How to Achieve Your New Year's Resolution

student life tips & tricks Feb 01, 2019

Want to achieve your New Year’s resolution? Check out these top tips and free resources for you!

Learning a new skill is one of the top New Year’s resolutions people make every year. Some people want to learn a new language, others want to be better at money management. Following are some tips - and free resources - to tackle your New Year’s Resolution.

Trying to learn something new can be time consuming and exhausting. However, we generally gain more satisfaction from fully immersing ourselves in such activities. We tend to spend our extra time on things like social media, watching Netflix, and other passive activities because they’re more accessible. Therefore, if we really want to tackle a new skill, we have to remove obstacles!

Everyone has different obstacles they need to overcome. The most common are motivation, lack of time, cost, and access to teaching material. Below, we’ll talk about how to conquer these different barriers.


Building a space that encourages you to develop a skill is key for motivating yourself. If you want to study Spanish, set up a Spanish corner. Why are you learning Spanish? To visit another country? Hang a poster of that place above your desk. To better communicate with relatives? Set up a photo of you and your family. When you look at those things, you’ll be reminded of what drives you. Put your books out in clear view, and any other touches that make it an inviting space. If you have an uncomfortable chair then you won’t like to sit there. Swap it with a better one from elsewhere, or see if you can track down a one at Goodwill or online. Any little barrier that can be removed should be if you want to achieve your goals!


When you have a set working or class schedule, building a time is relatively straightforward. You need to plan it like you would for a class or a shift – consistently, and with importance. If you prioritize it, you’re more likely to complete it, rather than blowing it off for hanging out with friends or a chore. If your schedule fluctuates regularly, building a time for practice can be more difficult. Pairing this time with another activity can be effective. For example, if you always have a lunch break at work, bring out your books or language app and practice then. Practicing in 15-minute chunks two to four times a day is better than not doing anything at all after all! If you can’t bring whatever you’re practicing to work, like a musical instrument, it’s never a bad thing to read up on your hobby during your lunch break for more tips and tricks. You can also pair your practice in a different way, such as an before you have to leave for your shift or an hour after your shift. You know your schedule best, so think about where you can carve out time. You can break it up throughout the day, but try to get at least 30 minutes in!


When you want to dive into a new hobby, start small. When you decide that you are going to learn a new skill, don’t immediately spend a lot of money on new equipment or tools. Think of all the people who pay for gym memberships in January and barely use it the rest of the year – it’s a waste of money! You need to decide if this activity is something that’s worth it, because you might discover after a few weeks that you actually hate playing the guitar, baking, etc. Some clubs or groups will offer free or discounted lessons to first-time guests, so look around for something like that to gauge your actual interest. There are also lots of free and cheap apps that can be good places to start. If you find that you do like the activity, investigate other ways to minimize your investments. Can you get friends to join you and split costs with them? This can look like anything from carpooling to sharing equipment. You can also see if your library offers any supplies for your new hobby. There are also organizations that offer “libraries” of tools and equipment. If the activity is still too expensive, think about alternatives. What are you really looking to get out of learning a new skill? Let’s say you want to learn how to sail. Is it the activity of sailing that attracts you, or is it simply being out on the water? If the latter is a strong motivator for you, try to look for cheaper water-based activities and save sailing for a later date when you can afford it. No matter what solution you come up to alleviate costs, you should also be budgeting for it. What do you normally do with your free time right now? Can the money you’re putting towards that activity be repurposed towards this new skill you’re trying to learn? If you want to really learn this new skill you have to prioritize it financially, but do your best to keep your financial investments small!

People often turn to apps for a free or cheap way to approach a new hobby. However, maybe you want to learn how to speak French, but those apps just aren’t working for you. That’s where online courses come in handy. They can be more in-depth than an app, and are often structured in a more traditional classroom style. You’ve probably heard of some of these sites, but a few might be new. Check out the following sites below for topics of all kind! You’ve probably heard of some of these sites, but a few might be new. Also, none of these are affiliated with Transcend Academy; we’ve just heard good things and wanted to share them with you!


