Americans always have loved remakes. We have been remaking movies since The Great Train Robbery remake, which came out in 1904, one year after its inspiration. As with many remakes, however, the remake was a complete flop. Some people argue remakes are just a lack of new ideas; others believe they are just a fun new spin on an old story.
The original impetus in creating the first edition of Taking Charge: Your Education, Your Career, Your Life in 2008 was to produce a college success guide that directly linked college success skills to both professional and personal development. That’s especially important with the increasing trend of community and technical college students entering the workforce upon graduation as opposed to immediately moving on to a four-year college. To that end, the writing and research skills of the co-authors, Karen Mitchell Smith and Katharine O’Moore-Klopf, proved to be invaluable through the first two editions of this book.
Since that first edition, however, feedback solicited from instructors around the country combined with advances in digital publishing has resulted in a dramatically revamped third edition to be published in September 2012.
Sleep deprivation. To student and many others, getting the recommend amount of sleep every night is nearly impossible. Life often gets in the way, and as everyone knows, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. If you haven’t done so before, think about what cutting out sleep does to your body.
A few hours later, I came across another comment from yet another young woman: “Is there such a thing as too much excitement for one day?”
Life becomes chaos. As one task is finished, nine more pile up and the thought of never-ending work can lead to less-than-positive thoughts. Organization can help keep you sane. Rather than constantly juggling options, lists and deadlines in your head, write things down and watch as your personal power conquers the most complex of life’s obstacles.
There are many online applications and tools to help become organized. Zen Habits offers some great steps toward developing a better routine and lifestyle, DistanceLearningNet lists plenty of note-taking tools, and JournalingTools will help you master the art of self-reflection. Organization can be as simple as a pen and paper, but with a seemingly endless source of free applications, there is no reason not to get ahead.
The practice of journaling seems underrated, yet it is a powerful tool of self-exploration and evaluation. People feel better after talking to a counselor or psychologist because they get a chance to unleash all the thoughts and feelings they have been struggling to hold inside. Keeping a daily journal is a cheaper option to let out emotions and transfer them to a page. Reflecting on these daily thoughts and occurrences will instill a sense of progress as learning from mistakes and past events brings further development to the individual.
Journaling about things other people can relate to can translate into a blog that is shared with the world. Not only will it boost the awareness of the particular subject matter but may generate revenue as well. There’s nothing like people paying you for imparting thoughts on a subject of your interest.
College classes can be beasts and being prepared to conquer is half the battle. Many people pay halfway attention in the classes they choose to attend and do not bother opening the book until the day before the test. It’s always possible to squeak by in the easier classes but the purpose of college is to prepare students for the professional world, so it would be easier to go ahead and start now. Just like staying healthy, doing well in school requires significant effort and most people know what they must do; it is just a matter of putting the first foot forward and start walking.
It is obvious to read the book before class and take notes on what was read, then attend class and take notes there. Compound all the notes and read them until they are known. Simple in theory, yet going through requires effort. Once these practices become habits, the professional world will be a breeze, and the people that fluffed their way through college will struggle just to stay afloat.
College. The time and place to meet people, socialize, party, find yourself, and discover new ways of thinking. Oh, and there’s that whole class part. Some students devote their time intensely to either one of these endeavors. The tricky part, which few have learned to master, is to balance school with the rest, while still maintaining a healthy and safe lifestyle. A well-balanced lifestyle, which will lead to a happier and more fulfilling life, is not difficult to practice once the proper steps are taken
Taking Charge: Your Education, Your Career, Your Life devotes a chapter to health and safety. The chapter covers all the basics including diet, exercise, sleep, sex, and campus and work safety. Helpful tips on mastering these health practices create a smooth transition into the healthy lifestyle. Quotes from experts drive home the importance of proper health and the long-term benefits of its use.
Most people cannot face the harsh truth about the consequences of ill health. They fill their own heads with justifications about being too busy to prepare a healthy meal or too tired to exercise. It becomes a vicious cycle, constantly growing until it is nearly impossible to pull out of the tailspin. The good news is starting is the hardest part. After you take the initial leap, it’s smooth sailing from then on.
