New Year equals new pressures but old resolutions

Dear Reader,

I’d be remiss if I do not start by wishing you a Happy New Year. And to fellow students, may you find the time to study and to complete your assessments on time, anResolutionsd, more importantly, may you pass your assessed assignments and final exams!

As I take one last look at something I vow to give up in 2018, I can’t help but also look around the corner at what’s ahead. For a lot of people, including me, January 1 2018 meant an opportunity to make New Year’s resolutions. But for me, and fellow students, it is really new pressures with old resolutions that were made in October, back when we registered for our course. 2018 means the time to crank up our studies to receive passing grades. So, it is only fitting to think of a New Year’s resolution in terms of passing the final exams!

When it comes to studying, making New Year’s resolutions is not the same as making one to lose weight or to stop eating junk food, although those are hard too. But, the New Year offers an opportunity to reflect on last year and to look ahead and hope that this year might be better than the previous one. Therefore, there are reasons for me and fellow distance learners to be excited about 2018. Because if one believes, as Oprah Winfrey said, that “…a new year [is] another chance for us to get it right” then we have valuable reasons to celebrate the New Year.

However, I didn’t make New Year’s resolutions simply because I have not yet achieved those I made 10 years ago. I have a lot of catching up to do, therefore I refused to add to my mountain of resolutions. But I did take some time at 11:59 pm on December 31 2017 to look at my habits of learning. They weren’t very good ones. I feel that it is time to crank up my studies because of what awaits me on the horizon.

With the pressure of the formative and assessed assessments around the corner, starting a new habit is hard. But the only choice available to us distance learners is to forge ahead amidst the daily challenges we face in our professional, social, and private lives. With this mindset, I resolved to research the particular habits and traits of successful learners. I found a couple of traits that resonated with me in an article entitled “8 Habits of Highly Successful Learners” by the psychologist Marc Smith. These traits are as follows:

  • Effort: If you don’t put the work in, you’re not going to get much out. Learners, who literally put in the hours, reap higher rewards.
  • Self-concept: Psychologists argue that how you see yourself as a learner affects how you learn. A positive self-concept is positively correlated with achievement. However, self-concept needs to be realistic and achievable – over-estimation can be as equally damaging as under-estimation.
  • Persistence: Not giving up, even when it gets difficult!
  • Enjoyment of learning: Not seeing learning as something you are forced to do, but rather something that can be enjoyable and personally fulfilling.

Since this blog is about New Year’s resolutions, I resolve to study hard this year, which is hardly a new resolution. Since this is a new year, it brings with it new expectations. So, if you’re feeling the pressure of preparing for the upcoming assessed assignments like me: We got this. We’re in this together. My previous blog post entitled “A Busy Professional’s Guide to Learning” has a list of various tips. Check it out to read about some tips that could be useful.

I’ll be pushing you along every time I can with my blogs, and would appreciate if you could also do the same by posting comments. Remember that we are not in a competition with one another, although it may feel like it. This is your learning journey, and as a distance learner, you are a special kind of student who is able to juggle work, family, and study. Not an easy feat! No matter what happens this year, including if you do not achieve your New Year’s resolutions, the good news is that next year you can make this same resolution again: to pass your assessed assignments and final exams!

Happy New Year and I only have one wish for you: may you pass your assessed assignments and final exams!

Issa studies Demography and Health by distance learning.

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