Time for Success

I have many goals. They are essential to how I function through my life. Everything I do, plan for, go after, and accomplish is, in one way or another, set in the form of a goal. For some reason, it helps keep my thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and actions all in sync and making sense. I am a list writer. I write my “must do” goals down for the day and I list them in order of importance. From there, I list smaller goals down and work them around the things I have to do according to the time I need to accomplish them, the location of where the goal is to be met, and also their importance.

As I go through my day, I reevaluate what I have achieved and what is yet to be done. I make adjustments when time is getting away from me as well as when I am ahead of schedule. My focus is on the few things that cannot wait. I allow myself the flexibility and acceptance that things happen or I may have miscalculated how long certain tasks take, and some of the less significant goals must be put off until tomorrow or even the following week. Knowing that at the beginning of the day makes it a lot easier to adjust accordingly and I find my days go by rather smoothly—most of the time!

Currently, my main goal is to complete all necessary classes to earn my degree in Psychology from Penn State. I started my educational journey in the summer of 2007, intending to be finished two years, and never having imagined that I would, or that I could go on to achieve not just one, but two Associate degrees and beyond that, begin working on a Bachelor of Arts! The excitement I feel every morning as I begin writing my lists is palpable and my eagerness to achieve my goal grows more intense. I have waited nearly 20 years to come back to school and I am having the time of my life. Learning and the personal growth that results is something I will never grow tired of.

Ultimately, I want to attend Cornell University to earn a PhD in Psychology and prepare to work as a Psychologist in the LGBT community, but that is what I see as the top of the mountain. I had to start at the bottom, like in most cases when trying to accomplish anything in life. My first accomplishment was making the decision to go to school in the first place. Once I did that, I started contacting family and friends who had already completed the goal I was looking to achieve and asked lots of questions, such as: How did you do it? Can I do it too? How do I get started? And as I got answers, I started making lists and setting goals and setting deadlines. I took a friend with me to the school for support and got into a line for admissions and registration and asked more questions.

I have learned that the more information that you have, the easier it is to get things done. I completed my financial aid application, paid my admissions fee, took the placement tests, and registered for my first class. I took only one class that summer, but when fall term came, I knew more of what to do, and made adjustments for moments I was over zealous. Each term gets easier and more routine. I have applied goal setting and time management in all aspects of my education. I am committed to attending every class, have developed study habits that have been successful, so far, and have specific time, late at night when I am at my best, that I spend on homework, including allowing myself to put it away if it becomes so overwhelming that I am no longer retaining the information, and that has proven to save wasted time.

I also take time to speak to my instructors to get additional suggestions and information of things I might consider doing in addition to classes to prepare for my next goal; finding a job in my chosen career. I am constantly thinking ahead and try to keep myself aware of both the here and now as well as preparation for the eventually.  Transition time is when my mind is the busiest. Do I need to call someone and if so are they there now? Have I eaten today? Is there someone I promised a return email to that I could take care of right now? Is it ok if I just sit and breathe and just be grateful for a moment of silence? I want to try to get everything done and deal with all persons that need my attention before I get home, so I can take some time for myself as well as be mentally and emotionally available to my family.

I have been working diligently on managing my time, my choices, my stress, and myself overall, and though I am quite comfortable and confident in my abilities and the execution thereof, I recognize the fact that there is room for improvement in anything. The reality is that there are 24 hours in a day and I may sleep during 8 of them; am I really utilizing the remaining 16 hours? Granted, it’s not necessary to use all of the time I have, but how much am I truly using to reaching my goal and could I do just a little bit more tomorrow than I did today?

One of the things I could learn to do is stop being a perfectionist. I spend so much time fine tuning and trying to make it the very best and if I’m not careful, I find myself thinking “I don’t have time for this! I just need to get it done and worry about the details if there is time.” I have also recognized a few time wasters that are definitely a part of my daily routine. One of which is my cell phone. I don’t talk on my phone much, but stop again and again to reply to texts. I need to find the discipline to turn my phone off when I am doing things that are important and/or I am pressed for time. Also, I am an over-organizer. Though it is helpful to me to reevaluate and adjust my to-do-lists, I have a tendency to overdo it and on occasion, obsess on making everything fit into the time I no longer have.

All in all, managing self and time are learning processes. As we gain more knowledge of what works and what doesn’t, we grow and improve and succeed. And then we become the ones that others come to when they want to know: How did you do it? Can I do it too? How do I get started?

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