September is always a month of great beauty and of great energy in the academic world. The start of a new academic calendar every September—as a career academic, I’ve always put more stock in the Sept-June than the Jan-Dec calendar—is a great time for self-assessment and goal setting. If you haven’t sat down yet and made some goals for yourself for the new school year, now would be a great time. 🙂 I just did mine and posted them on the fridge where they can serve as a motivation (or admonishing reminder) of what I want to accomplish for myself in 2014-2015. Research—solid, scholarly research, that is—has shown that if you WRITE DOWN your goals and put them somewhere where you’ll see them, you will have a much greater chance of achieving them. Why not give it a try?
The thing about writing a goals list is it’s highly personal. It’s a list YOU are choosing to write as an expression of the control you’d like to take in your own life. You’re the captain of your ship, you’re the author of your life’s story. Take some time now, at the beginning of the year, to reflect about what you’d like to accomplish FOR YOURSELF in the coming months. You WILL grow a year older this year, whether you set goals and strive to achieve them or not, and you’ll be looking back sooner than you think. What skills do you want to acquire this year? What do you want to learn? What qualities about yourself do you want to nourish, or perhaps change? What service do you want to be in the various social circles—home, friends, school, community—in which you participate? Why not choose the direction in which you’re headed rather than sail around aimlessly or arbitrarily?
If you’re in high school, I’d recommend writing down a list of goals in each of the following areas:
1) Academic Goals. What do YOU want to learn this year in and/or out of school? What topics are worth your time and energy to explore? What grades in which subjects do you want to shoot for? See our previous post, Developing an Academic Passion.
2) Athletic and/or Health & Fitness Goals. What sports do you want to get better at? What stats do you want to accrue? What exercise routine do you want to establish? What diet and nutrition regimen do you want to follow?
3) Activities Goals. Is there a club or other school activity you enjoy being a part of? Set a goal to acquire a leadership position and get active. Do you have hobbies outside of school? They deserve some goal setting, too.
4) Social Goals. Friendships are really important and they’re one of the best things in life (see Aristotle, for example ;-)). Are there kids at school you’ve always had a hunch you’d be great friends with but you just never seem to get the chance to hang out and share interests? You gotta make the time, yo! And the effort to do stuff with people. Friendships, the kind that are valuable, don’t happen by accident during a busy school year. Seek out great people and make time to connect with them.
5) Community Service/Volunteering Goals. There are a small number of activities in life most people would agree they never regret doing. Like reading. Or exercising. Ever hear anyone say, “Darn, I wish I didn’t go for that 3 mile run or waste my time reading an interesting book.” Didn’t think so. Volunteering—freely offering your time—to a cause at school or outside school would be on that short list, too. Never mind your graduation requirement or looking good on your college apps; do it because it feels good, feels right.
6) Having Fun Goals. A good friend of mine, Gena Rotas, likes to say, if you’re not having fun, you’re not doing it right. You only get this one life to live, this one life to ENJOY. It’s okay to plan your fun time and well as your working time. Set some whimsical goals for yourself to go to a new amusement park, try karaoke singing, learn to salsa—you get the idea. Hey, it’s your list and you know what’s fun for YOU.
Setting goals like these, a list BY and FOR YOU, will certainly stand you in good stead as you play the college admissions game, but more importantly, it will best position you to get the most out of this coming year, which is the one the lies immediately before you. It’s a win-win proposition 🙂
Remember how fast time flies. No matter how hard/grueling/impossible you may think your year is going to be, it’s going to go by FAST. Think how fast August went by, for example. Anyone else besides me not get the memo that August is over and it’s already a full week into September? Before you know it, it’s going to be June and you’ll be looking back on another academic year.
Will you look back with regret or with pride and satisfaction? You get to choose. And you get to choose NOW.
We’re here to help in any way we can 🙂