Self-reflection, planning & habit building to conquer your 2022 goals

It's never too late to set (or adjust) your objectives and make a strategy, no matter where you are right now. ...

My favourite time of year is the beginning of the new year. I get that it has a poor reputation for being an arbitrary time of year to “transform your life,” and that New Years’ resolutions are notorious for failing by February. Maybe 2021 was a really good year for you, and you’re on a roll. Or perhaps you’ve had a particularly rough year and are feeling trapped and uninspired. It’s never too late to set (or adjust) your objectives and make a strategy, no matter where you are right now.


Success is never a by-product of chance; it is the outcome of deliberate preparation and concentrated work. You must plan for 2022 if you want it to be better than the previous year. For years, I’ve utilised a monthly system of self-reflection and planning, and it’s been crucial in helping me become a more thoughtful, focused, and happier person.




Look Back Before You Look Ahead

As we welcome the year 2022, I’ve put up a list of questions you should ask yourself to help you create realistic goals:


  • What can you do better in 2022?
  • What went horribly wrong in 2021, and how can you avoid it?
  • What limiting behavioural patterns did I repeat this year?
  • What contributed to your growth (even if it was just a little bit) in 2021?
  • Who boosted my energy levels most? Who drained my energy levels most?
  • What types of goals do you want to fulfil in 2022 (e.g. career, lifestyle, family, mental health)?
  • Which habits had the most positive impact on my life?
  • Which habits had the most negative impact on my life?
  • What’s the biggest realisation you’ve had in 2021?
  • What worked and didn’t work in 2021 and what needs to change to achieve success?


3 Steps to Setting and Achieving Your Goals in 2022



  1. Write down what you want to achieve


Do you plan on writing a book this year? Do you want to eat more healthily? Do you want to start meditating? Imagine having unlimited access to whatever you desire and only having to choose from a menu.



  1. Write down your next steps


After you’ve worked out what you want, write down what you’ll need to do next to get there. Start by asking yourself these questions:


  • What are my restrictive behavioural patterns and what can I do to fix them?
  • How can I do more of the things that have had a positive impact on my life?
  • How can I do less of the things that have had a negative impact on my life?


If you’re starting a new book, for example, the following stage may be to come up with some book ideas or write a page. Keep it brief and straightforward so that your next step is something you can do on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.


Don’t overcomplicate things; getting started is the key to achieving ambitious goals.



  1. Take action — starting today


It’s time to get started now that you know what you want and have your next steps mapped out. What five goals would you set for yourself if you had just one year to accomplish them? After you’ve selected your five goals for the year, prioritise them so you know where to focus your energy.


Here’s a pro tip: when something is truly important to you, go after it now – today.

Examine your to-do list and choose one item that you can start today. You’ll be astonished at how much progress you can achieve this year if you follow this approach consistently. Additionally, consider using a spreadsheet or Notion template to monitor your goals.

It doesn’t have to be grand; just do something to get you closer to your goals and resolutions for 2022. Want to exercise more in 2022? Do a 10-minute workout today. Want to write more for W’SUP next year? Write a 500-word article today. Want to read more books? Read for 15 minutes today.

Studies have shown that group study sessions can increase productivity. Photo: Tulane Public Relations/Wikimedia Commons, published under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

5 Daily Habits to Become a Learning Machine in 2022

Learning does not end when you acquire your formal degree; rather, it begins at that moment. “Wisdom is not a product of learning, but of a lifetime endeavour to acquire it,” Albert Einstein observed. I’ve discovered that the more I study, the sharper my thinking gets, the more opportunities I create, and the more meaningful my life becomes. This is why, in order to acquire as much wisdom as possible, I’ve set a few reading and study routines.

  1. Curate Your Online Media

Instead of serving as a source of inspiration and learning, most people’s social media feed serves as a source of entertainment and gossip. What if, instead of meaningless entertainment, you were met with inspiring accounts that taught you new things when you opened Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube? The average Australian spends about 1h 46m a day on social media. With so much time spent on social media each day, it’s a good idea to focus on self-improvement while curating your digital feed.

  1. Make Self-Education a Top Priority

I’m not here to criticise the tertiary education system; rather, I’m here to encourage self-education. Learning does not end when you graduate from TAFE or college or university; rather, it begins. You can acquire any skill at any time of day because of the internet’s abundance of knowledge. There’s a wealth of knowledge available at your fingertips, whether it’s through YouTube videos, blog articles, online courses, SkillShare classes, books, email newsletters, or podcasts. There are no excuses.

  1. 1 Hour of Entertainment → 1 Hour of Learning

I’m not suggesting that you eliminate all forms of entertainment from your life. You know you don’t have to live like a Spartan. That isn’t much fun in life. Do you, on the other hand, require 5+ hours of entertainment every day? What if you swapped an hour of Netflix or social media for an hour of reading, listening to a podcast, taking a course (on Skillshare or Coursera), or something else? This one modification in your daily routine will have a significant impact on your personal and professional growth. To put it another way, one hour of daily reading equates to 45–55 novels each year.

  1. Broaden Your Horizons and Stop Judging People

Everyone, in my opinion, can teach us something. Every individual, whether a janitor or a highly successful CEO, a criminal or a monk, has something to teach us. The majority of individuals, on the other hand, allow their egos, beliefs, and judgments to come in the way of keeping an open mind and learning from others. A spiritual person is labelled as a freak. A successful entrepreneur is labelled as a workaholic. They consider a wealthy investor to be a jerk. A closed mind is characterised by rapid judgement. Fixed beliefs are indicated by a closed mentality. They are an indication of someone who refuses to learn. What if you put aside your judgement and replaced it with curiosity? What if you began inquiring about other people’s opinions, habits, and day-to-day activities? This does not imply that you must agree with everyone, but it does imply that you must retain an open mind. Overall, let go of your ego, judgments, and beliefs so that you may broaden your horizons and learn from others.

