I’ve never been a big believer in New Year’s resolutions. Whenever the end of December rolls around, I generally feel some mix of annoyance and confusion towards the throngs of people settings goals that, research has shown, will almost certainly not come to fruition. The rationale behind my annoyance is simple: it seems to me that if you truly want to achieve a goal, you would start right away, not at some arbitrary point in the future when the last digit in the year turns over.

However, in saying this I also feel like a hypocrite. I love setting goals for when a new semester starts. I’m currently a student at CU, where I am graduating in May. With the beginning of every semester, I love to go through the things that have worked well in the past, and make both refinements and more radical changes. However, this feels like a fundamentally different goal-setting mentality to me. Because there is a concrete change in my life due to a shift in class schedule, content, and workload, every new semester presents an opportunity to break out of old habits and create new ones.

As I’m coming to the end of my college career, I’m realizing that these opportunities to change my behavior might come less frequently than they have been. Currently, I have at least three opportunities a year to effectively redefine how I spend my time. When my peers and I enter the workforce, these opportunities will lose their regularity, and will be predicated instead on moving cities, changing jobs, or other life-altering events.

These events are certainly not necessary to create positive change, but they can help to anchor new habits in a different reality. So for those trying to create a new habit, consider changing something else about your life in a way that supports those goals. That could be waking up earlier or later, or moving your working hours if possible. Changing too much could lead to increased stress and failure, but the right adjustments could be helpful in tying a new habit to a new routine.

I also see a benefit to the lack of constant disruptions in one’s schedule. If things are going well, it’s great to be able to keep them that way for longer than four months. Many semesters, I’ve found that I just reach the point where I’ve fine-tuned my habits and routines to my schedule in the final month, but all that hard work goes out the window when my classes completely rearrange. It would certainly be nice to be able to tweak and build iteratively over a longer period.

I can’t say that I’ve had the opportunity to compare these two methods of goal-setting. I’ve been in school essentially my entire life, so I’ve always had the chance to change things up in August or January. However, I think that it’s important to consider how the lack of rapid turnover in scheduling might affect my goal-setting going forward.