EdX is a result of a partnership between Harvard University and MIT, with the goal of bringing high-quality education courses online to the masses. Currently EdX has expanded to include over 130 global partners including well-known American universities, such as UC Berkley and Columbia University, and international universities, such as Imperial College London and Peking University.

Most of the courses are free, with an optional paid certificate. The topics are generally academic in nature, from science and programming to foreign languages and business. These courses are great for someone hoping to expand their general knowledge, or for people looking to build their credentials in the workplace!

Some interesting courses include Introduction to Marketing from the University of British Columbia, Mandarin Essentials from Mandarin X,  The Divine Comedy: Dante’s Journey to Freedom from Georgetown University, and Statistics and R from Harvard University.

Khan Academy

Khan Academy is a famous learning tool for students, teachers, and parents alike. Its founder, Salman Khan, created this nonprofit with the goal of empowering learners outside the classroom. There are dozens of courses, mostly aimed at K-12 students with topics like AP World History, Arithmetic, and Biology. However, you will also find topics for an older crowd, like MCAT prep and personal finance. There are also courses for everyone, like computer animation and computer programming!

All the courses are free to use! Most of these courses are also available in over 20 languages, in everything from Spanish to Bengali. The usual course set-up involves watching videos explaining a concept, then taking a brief quiz or doing an activity. After that, you move onto the next concept, and slowly learn an entire unit.

Some cool courses include computer animation (featuring a Pixar partnership!), statistics & probability, and personal finance.  


Coursera was founded by two Stanford professors in 2012 to provide universal access to online courses from numerous universities and organizations. You can get certificates and even degrees through their classes, which are generally videos with a smattering of assignments. Topics include Arts and Humanities, Personal Development, Computer Science, and more.

If you want your assignments graded, or to receive feedback, that usually requires paying a course fee. However, a large portion of the courses are free to audit, and gaining a certificate can cost under $50 for a number of programs. Furthermore, you can apply for financial aid for some courses if you really want that personal feedback but don’t have the money.

Some fun courses include Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies from Princeton University, Guitar for Beginners from Berklee College of Music, and Greek and Roman Mythology from the University of Pennsylvania!  


If you regularly watch YouTube videos, you might have heard of Skillshare - they sponsor a profusion of different YouTube channels. Skillshare is an online, video-based learning community. People post educational videos about almost any topic, and you follow along while completing a project that uses these skills. Currently there are over 22,000 classes available through this platform, which was founded in 2010.

Some of the courses at Skillshare are free, but you can pay for a premium account to access more courses. There are often deals to get premium membership at steep discounts; at this time, you can get a 3-month membership for $0.99! Usually, it costs about $15 a month, or $8.25 a month if you buy a year’s membership.

Some interesting courses include Knife Skills: A Mini Class to Chop Like a Chef, Fundamentals of DSLR Photography, and Calligraphy Essentials: From First Script to Final Flourish.  

Code Academy

Code Academy is a site specifically for learning different coding languages, covering web development, data science, and programming and computer science. You can learn 12 different languages at your own pace, using videos and linked activities. Code Academy was founded in 2011, and has several notable partnerships, such as the White House!

All the courses are free, with an optional paid service for more personalized content and advice.

Class Central

Class Central is a major search engine all sorts of free online classes and MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). If you want to compare free Python programming classes from different sites with each other, this is place to check out! Class Central is free to use, and you can find all sorts of different courses here. A lot of the sites we mentioned above will show up on Class Central!  



Newton’s law of inertia – an object in motion tends to stay in motion – has more applications than just the classroom. Once you start an activity, it’s easier to maintain momentum with time. That’s why simply getting started is one of the most difficult aspects of learning a new skill. If you’ve encountered one of the barriers above, hopefully our advice will allow you to overcome it. Good luck everyone! You can do it!

Are you or your student unsure about where to start preparing for the SAT, ACT, or TOEFL? Are you wavering on doing the FAFSA because it feels overwhelming? Transcend Academy is here to help you overcome those obstacles. Just send us a message, and we will help you get the ball rolling towards success.

What new skill are you trying to learn this year? Let us know!  

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