While books have been slowly translating over to digital media platforms such as Kindle, nothing beats that antique book smell. Photo: Julia Spranger/Wikimedia Commons, published under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0.
  1. Read Books. Seriously.

Reading books is the biggest life hack there is. To no one’s surprise, the average millionaire reads more than 24 novels every year. Books have taught me more about entrepreneurship, marketing, and investing than my university degree ever did. Here’s what I recommend if you want to make reading a stronger daily habit: Make it a part of your morning or evening routine by scheduling it in your calendar app or productivity planner. Sign up for a free trial of an audiobook service to read on the move and most importantly, turn your ‘dead time’ into learning time (e.g., a daily 1-hour commute can be used to listen to audiobooks).

Also, if you haven’t read James Clear’s book Atomic Habits, I strongly advise you to do so. Here are a few inspirational phrases that have remained with me and will get you pumped for 2022:


  • “Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.”
  • “You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results.”
  • “Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.”
  • “Success is the product of daily habits — not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.”
  • “When you can’t win by being better, you can win by being different.”

“I might be crazy”: Mental health over uni burnout

Your university career can wait, units can be re-taken but you are irreplaceable!...

Trigger/content warning: Topics surrounding mental illness and suicide are discussed throughout this anecdote. See below for mental health and wellbeing services available for WSU students.

You know that song that goes:

“I remember when,

I remember, I remember,

when I lost my mind?

There was something,

So special about that place”

(Song: Crazy, Gnarls Barkley)

Because I have been thinking a lot about it of late. Because I can tell you it has taken on a whole new meaning within my head since the end of the last year. 2020 was one hell of a new decade to enter and with the re-introduction of the masks this May. Needless to say – last year is still a bleeding wound that we are still trying to heal.

It is honestly something that I have struggled with, while the world caught the virus and we all wanted to jump off Zoom and get on the beers. For the last year, I learned about how terrible I was at recovering, and truly how sick I had been making myself over the first few years of my degree. I, unfortunately, had to learn this the hard way and from the bed of an extra fun hospital ward, which takes your shoelaces upon entry.

Illustration: Hayley Elford. I drew this image while in hospital, reflecting the challenges that stood in the way of my goals. Blue = mental health, green = Tourette Syndrome and red = university.

Towards June of last year, my mental health took an unexpected turn as it spiralled. The social isolation, mixed with the wrong medication for my body had combined with the overarching backlash I had been facing with the university over my existence as a neurodivergent noisemaker. With my Tourette’s Syndrome, my tics have created an extra challenge of proving my capabilities as a teacher, and worthiness of the same education and placement as my peers. Over the years, I have advocated for myself, pushing at personal limitation by trying to educate others about Tourette Syndrome and tics. I participated in social events, student clubs, studied full time as well as volunteered outside of the university, running a support group and community for others with Tourette’s. In the process, I created a version of myself that was ill and unable to see a light out.

For many students, I have been told when faced with a similar situation, a person would stop, take a break and take the much-needed time to recover. For me, I took a 10-day stay in a psych ward and choose to keep working towards my path of teaching. I would call student wellbeing services to inform them that I would not be able to complete my assignments, due to the limited access to devices in psych wards. At the same time, I would be working on my assignments using the random bit of paper I could annoy the nurses for, and some random crayons I had found left by other patients. This was my first admission to the psych ward – but it would not be my last.

After getting out of the hospital, the first thing I would do is jump straight away back into uni, pushing myself until I reached a second breaking point. This time around, I tried to take a hold of my life and emailed the university, explaining that my absence was due to the stress of university life, and facing continuous discrimination for my tics.

Once again, I had found myself in the mental health crisis that I had never expected …except this time around – I found myself in a new psych ward and stayed there for a month. Like the time before, I would exit the ward to jump both feet back into my university work with a passion and anger to follow my dreams of becoming a teacher. History repeated itself, as I followed the same spiralling pathway that leads back to the psych ward, again, and again, believing that the next time would be different… that I would not burnout again.

I have managed to stay out now for 4 months. I will not lie and tell you that walking the mental health journey has been easy or that I will not go back again – but I do want to share my experience. I want students in all bodies and minds to know they are not alone. I want students to understand that they should not have to work until they are burnt out to feel worthy of being able to study, and that they need to be just as understanding about their mental health as they would be of the physical health. I want to share this so I can prevent others from experiencing the unnecessary expectations that I put on myself and urge my peers, family, and friends yet to be made …please remember that you matter too. Your university career can wait, units can be re-taken but you are irreplaceable!

I may be crazy, but remember – you are still valid, and it is okay to admit that you are not okay.


If you have experienced distress from the content in this piece, or you are struggling with mental illness, suicide ideation or any other factors negatively impacting your ability to cope, consider getting in touch with the following service:

Counselling @ Western Sydney Uni 1300 668 370 (option 4 then option 1)

Disability Services @ Western Sydney Uni 1300 668 370 (option 4 then option 1) or disability@westernsydney.edu.au

Lifeline 13 11 14

Headspace 1800 650 890

Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636

NSW Mental Health Line 1800 011 511