Discipline is hard. If it were easy, everyone would be fit and successful. The few who pull it off are not born special, but they have the determination to master themselves and the discipline to stick to their plan. Most people know what they must do, but they refuse to do it or talk themselves out of it. Sorry to break it to you, but there is no special pill. A good diet, proper exercise, and plenty of sleep are the cornerstones of a healthy individual.
“Health must not be sacrificed for learning. A strong body makes the strong mind.” Thomas Jefferson was onto something. Regular exercise releases endorphins, the body’s feel-good chemical. It reduces stress, increases sleep quality, and makes you feel more powerful. If there was ever a magic bullet, this is it. The problem lies in the fact that it takes work to reap the reward. In that way, exercise is a lot like life. The idea seems difficult and its execution even more so, but once you have started, feelings of power overtake you, pushing you harder, making you work harder, and it goes on. This is a better cycle. This is the cycle of living.
Many people struggle to find the balance between what is easy and what is right. Plenty of online resources exist to give ideas and motivate. ConstantlyHealthy provides all around useful information, Tips on Healthy Living lives up to its name, as does tips4health.net. The Taking Charge book contains heaps of information on bettering yourself, and the “Health and Safety” chapter provides plenty of tips to begin the journey to a healthier, better life.
Time is constant, yet harnessing time for productive and personal use falls on the individual. Everyone has the same amount of time, although the difference between success and failure rests on how time is utilized. It is tough to juggle every event from all aspects of life, remember each one, and complete it promptly. Sudden incidents arise, people can become flustered, and the weight of the world comes crashing down. While it may be tempting to throw in the towel, step back, take a deep breath, do something relaxing for a bit, then dive back in. You never lose unless you quit.
Taking Charge: Your Education, Your Career, Your Life explains the benefits of time management and tips on the most efficient ways of managing time. The key of time management is to map out a daily timeline of tasks to be completed and stick to it. Every night before bed, make a list of things to be accomplished the next day and arrange them in order of importance. When a task is done, cross it off. The sense of accomplishment gained from physically deleting a difficult task will help feed the willpower to move on the next one. This actually helps to free up time because it eliminates all the minutes spent worrying about what needs to be done and actually doing it. Don’t think. Don’t try. Just do.
To effectively manage life, rise above the daily routines and plan for the big picture. In addition to taking care of daily tasks, think about how these responsibilities relate to other areas of life and the future. A monthly calendar provides a broader outlook on your timeline. Knowing you have a test in two weeks helps to create better daily lists to break down the study time in blocks. Cramming the day before will not only give less understanding of the material, but will throw off your routine since you must postpone the day’s tasks until tomorrow.
Because many people work from their computers, plenty of time management tools are available for free download. Now Do This is a simple to-do list application that keeps your most important tasks at the forefront. Evernote is a note-taking application that syncs to mobile devices so wherever you are, you can write and retrieve notes. Toggl tracks time spent working on projects and helps you switch easily between different tasks.
The scenario is the same. Everyone experiences it. You sit staring at a blank word document watching the cursor blink and blink and blink. You think about your task for a moment, and then wander into some far off place. Your eyes dart back to the cursor. Still blinking. “Maybe I’ll go get some coffee,” you tell yourself. When you sit down again, the cursor continues to taunt you. “How about I check my email?” This could go on for hours. The best way to begin is just to start writing. The entire paper doesn’t need to be finished, and you can always revise it later. This works for anything. If the house is a mess, start cleaning one room and chances are the momentum will build enough to complete the entire chore. The more you dwell on the difficulty of a duty, the harder it becomes to start it.
Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter once said, “You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through.” I recently had the privilege of conducting the second interview for the McLennan Community College version of Taking Charge. I met with Fay Gutierrez, MCC Alternative Teacher Certification Program Director, who spoke about the importance of leadership and of having good mentors and role models. Gutierrez believes confidence in oneself is the key to taking initiative and becoming a leader.
“If we cannot now end our differences, at least we can make the world safe for diversity.” John F. Kennedy made this statement more than 40 years ago; yet, the issue of diversity still remains a point of contention in schools and in the workplace today. Learning tolerance and respect for people from different cultures, backgrounds and beliefs is the key to cultivating a productive, harmonious environment. Meeting people from different backgrounds will broaden your worldview and acquaint you with intriguing people along the way.