We’re all different. No number of friends, family, development gurus, lifehackers, personal tutors, or anyone else can tell you about YOU. It’s time to believe in yourself, listen to yourself, and let the answers present themselves. Advice is just that. It’s not an instruction or a demand. It’s some assistance that you can shape to further complement your current skills.
You’d think that would be easy, but it doesn’t present itself that way most of the time.
There are several reasons why we prefer to listen to other people:
- It seems more authoritative if the advice comes from someone else;
- When we look for help, we’re automatically putting our own skills and learnings on the back-burner. ‘Looking for help’ doesn’t instantly remind us to look to ourselves for any answers;
- We’re used to being told the answers. Google, encyclopaedias, 24-hour news, teachers, parents, adverts and others all give us the ‘information’, the ‘solutions’, the ‘explanations’ (with varying degrees of success). Generally, we’ll sit back and take it in;
- We’ve then got somebody else to blame if it doesn’t work!
We need to listen to our own ideas sometimes and now more than ever.
Sure, some ideas work well for the vast majority of people, while some require a great deal of personalisation but do work eventually. However, it is for you – and you only – to decide what is truly right and what works better than anything else.
Ask yourself what you want to achieve. Ask what you feel passionate about. Consider what you see for the future. Ponder the questions you haven’t yet answered. Look to what you love in life, whether it’s a concept, a person, a place, a job, or a way of life. Ask yourself what you really want.
When you’re given anything from a snippet of advice to a detailed book of self-help, you need to understand that only you can work out if the techniques are right for you. Of course, some systems need a bit of patience and crafting before they work, so prepare to give a little time if it’s needed. But if it works for you, you will unlock another secret.
A recent post on Make College Better highlights the kind of independent thinking you need to get the most from any advice. To follow anything blindly is somewhat missing the point and cannot properly expand upon your learning and development.
“5 Tips for Becoming a Leader in your Student Organization” is full of good advice to take you that little bit further. Nevertheless, it doesn’t force you to take a particular path. Instead, it gives you ideas that should become choices after you’ve considered the matters carefully. Check the article and then I’ll explain what I mean:
1. Find your passion – The first tip tells you to to be committed, but it doesn’t give you the answer. You, the reader, hold those answers and can take it further once the tip has helped you retrieve the information from your head.
2. Invest yourself fully in one thing, and do it well – Following on from the first tip, this next one is telling you to be careful, be committed, and be passionate. Not exactly specific advice, but crucial in getting the very best.
3. Do it for the right reasons – When you take this to the level of Higher Education as a whole, it’s up to you to see where your passions truly lie:
- Do you want great academic success?
- Are you at university for the social life?
- Do you feel pushed into this uni life and would rather not be here at all?
- Are you here because it’s what everyone else around you happened to be doing?
Attitudes change regularly. If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you’ve got quite an interest in your future at uni, even if it’s only minor at the moment. However you feel, it’s best to do things at such an angle that it’s what you really want.
4. Take on additional responsibilities – The shocking change in working attitude between A-Levels and uni degrees is too much for some people. The way of Higher Education is one in which you do much of your work outside of lectures and seminars. The onus is on you to study a great deal in different ways. It’s up to you to develop by choosing new responsibilities that are important to you.
5. Make friends at the top – I’m going slightly off the point of the Make College Better article, but you’ll see why.
Now we’re pretty good at loving ourselves most of the time. Yet when we seek out advice and assistance on something, we regularly forget to give our own thoughts the time of day. If someone else says a particular technique is right, you’re likely to believe it to the point where you feel a failure when it doesn’t work for you. If it worked for the so-called expert, you clearly must be doing something wrong. Mustn’t you?
Rubbish. If you made friends at the top (i.e. with yourself), you’d quickly realise that some practices don’t gel with you. Time to move on and find a better set of tools for yourself.
As I’ve previously mentioned, Scott H Young has a great post on 50 tricks to study better, faster and with less stress. It’s a great place to start understanding what tools work for you. Get going with these and you’ll begin to hone your own personal life skills in no time.
Uni life is an important time to find your key qualities if you haven’t started on it already. I cannot stress enough just how much you can achieve if you put YOUR mind to it.