12 Ways to a New Semester, New Year, New Beginnings

We're a few days into the month of January and I'm sure your social media feeds have been flooded with everyone else's New Year's Resolutions.  You either love or hate those three little words that mean so much.  But let's face it... we all love a fresh start.  And while we have a chance every day to change the direction of our lives, what better time to do it than in January?  Rather than come up with a list of sticky goals (lose ten pounds, save a thousand dollars, get a 3.5 gpa) I've resolved to make 2012 a year of revolutions rather than resolutions.  And I want you to join me!  

I've made a list of 12 characteristics to aspire to.  12 traits that I would be flattered to have attached to my own name.  12 things that I think we all should work towards.  Rather than empty goals, let's take a wholelistic approach to our lives and strive toward a well-rounded personality.

1. Take the class you've been dying to take.  Ballroom dancing even if you have two left feet.  Latin even though it's a "dead language."  Web design.  Intro to Culinary Science.  Wine 101.  Pottery.  The easiest way to learn something new is to actually sign up for it.  Fellow students and a teacher will hold you accountable. 

2. Pick a new spot to haunt.  Want to make new friends, enlarge your social circle?  Step out of your comfort zone a little.  Instead of heading to the same corner in the library every Tuesday and Thursday evening, shake things up.  That coffee shop you've been to once or twice and liked... commit yourself to studying there twice a week.  Make yourself a regular there.  New faces and spaces will freshen up your life.

3. Apply for your dream.  Whether it's the ultra-selective grad school you want to attend, the amazing internship you'd give your right arm for, or the dream job you want after graduating... apply for it!  Even if you don't think you'll get in, even if you don't think you're quite qualified... take the leap.  It never hurts to try.  For every three "safe" choices you apply for, apply for one fantasy.  You might be pleasantly surprised.

4. Spend a week spending nothing. Declare one week a no-spend week. Spend absolutely no money (except in an emergency).  Get creative with using up the stuff you have left over in your fridge and cupboards.  Take the bus, train, or walk rather than fill up your tank.  Make your own coffee in the morning instead of hitting up the campus cafe.  By the end of seven days, you'll be shocked by how much you can really save if you try!  Daring?  Make it a two-week no-spending-spree.

5. Take part in Make Your Life Amazing 2012 series.  Charade has always been one of my favorite blogs.  Megan whips up incredibly uplifting posts to get you inspired and motivated in life.  This series is all about what its title suggests... taking your life in an amazing direction this year.  She's got you covered with encouraging words, insightful advice, and productive assignments.  I highly encourage that you start following along and join in!

6. Re-vamp your living space.  Didn't think I'd get through this post without a decorating mention, did you?  I deeply believe that our surroundings impact how we feel, think, and act.  Evaluate a space that needs attention.  It may be a small project---like making your desk a more productive homework zone.  It could be medium sized---like re-arranging the furniture in your dorm room for a fresher feel.  Or it could be a larger task to take on---like teaming up with roommates to re-decorate the apartment's shared living room and kitchen so that its more useful and pleasing to everyone.  A fresh perspective in your living space will give you a fresh perspective on your life.

7. Invest in your health.  Diet and fitness resolutions are oh-so-typical, but I'm not going to tell you to spend exactly 30 minutes at the gym everyday or start counting your calories.  But do realize the value of your body.  Even seemingly little things like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or drinking water with your meals will contribute to a healthier you.  Take some time to look at your life and find areas for improvement.  Staying active and eating well will bring up your energy and confidence level.  And who can't benefit from that?

8. Be independent.  As college students, it can be difficult to balance sudden responsibility with independence.  As young women especially, we should do all we can to increase our independence and stability as we grow up.  Each week, do something to increase your independence.  Eat alone.  Brush up on how to check your oil, vehicle fluids, and change a tire.  Look at how you're spending and save money.  The more comfortable you are standing on your own two feet, the more likely you are to succeed in college and after graduation in the real world.

9. Wipe the slate clean.  Holding grudges only holds you back from opening up.  Take the new year as an opportunity to forgive.  Forgive friends for shortcomings, mistakes, and misunderstandings.  Forgive exes for the hardships and heartaches.  Forgive yourself, too.  It doesn't mean you have to be best friends with those who hurt you, but just let it go.  Let go of the negative feelings so that you have more room for future positive feelings.

10. Dare to... whatever!  Life is too short to live it afraid.  This year, take some chances.  Don't do anything dangerous or reckless.  But allow yourself to be adventurous.  Allow space in your life for spontaneity.  Be a little impulsive.  Say yes to random road-trips, foods you've never tasted, and hanging out with someone outside of your typical circle.  Be bold.

11. Tend to your spiritual needs.  Whatever you believe in, invest more of yourself in that belief.  Often times, when we're feeling most restless and lackluster in life it is because something is missing.  That something could be bigger than our everyday life.  Attend a new church.  Join a small group.  Schedule meditation time into life. Find ways to integrate your spiritual beliefs with your college life.  It may be the missing piece to your happiness.

12. Be lovely!  Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  And no, Lovely Undergrad isn't asking you to be shallow.  But focus on the lovely and being lovely in life.  Lovely goes beyond the surface.  It's not just having a pretty face and tasteful fashion.  Lovely is about radiating.  Smile more.  Look at things through positive eyes. Put grace and charm in all of your doings.  Strive to be the kind of person that others remember as being lovely, wonderful, and good to be around.

Let's not stop at just twelve.  Lovely Undergrad wants to know what particular trait you're aiming to aspire to this year and how you plan to get there!



Anonymous said...

GREAT POST!! (: I think this is for everyone!! :)

Stormy said...

I love this! Before this new semester, I really wanted to try and live a little bit more adventurously, because I'm a pretty cautious person, but it's one thing to say that, another to entirely act on. I love these ideas because they are so perfect for where most people seem to be right now. And I did #1 last semester- I took a photography class- and it was a great decision.

Melissa said...

Great! How about...

Connecting with people in the OLD FASHIONED WAYS (i.e. not via social media..texts...emails).

Whether it be simply sending a friend the odd postcard or snail mail, hugging your Dad goodnight, or resolving to phone your Grandma at least once a week, our generation sometimes seems stuck between being so constantly connected to others yet disconnected from "real" tangible social encounters.

Unknown said...

Thanks, lady! :)

Unknown said...

I'm a very cautious person, too. It seems to increase with age. :S Haha. That's lovely that you made time to take a photography class! I'd love to, too! :)

Unknown said...

I LOVE this idea. So very true. There's something so wonderful about getting an actual letter or card in the mail--definitely feels more special! I try to call my grandma once a week. (:

Great resolution! One of the best I've heard.

abrew said...

Jessica, your blog is fantastic! Thanks for the inspiration Check it out:

T. Marie said...

This is a great list! Thank you for posting.