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Cat in the Stax: Keeping Resolutions 101

As Falvey’s Cat in the Stax, Rebecca writes articles covering a broad range of topics, from academics to hobbies to random events. All the while highlighting how Falvey Library can enhance your Villanova experience!

Happy 2024 and welcome back to campus, Wildcats! Hopefully, the break was a relaxing and restful time for you, and you came back ready to tackle a new semester and a new year.

Image of Janus by Andrey Kokorin

Fun Fact: January is named after Janus, the ancient Roman god of gates and doors symbolizing endings, beginnings, and transitions. He’s depicted with two heads: one head looking at the past and the other at the future.

While the month of January is a time of new beginnings and starting anew, with it comes an expectancy to reform yourself in some way (or at least set a goal to do so). The whole “New year, new me” mantra pressures people to change or improve themselves in some way. Not that self-improvement is a bad thing! But when people set new goals each year and then fall short, they get discouraged and quit altogether. With broad, generic goals and no plan on how to accomplish them, people tend to abandon their New Year’s Resolutions after a few weeks or so.

I’m personally of the belief that every day is a new chance to grow. Don’t restrict your personal growth to a yearly tradition, make it a daily focus. Didn’t go to the gym all week? Try again next week. Felt a little lazy and watched movies all day? Write it off as a personal day. Tomorrow is a new day, a new chance to follow through on your goals.

Sticking to New Year’s Resolutions is hard, especially when you’re a busy college student. The key is to be specific, have a detailed course of action, and hold yourself accountable. If you’re serious about your resolutions this year, take a look at this quick crash course with some tips on how you can achieve your goals.

Photo by Tim Mossholder from

Be Specific in Your Goals

A popular New Year’s Resolution is “to workout more” or “to lose weight,” which I will use as an example throughout this article. Not necessarily bad goals to have, but their broad nature makes attaining them much harder. How many times do you want to hit the gym each week? Are you looking to increase the length of your workouts? How much weight do you want to lose? It’s one thing to say “I want to workout more” and quite another to say “I want to go to the gym at least three times each week.” Make your goals measurable, give them a number so you’ll know when you’ve achieved them.

Have an Attack Plan

Now that you have a specific goal in mind, you need to lay out a course of action for how you are going to achieve it. Let’s go back to the gym example. Your goal is to workout at least three times a week. What days do you plan on going? What time? Set your workout times at the beginning of the week so you know going in when you want to hit the gym. Let’s say you decide you want to workout every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 4 p.m. You should also decide what you want to do at the gym before you get there. Are you going to focus on upper or lower body? Do you want to do some cardio? You should know exactly what you want to do before you enter the gym. This allows you to save time and also makes it easier to accomplish your goals. Having an attack plan can do wonders for your motivation.

Be Accountable

Upholding your resolutions is a lot easier when you hold yourself accountable. The best way to do this is to have someone else supporting you along the way and helping you stay on track. An accountability person doesn’t have to do much, they can act as simple reminders. Maybe all you need is a simple text. Using the workout example, this person could text you twice, once the morning you want to workout and then again in the evening: “Hey, are you going to the gym today?” / “Did you workout today?” Short and to the point, but a good way of keeping you focused and motivated. Now, you could also use reminders on your phone to do this, but I think having an actual person aware of your resolutions and willing to hold you accountable is much more beneficial.

It’s Ok to Start Over

I hate to say it, but you will probably relapse along the way. There will be a day, or a week, when you’re swamped with schoolwork or away or simply feeling lazy. Things happen. Don’t get down on yourself if you fail to stick to a routine or you mess up along the way (Note: your accountability person should not make you feel guilty either if you fall short). Each day is a new chance to try again. Beating yourself up for skipping Wednesday’s workout will discourage you more from going on Friday. If you’ve already ditched your New Year’s Resolution, it’s perfectly ok to start anew. Don’t just use the New Year as a motivator, make every day a new opportunity to improve and achieve your goals.

Rebecca Amrick

Rebecca Amrick is a first year graduate student in the English Department and a Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.


Cat in the Stax: Start SMART

By Ethan Shea

The 2021 Fall Semester is finally beginning, and for many it’s an exciting return to campus and some semblance of normalcy. With new schedules comes new opportunities and goals, but goal-setting isn’t always easy, so be sure to start SMART this fall.

What do I mean by start SMART?

