Student writing in notepad with laptop in front of her
  • Save

7 Best New Year Resolutions to Help Students Succeed

Ah, the New Year. When people look back on what they did and did not achieve. When people remember they set resolutions all the way back on January 1st and forgot about them by January 2nd. When people realise they could have made a much stronger effort to improve themselves, but just couldn’t muster the energy, dedication, or time. The good news is that… pretty much everyone does it. And that includes students. But maybe this year is the year you are going to stick to it. This is the year that you will finally follow through on those resolutions… You just need some ideas on what those resolutions could be. Well, if you’re thinking about your New Year’s resolutions and you’re currently in school, university or college, this list of the top 7 New Year resolution ideas to help students succeed might just inspire you as you make your resolution list.

So take a look at this list of New Year resolution ideas for students, see what works for you, adapt it, and have a great start to the New Year in school, university or college!

Jason Soroski quote on New Year resolutions - “There is nothing 
magical about the flip 
of the calendar, but it 
represents a clean break, 
a new hope, 
and a blank canvas.”
  • Save

1. Be Focused on Your Outcomes

One thing I wish someone had told me when I was at university was to focus on my outcomes. (You may also think of these as “goals”, but I prefer to call them “outcomes” as words are powerful and a “goal” suggests it might not be attained where an “outcome” suggests it will be. I will do a post on this concept and update this when it’s done.) It’s so easy to float around doing this and that and not really being focused on where you want to end up. Some of that is good, and, indeed, necessary in order to help you discover yourself and what you want to do, but if you already know what you want to do, or have an idea about what you want to do, then there is a huge element of power in focusing on that and focusing on the things that are going to get you to where you want to go.

The reason I have put this at the top of my list for the best New Year resolutions for students is because no other resolution is as important or as useful as this one (assuming you know what your outcomes are). (Watch out for an upcoming post on figuring out your outcomes.) If you focus on your outcomes when making all your decisions – like on which classes to take, whether to stay up late and study, whether to do an extra-curricular activity to help with a scholarship application, etc – then you will be miles ahead of people around you who make decisions without focusing on where they want to go.

As a college student or as a school student, you need to start thinking about life after college or school. Student life and your social life is definitely important, but so is what you want to do with the rest of your life. The things you do now – in college, in university, at school – can greatly affect your trajectory in the future. You can use your time now to be ultra-focused on things that will help you get to where you want to go, and be miles ahead of your peers when you finish your schooling.

If you are only going to adopt one New Year resolution this year, I would make a strong case for this to be the one.

Mehmet Murat ildan quote on New Year resolutions - “Every year is a 
chess game. 
New Year is a new 
chess game! You make 
the right moves, 
you win the game!”
  • Save

2. Learn Good Habits

Getting out in “the real world” and working a job or starting your own business will be a whole lot easier if you ahve developed good habits during school or college. It’s very easy and tempting to slack off at college and take it easy because you don’t really have any responsibilities. No-one is going to care if you don’t turn up to class, no-one is going to care if you don’t do the reading, no-one is going to care if you don’t do anything more than the bare minimum to get the grades you want. However, I can pretty much guarantee that you will care once you get out of college or school.

This is not just from the viewpoint of wanting to get good grades. This is also about the fact that, once you are out of college or school – once you are no longer a student – you will probably want to start achieving things. Things that will demand that you can step up and do the things you need to do. You may want to high-paying job or to start your own business. You may want to buy a house. You may want to have expensive things. You may want more than being average – or below-average – will give you. And that requires being able to do more than you will be able to do if you don’t develop good habits.

You see, habits help you in all sorts of ways. Habits help you to sit down and do work when you really don’t want to. Habits help you to get up early and stay up late. Habits help you to focus on writing your book, your screenplay, your business plan, your PhD thesis, and so on. And developing these habits takes time and dedication – time which you may as well put in while you are at college or school.

