My Semester

Going through a rough semester could feel like it will never end. But, when it does, I somehow feel just as unprepared. This seems especially true for me this spring semester, seeing as how it’s my final semester of my academic career.

I have learned a lot about myself throughout this extraordinary period in my life. Some teachers put me through hell, but they all truly cared about me and my education. I was able to accomplish much more than I had ever expected.

As difficult as it is to balance work, school, and social lives during college, I decided to really challenge myself this past semester. I did this by proposing to my fiancee on November 16, 2016, to be married on May 27, this year, and moving into my new apartment on May 2, 2017, (a day before a major final exam, which was administered at 8:00 AM the next morning, and I needed to do well on.) I first began studying for this final exam sometime around midnight that night. Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep; I slept a solid 3 hours before needing to wake up and drive myself to Whitewater to take the exam. I was shocked to later see that my grade on this exam was 100%! Don’t ask me my secret; I have no clue how I managed to receive this perfect score.

This time around, my semester has been, by far, the hardest semester I have ever endured, but I made it through. I couldn’t have done it without my amazing fiancee, my family and friends, and the great faculty and staff and my fellow students at UW-W. And, of course, the local coffee shops in Whitewater (The Sweet Spot), and Janesville (Mocha Moment). Thanks to everyone who was there for me through it all. I wouldn’t change a thing if I could.

How to be a Lifelong Learner

Growing up, my grandpa always told me how he was a lifelong learner. He would tell me stories of things he had learned and of things he was currently learning. He always took an interest in my education, asking me questions about what I was learning and how I enjoyed it. I always thought he was cool (maybe I was a nerd, what are you gonna do about it?)

I remember watching the History Channel with him. I wasn’t like most young boys who were obsessed with sports and the like; I truly enjoyed watching one of the most boring TV channels in history, (see what I did there?), and I was proud of it, and I still am. There’s something really refreshing about learning.

I graduate college this May, but I plan to continue my learning. When my grandpa passed away last May, I decided that my being a lifelong learner would be dedicated to him.

There are many things I plan to do to always be learning. Here are a few of them:

I plan to…

Listen

When people are speaking to me, I will try my best to listen, with undivided attention, to their every word. I know I will fail, but that’s no reason to lower the bar. I will always strive to be better.

I saw a TED video of a man who gave up speaking for 17 years. He learned a lot from actually listening to people, rather than formulating an answer before the other had finished speaking. Which brings me to my next point.

Watch TED videos

I receive notifications when new TED videos are uploaded that are relevant to my interests. This is a very easy way to learn about a lot of different subjects.

Read (a lot)

I know, during college it is very difficult to read anything, besides textbooks, (if one can even manage that). But, reading is a very good way to increase your knowledge and expand your horizons. Good places to start would be physical books, e-books, online articles and journals, and, yes, even the dictionary.

Research

I always think of interesting topics that I’d like to know more about; things that, currently, will take away from my study time. Well, I plan on actually researching these things after graduation…When I have the time.

If I feel extra nerdy, I might even write a research paper, just for fun.

Keep a list of new words

Throughout my last semesters at UW-Whitewater, I have kept a list of new words and their definitions in my notebook. As I enter the professional world, I plan on continuing this practice. Expanding your vocabulary improves communication and reasoning, and can lead to a more successful life.

Attend workshops/take classes

There are all kinds of workshops and classes out there just waiting for you! Why not learn how to reupholster furniture? Or, make jewelry? Or, do yoga? Or, improve your creative writing skills? Your life will be enhanced, I promise.

Visit museums

I absolutely love visiting museums and learning about history. After all, history is our story.

But, maybe history isn’t your cup of tea? Well, you would benefit greatly from making it something you love. You can research ways to make it fun and interesting, I’m sure there are lots of ways!

Watch live performances

Whether you go to an opera, ballet, symphony, musical, play, local open mic, etc., you will have an experience unlike any other. Live performances are a great way to experience art, but are sadly dying out. Support local musicians, and the arts in general; attend live shows!

Take it all in, see what you learn along the way!

Please comment below if you are a lifelong learner. Let me know what you do to self-educate.

5 Ways to Make Goal Attainment Easier

Life can be very difficult at times. Sometimes we feel there is nothing that can help our situation, so we give up on trying. I am not an expert on all things motivation, but I have some advice that I hope will encourage anyone who reads it. Here are 5 things you can do to make attaining your goals easier:

  1. Make a List: This one is self-explanatory, but one of the most important things you can do to start organizing your thoughts and focusing your efforts. Write down everything you need to do to accomplish a task in chronological order. This way you can follow along as you check things off your list (which is always satisfying) and look ahead to the next items to complete with your newfound motivation.
  2. Set Goals: Everyone should have a good set of short- and long-term goals for their lives. Just remember an effective goal is a SMART goal. That is, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. For example, instead of saying, “I will write my paper,” a more effective goal would be, “I will write my 5 page essay over the course of the weekend.” The former is too vague and not time-bound, the latter is SMART and more likely to be attained. It is also best to write down your goals.
  3. Take a Breather: Sometimes you just need to walk away and breathe for a few minutes. Once you have cleared your thoughts, you will make better, more sound decisions.
  4. Treat Yourself: Don’t be too hard on yourself if things are not going well. Sometimes you just need to #TreatYourself! This can also motivate you to accomplish your goals by “rewarding” yourself every time you complete one of your major tasks.
  5. Ask for Help: This is a hard one. I think many people shy away from asking others for help because they want to do things on their own; they want to do things their own way. However, it can be very beneficial to hear others’ opinions and receive their advice. Don’t be embarrassed when asking someone for assistance, because they are in your life for this very reason. Be humble and reach out! We are all here to live life together and help each other out when we can.

I hope this helped you to at least get things started to attain your goals.

What are some things you do to make goal attainment easier? What would you add to the list above? Let me know in the comments!