Ah, the New Year’s Resolution. It is that time of year when optimism and good intentions reign supreme. Most people try to take stock of what went right and what went wrong over the last year, what dreams went unfilled and what shortcomings need addressing. Usually, your significant other can help you with that last one. Goals are then set and promises made, but actions started are rarely completed.
Most people who study this sort of thing, tell us that the key to successful resolutions is to think small, to develop concrete action steps and to remember to take things out of your life to make room for your new activities. Focus also helps. Don’t have ten new goals. Concentrate on the two or three actions that are going to get you to the goals that matter to you most. If you execute your focused plan, small changes can generate really big results.
If you are an LBS student looking to improve your college experience, here is a list of five simple New Year’s resolutions you can adopt for 2012. If some of these activities are things you don’t do, commit to doing one or two:
1. Ask for Help: College is not for the bashful. The biggest mistake most students make is that they are afraid to ask for help. Everyone needs help from time to time. You (and your family) are investing a lot of time and money in your education. You deserve to get your questions answered. So ask. If you find yourself hesitating, cowboy up: check your shyness at the door, approach someone you think can help you and ask them. If they fail to help you, ask someone else. UNLV is filled with people who are paid to help you. Make them earn their pay. Commit to asking for help at least once a week, after a short while, it will become easy.
2. Engage: Sitting idly by waiting to be “discovered” only works in the movies. If you want people to recognize your greatness, you need to get out and show it to them: not on Facebook or Youtube, but in person. Join a student club and be active at meetings. Run for a leadership position. Become a student ambassador. Speak out in class. Or find Dr. Janet Runge and learn how you can compete in the Governor’s Cup business plan competition. These are just examples. There are lots of ways to engage and enrich your college experience. Pick one and make it happen.
3. Study an hour more a week: Remember the blog post where I mentioned the results from the National Survey of Student Engagement that showed that the average business student studies fourteen hours a week? For the typical student, studying just one more hour per week represents a 7% increase. In the competition for better grades, this is a big difference. If you are serious with this extra time investment, it should payoff big. If someone told you grades don’t matter after you graduate, they lied. No employer you want to work for is looking to hire C- students.
4. Create a deliverable you can show a prospective employer to highlight your talents: Employers want to know what you can do with the knowledge you learned in school. Create a portfolio of relevant examples of your best work that illustrate your skill set. Maybe it is a business plan you did for a course, or an excel spreadsheet that performs a particular analysis, or a video of some creative material you put together for the student organization you lead. Just like actors and models have portfolios you should build one to bring along on interviews that contains a concise sampling of your best work.
5. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone: College is about expanding your horizons and finding out where your passions and talents intersect. Self-discovery requires that you try new things. And you need to do them with people who are not like you. So pick one thing that will get you out of your comfort zone and commit to carrying it out for the whole semester. Maybe it is getting to know a professor you think is doing interesting work, or an international student from a country you would like to know more about. Maybe it is teaming with some engineering students to create and market a new product as part of their senior design competition. Or maybe it is working with Dr. Schibrowsky’s AMA team or Dr. Sullivan’s student investment fund. Doing things that get you out of your comfort zone also shows employers you are adaptable and it may just end up taking your career in an unexpected direction.
After you have figured out which of these activities you are going to do, stop and think about what you are going to do less of in the new year. We are all busy people. To fit in something new, we are going to have to get rid of something. What low value activities can you resolve to reduce or eliminate? Watching T.V.? Sleeping in late? Surfing the net? If you are honest with yourself, these will be pretty evident.
So here is to 2012 and the start of a new semester at LBS. Let’s all resolve to make it the start of something big.