It’s been back to school season in England at the moment (and in most other countries I believe if it hasn’t been already) and along with that has come the realisation that next Monday will be the last time I ever go back to (secondary) school – hopefully I’ll go to university but they are quite different experiences.
Every time I’ve returned to school in the past there always seemed to be something to look forward to – last year it was starting sixth form / A Levels, the years before that it was starting GCSEs and seeing friends who I hadn’t seen over summer and it’s not that I’m not excited for the latter, it just feels as though I haven’t been able to properly sit down still and have quiet time for myself over summer (however I’m extremely grateful of everything I was able to do over the holidays). Upper Sixth (Year 13) is a daunting year, as there’s university applications to worry about pretty much as soon as I start and then there’s mocks and my real, actual A Level exams at the end of it – which my entire secondary school career has been building up to (I’m scared to say the least).
So, in order to keep my feet firmly rooted on the ground and to keep (excess) worry at bay, I thought I’d create some resolutions and goals to keep this year in focus and in perspective.
1. Keep the End Goal in Mind
One question I can find myself asking when I’m stressed or generally tired of school is ‘what is this all for?’ or ‘why am I doing this?’. These questions, funnily enough, don’t aid my stress levels or productivity whatsoever and normally end up with me in an existential crisis – all in all, not an enviable state and one I do not wish to make a habit of. When I speak about ‘keeping the end goal in mind’, the “end goal” is university, something which I’ve been dreaming about going to for so long. I know I have the capability of going to a good one, however it’ll end up remaining a dream unless I work for it, so hopefully by keeping this long term goal at the forefront of my mind I can focus my efforts and reasoning onto it – especially in moments of doubt.
2. Don’t Lose Track of Myself
While my first goal was aimed towards myself academically, this one is targeted towards my personality. Often, when we find ourselves stressed, we end up behaving in ways different to our normal selves. For me, this often results in me lashing out with my tolerance levels hitting rock bottom which is no good for a) my mental state b) people around me (especially my family). Whilst keeping our heads screwed on tight is a lot easier said than done, I hope to retain my sense of self by prioritising what I know is important to me. These tend to be small things, such as going to church on Sunday, however I think that it’s these small habits which can really help keep us and our personalities in check – so we don’t stray too far from our own path and stay true to who we are.
3. Learn How to Say No
I don’t know about you, but I’m the kind of person which finds it hard to say no to people, and in the cases in which I do I end up feeling guilty – mostly of the time for no sensible reason. Last year (along with the years before) there was a lot on my plate and even before I start this academic year I know it won’t be any different. I already know which extra-curriculars I want to devote my time to, the school commitments I already have and how much time my job will take up and it’s a lot to juggle on top of my academics. As a result, I don’t realistically have much more time to give up whilst staying sane. This year, when I’m asked to devote time to something extra or help out on an additional project, I need to evaluate my “why” – does it benefit me or those I care about? is it a good deed for the day? how important is this task? how much free time do I have in this moment? Only after asking myself these questions should I be committing myself to saying yes, rather than doing so because I feel bad for saying no. Saying yes isn’t necessarily a bad thing (most of the time it’s good), but it can become one when comes at the detriment of oneself.
4. Give Myself a Break
This goal ties in nicely with the previous one and it’s to make sure I’m relaxing enough. For the most part, I know this won’t be too much of a probably in the next couple months, however exam season will be a different story altogether. Giving myself breaks comes both in the form of relaxing in the evenings (when I’d be too tired to work anyway, let’s be real) but also leaving the house on weekends and getting a breath of fresh air for once whilst avoiding cabin fever. Most importantly, I need to make sure I’m spending time with other people, as whilst I never realise it at the time, not being around others ends up exacerbating current stress and anxiety levels and having a chat or a laugh always helps to relieve part of the problem.
There you have it, those are my 4 goals I’m aiming to have at the forefront of my mind as I head into this academic year.
Do you have any goals that you’ve set for yourself? If you do, what are they and do you think you’ll stick to them?
Feature photo taken from Unsplash.