By Karen Beckstrom, director, Columbia College of Missouri-Elgin
As we begin a new year, COVID-19 is still very prominent in our lives. The changing reality of the pandemic has made focusing on work and classes difficult for many. All of our students at Columbia College-Elgin work hard to attain a degree, and very few of these journeys are easy. We have students juggling two jobs and school, single parents struggling to find daycare services-all while trying to navigate the day-to-day challenges the COVID has caused. Despite these difficulties, they succeed at reaching their goals.
So what can you do to help yourself be successful?
- Be specific: Visualize your goal as if it is a reality. See yourself walking across the stage at commencement, receiving your diploma with your family standing and cheering.
- Determine what is at stake: Why do you want to accomplish this goal? What is at risk if you don’t? Who will benefit if you are successful? Achieving long-term goals takes planning and effort, so it’s important to choose carefully and make sure those goals match with your values.
- Set a time limit: Determine when and how you plan to realize your goal. When do you want to finish your degree?
- Look ahead: Identify those obstacles that could trip you up and make plans for how to overcome them. When you are prepared for an obstacle, you can overcome it more easily. Remember to stay committed even through the difficulties that come up.
- Focus on the positives: Remove the doubt, worry and uncertainty of being successful. Focus on the excellent test grade or the fact you made it to class in spite of a daycare snafu. Try to learn from the journey, and enjoy the small victories along the way.
- Establish a support group: Surround yourself with individuals who support your efforts, celebrate your achievements with you and pick you up when you struggle. The camaraderie and accountability will help you more than you imagine.
- Review and adjust: Sometimes life gets in the way of your goals and slows your progress. It happens to all of us. Review your goal and make adjustments if necessary. It’s important to be honest with yourself about where you are succeeding, and where you are facing challenges.
- Celebrate: We need more celebrations in our lives. With each small achievement along the way, celebrate!
- Practice self-care: Above all, it’s important to take care of yourself. Set aside time to make sure you’re getting enough sleep and eating healthy. It’s hard to find the time to take breaks during these busy days, but try to set some time aside for yourself and do something you enjoy every day- whether that’s watching a favorite TV show, reading, or meeting up with friends.
And remember, the Elgin staff are here to support you too, so stop in or give us a call when you need help planning your goals.