Advice from a College Dropout

January 16, 2012

No, it isn’t to drop out. It isn’t not to drop out either. That, I believe, varies from person to person.

It’s this: No matter how busy your life is, make time for at least one of your own personal projects or goals, particularly something major.

This goes especially for those of you in college. All throughout the three years I was enrolled in university, I constantly used my school obligations and burdens as an excuse to avoid my own personal projects. I was always too busy or too tired for the big projects I wanted to tackle.

When I quit university last summer, I immediately realized how much I had let myself down. Not only had I neglected or abandoned projects, but I had terrible self-motivational skills. School can teach you how to work on different projects, but it can’t teach you how to work on your own projects, and I quickly found that these are entirely different.

So here are a few quick tips for self motivation that I’ve learned through my few months of being in full control of my destiny:

  • Value your own projects at least as much as outside projects.
    The key to this is balance and separation. Give yourself enough time to accomplish everything for your own projects and outside projects, and assign time spots or specific places for each variety of work. That way you’ll be able to keep outside projects from interfering with your personal projects and visa versa.
  • Respect your own deadlines and commitments.
    Every time you disregard one of your personal expectations, you’re making it easier for yourself to do it again in the future, or even make a habit of it. However, every time you uphold a personal commitment, you’re reinforcing it’s value. This is one of the most challenging areas when the only person expecting you to accomplish something is yourself.
  • Don’t be afraid to stop and reevaluate.
    If your schedule isn’t working out or you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a moment (or several hours, or a whole day even) to straighten things out. Every time you do you’ll learn more about how you work personally and how you can manage yourself–which is really the entire reason all this is so important.

That being said, do note that these guidelines are by no means easy to uphold. Balancing one’s schedule and priorities is hugely difficult, and holding oneself up to one’s deadlines is perhaps even tougher. Even a semester into my experience as a college dropout, I pretty frequently mess up one or the other. However, as things to work toward, I feel that each of these is invaluable.

Best,
Nash the Dropout

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