Where are you? Do you allow location access? Smart phones regularly pop-up this question in order to supply directions and relevant information to make the best choices available. The power of technology makes this happen in seconds, but it isn’t quite that easy in life.
In order to achieve anything significant in life or higher education, providing direction to the desired destination or goal comes only after identifying where the starting point is. Life is moving so fast for today’s student, the important things like taking the time to plan suffers at the expense of a hundred urgent things of little significance.
A planning problem occurs when self-deception creeps in making up a story that avoids getting to the core of the issue. If I stop smoking, I’ll gain weight (but actually, I get nervous and eat to calm down). I’m not good at names (because I don’t care to remember them). After starting college I’ll pick a major (because that’s hard work to figure it out beforehand).
Eliminating self-deception begins by describing things accurately. The brain works best when problems are clearly defined. Do not confuse this with negative self-talk that only leaves a broken spirit. Refuse to allow the “never good enough” and “who am I to think that… ” negative phrases to sabotage dreams.
An example of this is to think “I’m stupid” as opposed to “I did poorly on one test.” One is an opinion and derogatory while the other is specific and something the brain can work on a plan to make better. Words are powerful, especially self-talk that is continually bouncing around in the mind. Make it honest and positive!
Following is a Where Are You self-assessment with a P-E-R-M-S-F acrostic:
- The P stands for Physical – weight, blood pressure, health, fitness (how many push-ups, sit-ups, etc.), nutrition, etc.
- The E is for Emotional. Use a spreadsheet and list three positive things that were accomplished during the day. Categorize the entire day into one of three emoticons – sad, indifferent, or happy. At the end of the year a total for each emoticon can be calculated. Now how the year progressed emotionally is measured.
- The R is for Relational. Married, parent, single, and in a relationship are the basics, but also include social circles and friends. A closest person category is limited to one or two people. Close might be two to three, good friends may range from three to 12, and Facebook friends don’t count.
- The M represents the Mental or intellectual side of life. Note all formal education, but informal as well. A great book, 7 Kinds of Smart, is a good reference to combat a problematic stereotype in society. A professor is considered smart while the maintenance person is at best labeled less intelligent. The fact is both are smart and necessary for the institution of higher education to function. The maintenance person is smart at fixing things. Both are good at problem solving. The smarts are about specialized intelligence. Everyone is gifted, the challenge is finding, developing, and applying that gift.
- The S refers to Spiritual and is the basis for decision-making. Whether a person professes allegiance to a particular religion or none at all indicates some type of worldview. What brings meaning to life? Is there a purpose to existence? Is humanity the result of intelligent design or a random arrangement of molecules?
- Finally, F signifies Financial and is just a matter of digging up records or paying someone to do it. Identifying how money is earned and where it is spent defines what is important to you.
In summary, complete this self-assessment without getting over analytical. The objective is not to solve life’s problems with this article. Keep answers simple and straight-forward. The important thing is beginning a process of honest self-evaluation. The journey to a better life starts with a decision to take the first step.
Circumstances do not dictate personal response, you do. Diligently assessing where you are before and after the pursuit of higher education shifts thinking accordingly to determine what can be done. Dream big. As Les Brown quotes, “Live full, die empty.”