High school isn’t just preparation for college, and college isn’t just preparation for post-graduate education. Truly, any form of schooling should be preparation for life! Since success starts in daily habits, what choices can you make during your educational career that will translate into success in the future? These six habits are commonly cited as the building blocks of fantastic careers and fulfilling personal achievements.
Time management. Successful people use their time wisely. “Time is money”, as the old saying goes. No, that doesn’t mean you need to over-schedule every minute of your days (you’ll risk burnout that way). But you do need to make a plan for how to use your time to your best advantage, and stick to it.
Setting long- and short-term goals. Most of us understand the idea of a long-term goal. We set it… and then hope we’ll achieve it.
Well, hoping won’t get the job done. In order to reach long-term goals, divide your progress into measurable benchmark goals and focus on those one at at time. So, instead of just saying, “I want to have a fun, high-paying career”, you will also set short-term goals such as:
- Earning high grades during each grading period
- Preparing for the SAT or ACT
- Applying for schools with top programs that interest you
- Completing at least two summer internships or jobs in that field
- Building at least three networking contacts in the field
- Mastering interview skills
- And so on
Participating at 100 percent. Anyone can show up for class. Successful students participate fully, by asking questions, contributing to discussions, and occasionally stopping by their instructor’s office during office hours.
Saying no. Successful people say “yes” to a lot of opportunities, but they also know when to say “no”. Part of smart time management is understanding which pursuits support your goals, and which ones will sidetrack you. Say no to things that aren’t a good use of your time or energy.
Develop leadership skills. Top schools and employers are looking for more than just avid participation in education or extracurricular activities. They’re most impressed by those who take initiative and seek out leadership opportunities.
This doesn’t mean you need to get elected to student council or club positions. It might mean you take the initiative to form a new organization, letter writing campaign, or some other activity that you feel led to pursue.
Find your balance. Burnout is a risk for everyone, no matter how motivated. Avoid focusing on anything to the exclusion of your health, social life, or time outdoors. Take breaks and allow yourself to become a well-rounded person, and you will develop a healthy outlook on life that serves you well in years to come.