Do yourself and the coming year a favor. Think back. Cut the crap.
There are exactly two categories of things worth doing:
- Those that advance your professional career
- Those that enrich your personal relationships
All other things, unfortunately, fall under:
Big fat wastes of time.
Preparing for a year that blows away all others begins with being able to pinpoint these differences. Last week we posted about how to translate the year’s experiences. As students, everyone will have takeaways to consider.
This week, the exercise is to identify the opposite and remove as many non-productive activities as possible. After all, moving forward means knowing what *doesn’t* move you forward and not allowing such road blocks to stand in the way of growth.
Many college students, we’re sure, juggle a bajillion things on any given day or week in a semester. Friends are necessary, parents are inescapable and internships provide edge. Some of your free time and extracurriculars, however, may offer nothing in terms of return on investment. Once you identify what those are, eliminating them from your life should follow.
To give honest examples, last year I volunteered for a non-profit through Catchafire, studied a foreign language and learned some code. All of these were supposed career boosters, yet in one way or another are about to undergo change.
For instance, I realized how much I missed volunteering from my undergrad days. After finishing Catchafire project deliverables, I continued to volunteer and chose to assist with NY Creative Interns. That first post-grad volunteer experience with Cathafire sort of relit the fire for me.
With regards to practicing a foreign language, a friend helped me locate classes more within budget. In New York especially, saving and budgeting helps.
As far as what didn’t make the cut for 2012? Instruction in computer programming. Sorry, devs. I did OK with Intro to HTML and CSS. Soon after I got a foolish notion to learn programming for Android, which I signed up for and ended up not completing that month. This was through no fault of the teachers, though. They were kind and made extra efforts to help and accommodate me.
Cut the Crap
In my case, loving code was a lie. What sounded like a good idea on paper or in my head did not pan out in real life. An incomplete course neither advanced my career, nor enriched my relationships. It only left me with $80 less in my bank account.
Perhaps you’re like me and tried many things yourself last year. If so, there’s a decent chance at least one of those experiences was a semi or total fail. Although it may not be immediately apparent, auditing your free time and thinking back may lead you to re-evalutating as I did.
Each year can and should be better than the rest. Make it happen by perfecting what’s working well and abandoning projects that aren’t quite working. This could mean finding a way to make it work, like I did with volunteer efforts and learning another language. Or it could mean admitting once and for all that something is not for you and coming to grips with that reality. I now confess to you and the world, I am an Android programming fail.
Use Time Wisely
For many of us, time is the most precious asset we have. In planning for the year ahead, don’t waste it by investing in activities that don’t get you where you want to be or didn’t add any value last year. New commitments should be justified by at least one of the two categories “worth doing,” super-simplified they are: career and relationships. By the way, exercise and health-related activities could very easily qualify for both.
Now that we’ve played Bad Cop in this post, What activities will you be staying away from this year?