By Anabelle Bergstrom, Peer Research Ambassador
It seems like no matter where you are or who you talk to this time of year, there are constant reminders to set goals for the next 365 days. Like many of you, I am a massive planner and love setting goals. I also love taking advantage of any opportunity that is put before me. I am constantly bombarded with new opportunities and research ideas that I just can’t seem to shake. What is the deadline for this opportunity? How can I fit that into my schedule? If I just push myself a little bit more this semester, I can fit all these opportunities in and make my goals a reality!
Sooner or later, everything catches up with me and I burnout. This year, one of my resolutions is to take better care of myself as a person rather than just a researcher and student. So many driven students, including myself, push ourselves too far when making plans for the next month, year, or even our entire undergraduate careers. With so many opportunities at our fingertips, it can be difficult to decide what to focus on and what can fall by the wayside. Having a plan can be extremely beneficial but becoming too committed to one doesn’t allow for flexibility and new ideas.
The most important tip I can give is to take time to outline your goals for your undergraduate career. Start broad. Think about overarching umbrella goals that you want to accomplish. This can be anything from being more involved to writing your first grant proposal. Remember, this list is not set in stone! I like to think of goals as a compass, a tool that gives you direction. Although goals help you chart a path, they do not and should not restrict you. Obstacles may get in the way, or you may decide to explore and go a different direction. We are all growing so much as human beings during these four years. The goals you set at the beginning of a new year may not line up with who you evolve into a year later. Sometimes the best experiences you will have in research and in life are those that you never saw yourself doing.
What if more undergraduates started making rest and reflection a priority, incorporating these into our goals and moving beyond constantly checking off boxes and collecting accomplishments? I find that when I am burnt out, my goals become shadowed, and I am unable to reevaluate where I stand with myself. Internal reflection is important, but reflection can only happen when you are completely aligned with all aspects of yourself. Taking a weekend off to visit the beach or jump into a new creative endeavor is sometimes the best thing you can do for your wellbeing. Setting and achieving goals can only happen when you are fully rested. Opportunities will always exist for when you are ready and at your best.
As you set yearly goals, remember that you are human. Your physical and mental well-being comes before engaging in research or taking advantage of all the opportunities available to you. Quality is better than quantity. The only way to produce meaningful research is by taking a step back and setting goals for yourself that will ultimately improve all aspects of your personal, social, and professional life.
Anabelle is a sophomore double majoring in Political Science and Philosophy, and minoring in Public Policy. Click here to learn more about Anabelle.