Advice / Leadership / Op-Ed / Career & Work / Reflection

Maintaining a Healthy Balance: Words To Live By (From a University Student)

I was reading from the HBR Blog this morning and came across this article, which I thought went well with this blog post. It talks about having a “Happiness Advantage.” Have a read: Positive Intelligence.

This post is about what I found worked well during my academic years in undergrad. This post is not about the last 4.5 years of my undergraduate academic journey. I still need to find a way to cohesively share my story with you. (If only I could do interpretive dance… I kid!)

Packaging your story so that it is short and sweet, nowadays, is important. Who has time to read 2000 word reflections? Well, my loyal readers (aka. My best of friends) have been reading my 500-1000 word posts for some time, so I hope they teach you something. It helps keep me sane and highlights certain events in my life that I want to remember.

Something I’ve learned in the last 4 years is the importance of maintaining balance. Ever since I was in high school, friends would tell me to “smell the roses.” Those words never had very much meaning to me until the latter years of university. My teenage adolescent perspective was: “I am! Everything I do makes me happy.” Later on, I found out (the hard way) that having time to yourself didn’t mean doing work that wasn’t school work, and that all my extracurricular activities were time commitments that actually took away from “Tammy Time.” You might think this is funny, but I also learned that “You aren’t being spontaneous when you plan to be spontaneous!”

There were many people I reached out to and I had to make many difficult decisions. I learned to “cut out the clutter,” focus on myself, and have tangible mechanisms/structures in place to move my personal and professional life forward. Let me tell you this: this process is ongoing, and through our experiences and reflections, we learned about what works and what doesn’t work. As individuals, we are dynamic, so we CHANGE. Lifelong learning, right?

I better hold back before I actually start reflecting on my undergrad journey. So what works? Here’s a list of things I suggest. (Warning: It is a very random and mixed up list. I encourage you to create your own, as you start seeing what works best FOR YOU. Many of these are my personal philosophies I live by. If you like them, check out my feed on Twitter. Enjoy!)

Personal Life:

  • Balance is key
  • Diversify your interests
  • Walk with God and have faith in Him
  • Read and read some more
  • Connect with friends (If you’ve lost touch with someone, send them a quick message. It would be worse not to try at all.)
  • Always be yourself
  • Never lose confidence. Remember that passion & persistence always prevails.
  • Build a support network
  • Have mentors
  • Don’t be afraid to help someone (Your time is valuable, but if you’re keeping tabs on every second of your life, you’re just paranoid!)
  • It’s ok to say “NO”
  • Go have fun. Sometimes you can let yourself do “nothing.” It’s OK.
  • Any time is a good time to change
  • Journaling is a great way to organize your thoughts
  • Manage your emotions
  • Exercising keeps your energy level high (And it’s just refreshing to sweat buckets!)
  • Buddies are an amazing way to make something boring, fun. They are so encouraging.
  • Competition is good. (If that works for you)
  • Know what motivates you
  • Never underestimate yourself. (Set S.M.A.R.T goals)
  • Focus on one thing at a time (If that’s possible. Give it a try!)
  • Make check lists, not just lists.
  • Sticky notes are your best friend
  • Be aware of what other people are saying, but don’t let that affect you
  • Meditate daily or have a list of encouraging words that you remind yourself of daily
  • Create a “Happiness Sticky” and look at it whenever you need motivation or encouragement
  • Don’t spend time worrying about things that are so far into the future. That is a waste of your time.
  • You don’t need to be “cool” or do what “everyone else is doing.”
  • Stay away from cliques, but know they exist.
  • You don’t always have to do something with someone else.  Be independent.
  • It’s really nice to have people you can call your “best friends.” Embrace this. Any relationship should be a two-way relationship.
  • Tell your mother you love her!
  • “Thank” you requires little effort and goes a long way

Academics

  • Do not multi-task in class (Unless REALLY necessary)
  • Engage in class discussions
  • Talk to the prof after class if you have any immediate questions
  • Find ways to apply classroom knowledge to your daily life. (Make it a part of your life.)
  • You won’t always like what you’re taking, but if you “have to “ do it… do it happily. (Often you feel this way because you don’t know how valuable that knowledge will be for you later – so find out!)
  • Know where you study best and what kind of an environment makes you most productive
  • Hiding in a library until it closes is actually fun! (Bring snacks)
  • Drink lots of water
  • Don’t overload on tea or coffee on an empty stomach. Last minute studying can lead to more panic.
  • Spread out your studying and create a study schedule. Re-evalute your schedule after a few days and make changes. (not meeting your goals for each day is only going to pull your confidence down, so make the process dynamic. Remember, your goal at the end of the day is to cover all the material and understand it)
  • Leave time to ask your prof questions after you have reviewed all your notes.
  • Bring as little to school as possible  – just what you need (Know your schedule ahead of time)

This list is in no way complete, but it should give you some insights to think about. What works for you? Feel free to share them in the comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Good luck.

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One thought on “Maintaining a Healthy Balance: Words To Live By (From a University Student)

  1. I make checklists, too. Checklists make you feel so powerful when you’ve finished them! I adhere to a strict schedule of stuff I need to do each day / week. It’s a little Type A, but it ensures I get things done =) Especially when there’s thing I really just don’t want to do =)

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