, or getting coursework finished by a certain date.With regular targets met you will soon see how achievable your longer-term goals are, and this is a great thing for your academic New Year resolutions.

Now, you need to consider how best to keep your targets in mind at all times. Visualising your targets and how you will achieve them is a successful technique for many people. Write down your goals on a piece of paper or on a notebook, and make sure it is somewhere that you can see regularly. This will remind you of why you are working hard and how to get to where you want to be.


Girl sticking post it notes on a wall

 5. Prep better and take better notes

The notes that you take are important to completing coursework accurately and effectively. This will also help you revise when exam time rolls around later in the year. One target for the New Year should be to think about how you prep for your lessons and how to take better notes for future use.

You might find that some information that is discussed in class isn’t necessarily included in the reading material. This is why it is so important to be fully prepared before each lecture so that you can take notes that are detailed enough to make sense when you refer back to them during your later study.

There are a few ways in which you can prepare to take better notes. Always remember, you can’t possibly write down every single word that the professor says. So, take that pressure away and learn how to write key phrases, words, and sections to look into later on.

Stay focused, with your phone turned off and away from all distractions. Get as comfortable in your seat and with your notepad at hand (we always think it’s better to take notes by hand than to type them on your laptop, as typing activates your brain and memory in a different way).

You should always be confident enough to ask questions so that you don’t miss anything important. It can be helpful to share notes with classmates to make sure that you haven’t missed anything important!

Student in a yellow shirt highlighting her notes

There are a few different things that you can look at when it comes to your academic New Year resolutions. We hope that this list of tips and guidance has been helpful to your own quest to keep improving throughout the academic year.