Look Back, Look Forward: Part 2 – Degrees of change

Do you remember how you felt when you started your degree?  Feels like ages ago.  Feels like yesterday.

How much do you think you’ve changed over the years?

My life went all over the place on a regular basis.  Every few weeks, it felt like I wasn’t the same person any more.  Over the course of three years, it was almost not worth looking for a comparison any more.

photo by jessica flavin

photo by jessica flavin

What a difference a degree makes

In the last post, I looked at the end of your time at uni.  Your view of the future then probably looks totally different to how you perceived it at the beginning.

Some of us start a degree with a clear idea of what the future looks like.  Changes take place along the way, but you have a purpose and you’re full of hope, so you try not to stray from that path.

On the other hand, some of us don’t have a clue about next month, let alone several years’ time.

Whatever the case, you won’t feel the same now as you did then.  Looking back helps you to look forward.  Personal changes are easier to spot.  You may have a different life attitude, your likes and dislikes may have changed dramatically, or your career ambitions may have a taken a new direction.  I’m sure you look back at some of your actions and think, “Was that *really* me back then?”

Don’t look back?

Your life is forever being shaped by past experiences.  You learn from the past, you live in the present, and you plan for the future.

Other than your degree, you have a wealth of other considerations and achievements:

  • New friends;
  • New, eye-opening experiences;
  • Extra-curricular achievements;
  • Advanced study skills;
  • A raft of transferable skills;
  • And much more…

You may hear people tell you to never look back, but understanding your past holds great value.  Everything you do transfers to the past the very moment you’ve done it.  When looking back, it’s important not to stick with the past or try to live in the past.  When aspects of your life come to an end, you have to be prepared to take the next steps, even if they are closely related to that previous chapter in your life.

I’m passionate about higher education, but I’m not trying to recreate my previous student experience.  I lived with Freshers in my final year at uni, but that wasn’t to live a lie that I was back in the first year of uni.  Still, it was good fun… 🙂

The point is, I want reasons for what I do.  The reasons don’t have to make sense to anyone else, so long as they make sense to me.

Identify your future from your past

It’s time to put everything together and see the best of your past selves in your current self. Picking all the positive vibes helps you stand strong in your coming decisions.  And as a (soon to be) graduate, these future decisions need to be strong!

  • Think of when you felt you achieved something special.  How did you get to that moment?  What were your strong points?  Can you recreate them now?  What would you do in the future to step the game up a notch?
  • Consider times you wish you’d spent more wisely.  They may not be regrets, but situations that could have been used more productively and actions that could have been handled more reliably.  Armed with what you know now, what would you have done differently and how will you be ready for similar issues in the future?
  • Take into account all the positions you took up while at uni.  Make a list of all the clubs and societies you were a part of, including what you managed within them.  Be proud of every little thing you got to be a part of and don’t be shy to explain how it’s helped shape the life you lead today.
  • Look at the elements in your life that have stayed the same over the years.  What has held strong through the good times and the bad?  Are you happy they are the same?  If not, what are you going to do RIGHT NOW to remedy the situation?  You’ve highlighted the negativity, so now is the time to take positive action and remove it.

The curtain falls, but get ready for the next act…

Your focus, once it’s been on the past, should have its sights set on the future.  You haven’t reached the end of an era, it’s just the interval.

Curtain goes back up any minute…