Is it just me or did January 2012 just sneak up on you? Resolutions abound for every New Year. Whether you plan to run a marathon, lose some weight, or write a book, LIFE in 2012 ought to be exciting. Do not settle for the mundane, and look for ways to excel. So, here are some 2012 LIFE (Learn, Involve, Focus, Expect) lessons for the student and the professor alike!
Learn from 2011 An important step on your journey towards completing a degree—graduate or undergraduate—is to assess the past year. Learn how to scrutinize yourself in a constructive manner. Hopefully, you were taking some notes on your personal journey during 2011! Do not just stop at your thoughts but ask your advisor or mentor to evaluate your performance in 2011.
Evaluate your Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) that will enable you to reach your goals. Maximize your strengths and identify and mitigate weakness in your portfolio. Seek out opportunities that may be available for 2012 for career development. Be careful with threats and distractions that may be present and make sure that they do not derail you. Take responsibility for the things that did not go well and purpose to convert your weaknesses into strengths. Set concrete goals (example: finishing a research paper or presenting your work in a conference). Remember that you need to be proactive in your academic and work life.
Involve yourself now It is a great time to involve yourself in conferences and student activities. There are plenty of opportunities available for students to excel in courses and in research. There are numerous travel scholarship opportunities to begin networking. If you are part of a team, either involve yourself in ongoing activities or start something new for the common good. This will flex your leadership skills. If communication is a weakness, then take courses in public speaking or take classes that require you to get up in front of a class and speak. Remember that your future employer is looking for a team player who can play well across sand boxes!
Focus on the future The sowing and reaping paradigm from my book works well in all situations. Have a vision of what it is that you plan to do after you graduate and then diligently work towards the goal. If you are having difficulty focusing, have a peer, or better yet a mentor, help you through this process. Do not let yourself to be shaped by past failures or successes of 2011. Remember that in academia failures are often stepping stones to great success stories.
Expect great things I believe that you the student have an excellent seed within you called potential. You need to have a positive mind set and expect great things. Otherwise, why bother going through four plus years of higher education? Do not surround yourself with negative people—those fondly called the “glass is half empty” folks! Guard your vision.
Press on towards the goal in front of you!
Sundar A. Christopher
(*Inspired by Rusty Nelson)