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The AIU blog shares ideas, information and tips aimed at helping you get ahead personally and professionally, with topics ranging from online learning success to career development.

Sticking to Your New Year’s Study Resolutions

Image: Pencil Hitting a Bullseye - Sticking to Your New Year’s Study Resolutions

You made a New Year’s resolution to hunker down and improve your study habits with the best of intentions. Now, the trick is keeping the commitment you made to yourself and making it work for you.

Like any goal, it’s tempting to deviate from the plan. The thing is, you need to keep the end-game — graduation — in the forefront of your mind so you don’t lose traction.

Here’s how.

1. Look Down the Road

Living in the moment is easier than big-picture thinking, of that there’s no doubt. However, you need to keep in mind your ultimate goal: earning your degree, with solid grades, in the timeframe you’ve allotted.

2. Consider the Present and Future

According to the Harvard Business Review, while landmarks — like New Year’s — do help motivate people to generate goals since they’re a time to reflect, these resolutions are most effective when instant gratification is juxtaposed with long-term goals. Spend some time thinking about your present state (perhaps that’s busy, multitasking, stressed) and your future potential (ideally degreed, more financially secure and able to do what you want more often, when you want to do it).

RELATED: How to Form an Online Study Group

3. Don’t Underestimate Habits

You know the saying, “Old habits die hard?” Well, it’s true. Your study habits — whether it’s listening to music that distracts you or taking too many breaks — may be your biggest impediment to achieving your resolutions in a lasting way. Acknowledging and remaining aware of these negative behaviors can help generate a roadmap for good study habits, ones that help you keep, meet and hopefully, exceed your resolutions.

4. Develop Actions, Not End Goals

Contrary to popular opinion, simply setting goals may not always yield the best results, according to Charles Duhigg, New York Times reporter and author of “The Power of Habit.” In reality, you may be better served listing actions rather than actual “goals,” because the actions you take to reach your goal are ultimately what help you succeed. Start by morphing your established study goals into realistic, actionable items (or activities). Those goals — when broken into steps — over time can morph into a new, healthy and forward-thinking approach that gets you where you want to be.

RELATED: How to Find More Time to Study

5. Reward yourself

Deprivation is not much of an incentive. That’s why you’re more likely to follow through with your study resolutions if you figure out what inspires you to keep on keeping on, whether it’s a candy bar after a particularly unpleasant study or homework task or allowing yourself 10 minutes of relaxation for a job well done.

6. Don’t overdo it

It’s easy to become overwhelmed when you have a lot on your plate. That’s why you’re better served focusing on one study task at a time. According to Duhigg, focusing on what’s most important helps lay the groundwork for handling other tasks and obstacles in similar, successful fashion.