I will write another post on developing habits and update this, but think about what you could be doing to help your future self now. Could you be getting up early and exercising? You could write a part of a book every night? Could you develop a habit of eating well so you perform at your best? Whatever it is, set it as a powerful New Year resolution and stick to it.

Richie Norton quote on New Year resolutions - “Last year told you 
what you needed to know. 
Now it's go time.”
  • Save

3. Focus on Learning, Not Grades and Scores

This is something that rarely gets told to students and adults alike – it is far more important to focus on learning than it is to focus on your grades. Woah! What? Yes! It is far more important to focus on learning than grades.

There has been a wave of research in to this, most famously by Carol Dweck, but it mostly comes down to this – when you tell people that what is important is the results they get, then they will not focus on the effort required to get that result, but merely the result itself. The effect that that has shows itself in many ways: it encourages people to find the easiest way to get the results required; it means if someone doesn’t get the results they want then they get down on themselves, when they could, instead, think about the amount of effort they put in instead, and it creates a, so-called, “fixed mindset” where people think they can’t grow and get better.

Sure, it may well matter what grades you get. But what is far more important is the effort you put in and the idea of focusing on learning and growing. This has a great affect that it frees up your mind from worry and it allows you to make new connections with a positive attitude, rather than an attitude of fear over whether you will get some final result. It allows you to know that, even if you do not get the grade you want, you can get better, you can grow, you can learn more.

It is incredibly important in life as a student, and after, that you focus on learning rather than results. This is a New Year resolution that seems small, but it has massive effects when you start to do it.

Cyril Cusack quote on New Year resolutions - "If you asked me for my 
new year resolution, 
it would be 
to find out who I am."
  • Save

4. Turn Up to Class Early

Kind of an add-on to learning good habits, turning up to class early could be an important first step in the right direction. It’s so easy to think that it does not matter if you turn up to class on time or not when you are at college. It’s easy to stroll in late, head to the back of the class, miss the beginning, and figure you’ll catch up later. Heck, most people do it. But what it does is it slowly creates a bad attitude towards time and obligations. This lack of respect towards time and towards being on time will pervade the rest of your life as you leave college or school. Your attitude of being late or not worrying about being on time will only affect you negatively in the future.

Out in the “real world”, people will think you don’t respect them if you turn up late. Many people will expect you to turn up early. If you have an important meeting with a potential client, job interviewer, potential investor, etc, being late will tell them that you are not a reliable person. And that can only affect your chances of being successful in what you want to do.

This is an easy habit to let get out of control, but it’s also an easy habit to fix quickly. And it’s best to do it while you are still in college or school, and when you are thinking about your New Year resolutions. This New Year, tell yourself that you are going to be just 5 minutes early for every college or school class you have and watch yourself feel better and more attune for it.

Taylor Duvall quote on New Year resolutions - "This year, be structured enough 
for success and achievement 
and flexible enough 
for creativity and fun."
  • Save

5. Take Part in More Activities, Try New Things

One of the best uses of your time as a student is to spend it trying out new things. It’s so important that you try new things in order to find out who you are, what you like, what you don’t like and the people that you like to spend your time with. It’s important for you to be trying out new things with other students, getting to know other people and seeing the world through different eyes.

Sure, you may know what you want to do with your life, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find out more about yourself and find some new activities or hobbies you like doing that will also serve you in the future.

When you get out in the “real world”, you will likely find your time dramatically squeezed. You will probably not have anywhere near as much time, as when you were a student, to try new things and to spend time doing things outside of work that bring you joy. So it is vital that you spend the time you have now while you are at school, university or college, to try new things and spend some of your extra time doing things you love.

One of the best New Year resolutions students can give themselves would be, for example, to try one new activity, club, or sport every semester. And try it for a least a few weeks. Pretty soon you will have a whole new set of experiences, skills, and friends that will be beneficial to you going forwards in your life.