SMART is an acronym used to help you set goals that you’ll be more likely to achieve. I’ve personally found that using SMART goals helps most when my planner starts to fill up and life begins to get busy, but everyone can benefit from learning a bit about them.


If your goal is not clearly defined, it’s easy to find a way out of accomplishing it. For example, if my goal is to run more this semester, I would be better off planning to run “five days per week” rather than just telling myself to run “more.” Ask yourself when and where you will work to achieve your goal and write it down. This way, there is less margin for error.


Most large goals aren’t achieved in an hour, day, or even a week. As a result, it’s helpful to take note of how you’re progressing toward your goal. Maybe you want to read five books this semester. After you finish one, write it down. Now you’re only four books away from reaching your goal!


All goals worth setting should be challenging, but this doesn’t mean they should be impossible to achieve. It’s not helpful to tell you set a goal of growing wings and flying this semester. Of course, you couldn’t do that. The main idea to take away from this portion of your SMART goal is to always ask how you will reach your goal. If you can’t answer this question, maybe your goal, like the wish for wings, is for the birds.


When all is said and done, what will you have gained from achieving your goal? All you’ll get from having a goal of eating fast food everyday is a stomach ache, but practicing a language for five minutes daily will bring you one step closer to fluency. Even if a goal is worthwhile, it may not be the right time to achieve it. Maybe your schedule is especially hectic this semester. You don’t want your goals to get in the way of each other, so make sure you plan accordingly.


If there is not a set date your goal needs to be achieved by, you’ll have more leeway to neglect the work needed to accomplish it. The next time you’re aiming for an A on an exam, write down specific times you plan to study for it. That way you’ll know exactly how much time you’re putting aside, so you’ll be able to focus on all of life’s other obligations accordingly.

In general, some of the most common goals for students are to make new friends and get good grades. Luckily, Falvey Memorial Library is here to help. From astronomy to accounting, librarians who specialize in each subject can be found with the help of Falvey’s subject guides. In addition to your academic aspirations, the Library is a great place to accomplish your social goals and spend time with friends. Maybe even grab a coffee together at Holy Grounds.

No matter what your goals are for this semester, stay safe and stay SMART!

Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a first-year English Graduate Student at Villanova and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.

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Cat in the Stax: Leveraging Your Working Break

In lieu of our traditional Spring Break, this semester Villanova is giving us two working breaks, with our first one being this Wednesday and Thursday. Below I’ve shared three tips about how to make the most of your working break and ensure it’s both a productive and relaxing two days.

#1 Evaluate Your Priorities This time is supposed to be a mental reset, so it is important to make sure you are prioritizing your mental health on these two days. As we get into the semester, I’m finding more and more that my priorities for the day are focused around the assignments I have due in the following days or the readings I have for class that night. But this week, I’m restructuring my priorities and putting relaxing activities, such as going for a walk or reading a book for fun, at the top of my list.

#2 Actually WORK It can be tempting to see this working break as two days off, especially if you are lucky enough to have a professor who is not holding classes, but remember this is an opportunity to catch up on or stay on top of your work! As you’ll see through my other tips, your work can look a little different this week, but you don’t want to end this week feeling more behind and overwhelmed than you did on Monday. Make yourself clear goals then crush those goals!

#3 Build Connections with Professors & Librarians This week, I’m focusing on building relationships with more of my professors. Many professors are holding extra office hours this week to talk to students about projects, papers, or exams. Leverage that extra time and drop-in to form a relationship. Subject librarians are an additional resource that you can connect with this week! Whether it’s just to say hi and see if they have any thoughts on your research topic for this semester or to ask for help finding that last elusive source you need for a paper, Falvey’s subject librarians are ready and available to help. Find a lists of all subject librarians here.

#4 Focus on Relaxation & Productivity On my “days off” when I still want to make sure I’m being productive and getting work done, I find little ways to make the day feel more relaxing. Maybe usually you’re up at 8 AM every morning to start working. This week, instead, let your day start at 10 AM or 11 AM and still end at the same time. Or, instead of working at your desk, do some work from bed or the couch. Those little tweaks to your routine may make it feel more like a break while still letting you stay on top of your work.

This is the first of two of Villanova’s working breaks this semester. Use this one as a trial run to see what works best for you. If you have any other tips to share or your plans to make the most of today and tomorrow, share in the comments!

Jenna Newman is a graduate assistant in Falvey Memorial Library and a graduate student in the Communication Department.

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Last Modified: February 17, 2021

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