Being a learner, especially a life-long learner, can be confusing, frustrating, and seemingly endless at times. I know, I’ve been there and I can say from experience, it is all worth it in the end. As a student, I came upon a quote that I still reflect upon today,
“If I quit now, I will soon be back to where I started, and when I started, I was desperately wishing to be where I am now.” ~Unknown
But merely reflecting upon a quote isn’t enough, as I am sure you’re fully aware, so I came up with five concepts that helped me be successful.
1. Remember your Why. Fundamentally the most significant thing you can use to be successful, not only as a student but as you progress through your career as well. Why are you doing what you’re doing? Why are you putting yourself through the agony, the late nights, the pressure to succeed? There was something that started this domino effect, something inside you that drove you to better yourself through education. Remember your why and you will be successful. There will be times when you feel overwhelmed and feel that this is too much.Before you quit, remember why you started.
2. Find a mentor. The second most significant thing you can do to be successful, again transcending the academic arena, is to find a mentor. Mentors are a phenomenal resource. When it comes to instructors, you don’t need to stop at just one. I have multiple mentors that I regularly call upon like an advisory board for life. When I was younger, I was given this piece of advice, and I dismissed it to my detriment. Had I sought out mentors earlier in my career I may have been able to avoid the pitfalls that I encountered. Mentors are there to help you navigate the unknowns based on their experience.
3. Time management is either your best friend or your worst enemy. Another one of those pitfalls that having a mentor could have saved me from some considerable disappointment. EVERYONE in the world has 24 hours in every day, which is 86,400 seconds! No one gets any more or less. It is the people that we see as successful who make the most out of every single second of every single day. The trick is to be flexible in your plan because things happen. Mike Tyson famously said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” Well, life is always throwing punches, the secret is not in the plan itself but the planning that success is found.
4. Be disciplined in your execution. This concept falls on the heels of the last one in that execution is everything. We’ve all heard, “plan your work and work your plan, but as I said earlier, it is not the plan that ensures success it is the execution of planning. General George S. Patton once said, “a good plan violently executed today is better than a perfect plan next week!” I used this logic daily during my time as a student because unless those around you have gone through what you’re going through, they don’t understand what it takes. I also liked to reflect on an old Dr. Seuss quote, “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
5. Remember to have fun! This is more of a grounding tenant than anything else. There’s going to be stress; there’s going to be difficulties, there’s going to be disappointments; it’s all a part of learning. Think back to when you were younger, very young, and were learning to do something for the first time. Whether it was riding a bike, walking, swimming, or any other myriad things you had to learn as a child; you were always having fun, even with the disappointments of falling. Don’t be too hard on yourself; life will do that for you. Have fun with the knowledge that what you’re doing is making a better you. Like the caterpillar coming out of its chrysalis and entering the world as a butterfly so too will you be able to fly, but you have to endure the difficulties. And if you have to face the difficulties you might as well have fun in the process.