Michael Josephson quote on New Year resolutions - "Approach the new year 
with resolve to find the 
opportunities hidden 
in each new day."
  • Save

6. Do Things That Scare You

Taking point 5 a bit further, you should also use your time at school and college to try things that scare you. School/college/university is a great place to try things without fear of being ridiculed for it. It is a great place to make mistakes and try new things that push you out of your comfort zone. You see, the thing is, people at college don’t really care what you do at college. There is this kind of unspoken understanding at college/university that people are discovering themselves and being true to themselves and that that is a glorious thing. Out in the “real world”, it tends to be a little scarier to try new things, as it’s easy to feel that you will be judged by work peers, bosses, mentors, potential partners, etc, which you don’t really worry about at college. I don’t like that fact, but the “real world” feels a little less freeing in that regard.

Further, if you try new things and you fail abysmally, it really won’t matter. If you take a job after college and try something new in it without seeking permission and it goes horrendously wrong, then it could cost you your job. So college seems like a great place to go out on a limb and try new things.

This is a great New Year resolution for students to shoot for because it will help with their resilience to fear in the future. It’s a fact of life that the more you try new things, the less you will be scared of them. So if you can try more and more new things, pretty soon you will rarely be scared of trying anything new, and that will be very powerful out in the “real world”. It’s scary to, for example, start your own company, be a freelancer, write a novel and put it out there. But if you have a wealth of experience in trying new things, then these fears will be minimal to you.

Vern McLellan quote on New Year resolutions - "What the new year 
brings to you 
will depend a great deal 
on what you bring 
to the new year."
  • Save

7. Don’t Waste Your Time

College is a great time to spend it however you want. The biggest temptation is to spend it not really doing as much as you could and taking it easy. And I get it – that is pretty much what most people do at college. But you have an opportunity to find yourself far ahead of your peers if you focus and you make good use of your time.

This does not mean you have to spend all your time studying, doing extra classes or signing up to every activity under the sun. But it does mean that you should be purposeful with most of your time. Rather than wasting your time sitting around doing nothing, playing video games, or generally chilling, you should try and spend your time focusing on things that mean something to you.

College is a time to find out who you are, express yourself, make mistakes, have successes, meet new people, try new things, go after your dreams, etc. It would be a terrible waste if you did not choose how to spend your time and you got to the end of your student years and realised you didn’t do with it that which you feel you should have and that you wasted so much time.

So consider the New Year resolution of being purposeful with your time. Every month, week, day, decide how you want to spend it, who you want to spend it with and what you want to spend it doing. Fundamentally, live your student life purposefully.

Melody Beattie quote on New Year resolutions - "The new year stands 
before us like a chapter in a book, 
waiting to be written. 
We can help write that story 
by setting goals."
  • Save


When it comes to the New Year and looking back on what you have achieved that year, more often than not, people realise that they didn’t achieve everything they wanted to. Don’t be that person. As you have a think this coming New Year about what you want to achieve next year, try and be someone who sticks to what they say they are going to do so that you can be proud when you look back in another year. Even if none of these New Year resolutions for students takes your fancy, have a think on what you might like to do and commit to doing it. Then stick to it and be proud of yourself at the end of the year.

Remember, the New Year represents new beginnings. Make new resolutions and commit to them. Treat this new beginning as a clean slate, or, if you did well last year, a platform to build upon. This is your year. Go out and make it happen for you.

Did you like this list of the top New Year resolution ideas for students? Do you have any more ideas of what a good New Year resolution for school students or college students would be? If so, drop them in the comments below and maybe I will add them!

  • Save
Disclaimer: Nothing on this website should be taken as medical or other professional advice. You should always seek the advice of a professional, qualified person.  

Enjoyed this? Share it!

It really helps the site to grow!

Subscribe for inspiring content

Subscribe and get interviews and other content first.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Want the latest inspiring content delivered straight to your inbox?


Subscribe and get interviews and other content first.

Share via
Copy link