Maybe you’ve heard it said before that,
It’s not how you start that matters, but how you finish.
While I believe there to be a lot of truth to this statement, I also believe that how we start something – or anything really – does matter.
Would you ever start a road trip without some idea of where you were going and how you would get there?
How about a haircut? Would you ever sit down in a chair and tell your barber or stylist to “get started” without giving them some pretty specific ideas about what you wanted the finished product to look like?
Of course not! So why would you ever consider taking a lackadaisical or laissez-faire approach to something as important as your formative college years.
These years matter!
And how you start this year matters.
So here are three suggestions I have for starting your new academic year well.
1. Establish Priorities
Start by identifying what you want this year to be about. What is going to make this year a great year for you? These are the big ideas or items that need to fit into your cart. Your priorities might include things like:
- Your relationship with God
- Your relationship with others
- Your academic success
- Your health and well-being
- Preparing for your future
2. Set Goals
After you’ve identified two to four priorities that will bring shape to your year ahead, it’s time to get specific. Setting goals is important. Setting SMART goals is critical!
SMART stands for:
By setting SMART goals you will bring your big priorities into focus in ways that are manageable and practical for shaping your everyday living.
Much like your priorities, goals will serve you best when there are only a few of them for you to focus on. When your list of goals becomes too long, it’s far too easy to become overwhelmed by them all, and as a result, you’ll find yourself ineffective at achieving your goals and maintaining your priorities.
3. Be Flexible
Finally, be flexible.
If you want to be successful in the year ahead you will need to establish priorities, set goals, and then remain flexible.
While it is important to have a plan, that plan can begin to work against us if we ever become so rigid that we are unable to flex and adapt to our ever-changing circumstances. One never knows what the weeks and months ahead will hold. There could be something that knocks us for a loop, or causes us to veer far off course.
But, if we’ve taken the time at the beginning of the year to think about what we want, and what will make this year a success, then we’ll have a point – a destination – to re-orient ourselves to.
So, as you begin the adventure that is the new year before you, take some time to think about where you want to end up – and what it might take to get there.