By Jill Fellow
Student Mentor, Teachers College
At WGU, each student is assigned a personal faculty member to work with them as a mentor throughout their time at WGU. Additionally, each course has its own course mentors, subject-matter experts who are available to help students get through course material. Advice from your mentors is invaluable as you make your way through your online degree program. But we also want you to benefit from the wisdom of mentors not necessarily assigned to you, so occasionally, The Night Owl features advice from WGU mentors in colleges throughout the university.
Be honest with yourself. What activities and events take up your time? Do you love them or dread them?
Does it turn out that you actually LOVE taking your kids to and from their soccer games? How about house hunting? How about gardening? How about having every relative come to visit in the same month each summer? Deep down do you actually LOVE these crazy responsibilities?
Here is the thing: Many students get on the phone with a caring Student Mentor and start explaining or maybe even complaining that they won’t be able to get this paper done because they HAVE to do something next weekend. They HAVE to drive Johnny all around town to get a costume for the school play! They HAVE to go from place to place looking for the perfect new apartment, and it is going to take ALL week.
So, here is my tip. When something is going to take up your entire week or weekend, I want you to ask yourself, “Am I doing this because I HAVE to or because I am SO excited?” You might be surprised by your honest answer. In many cultures, it is considered more endearing to act stressed and busy than to act really excited. We tend to use the word “busy” even if our day is filled with beautiful things that we are thrilled about. It’s just this little lie we tell ourselves to stay cool. It’s harmless, right?
But, wait, is it harmless? The language we use can really affect how we feel about life, responsibilities, and our daily to-do list. How we talk about what is next on our calendar can sometimes confuse our brains, and we can forget that we scheduled those activities because we love what they add to our lives.
So, two things.
First, give credit where credit is due. If you love doing something, scream it from the rooftops. Be honest. Our lives receive a beautiful energy when we are doing the things we love. Don’t hide the love and lose that awesome energy. For example, if the thing you love is actually schoolwork, don’t send hints to friends and family that you want them to save you from tonight’s homework with frozen yogurt. Be honest with yourself about what you like doing and how important your goals are to you. If you love spending your time driving your kids around, tell people you love it, and thank your kids for the chance to be with them. If you love to study, be selfish, and take the time to do it. Embrace what you love no matter what anybody says about it.
Second—and this is how it really applies to your success at WGU and your journey toward that cap and gown—once you have admitted to the things you LOVE having in your life, EARN those things! Don’t let them take over your life until you EARN them.
Two weeks before Thanksgiving I had students already telling me they cannot do this or that because they will be prepping for Thanksgiving dinner or a family party or a big event for the holiday. After one student talked for 10 minutes about how busy she will be, I stopped her and said, “Be honest. Are you, in reality, super-excited about this party and all the preparations involved?” She laughed, and said, “Yes. Actually, I really am!” I said, “Ok, great, then let’s stop pretending that this horrible thing is just happening to you out of the blue!” We both laughed, and then—together—we created an attack plan.
She agreed to EARN time to plan her family party—to earn time to do this thing she loves. So, she is planning to work on school assignments for two hours first thing in the morning in order to earn the entire afternoon and evening to prep and party.
If you love it, earn it. (If you hate it, do it quickly and get back to Taskstream.)
I wish you joy this season and time for all the things you LOVE … including graduation.