As we roll into 2015, many of us are thinking about the changes we want to make in our lives and setting our New Year’s resolutions. In one oft-cited study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, researchers found that individuals who resolved to change a particular behavior, such as quitting smoking, were 10 times more likely to succeed than study participants who made no resolution.
Additionally, an individual’s readiness to change was the best predictor of whether he or she stuck to a New Year’s promise, according to the 2002 study, titled “Auld Lang Syne: Success predictors, change processes, and self-reported outcomes of New Year's resolvers and nonresolvers.”
Among the popular New Year’s resolutions listed by the federal government’s web portal, USA.gov, is “Get a Better Education.”
The growth of online learning has made this resolution more attainable for many individuals. Indeed, a June 2014 report by the U.S. Department of Education found “rapidly” increasing enrollment in online courses. Of the approximately 21 million postsecondary students nationwide, about 12% were enrolled exclusively in distance learning courses as of fall 2012.
Of course, enrollment doesn’t guarantee success. So, for all you prospective students out there who are gearing up to start classes in 2015 – and even for those of you already on the path to earning a degree or certificate online – here are some resolutions to consider:
The key to setting and sticking with resolutions is to keep them simple and specific.
BJ Fogg, director of the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University, advocates for forming “tiny habits” to reach long-term goals. By repeating those simple actions so that they become automatic, individuals can achieve long-lasting behavioral change.
If you’re a student in an online program, a tiny habit could involve simply committing to watching a video lecture when you get home from work on Mondays and Wednesdays. In other words, establish goals that are manageable and achievable, and yet will set the foundation for your long-term objective of becoming a successful online learner.
Jarin Eisenberg is Project Manager at the Women’s Business Center at Florida Institute of Technology and previously was coordinator of online degree programs at Florida Tech’s Bisk College of Business. To learn more about Eisenberg, read our interview here.