To all Jersey Alliance blog readers, happy new semester! For most Higher Ed professionals and graduate students, January marks not only the start of a new year, but the beginning of a fresh semester on campus. This is a great time to regroup, refocus, and make some New Year’s resolutions as they relate to our work in Student Affairs.
I often find that one of the best ways to stick to a goal, is to make it public. For me, putting it in writing and telling others about a resolution adds a certain sense of accountability, so what better platform to broadcast some resolutions than through the blogosphere? For anyone else out there who may be thinking of setting new goals as we get ready to kick off the spring semester, here are 14 professional goals that I’ve set for myself in 2014.
- Reconnect with a mentor. Higher Ed is a great field for people with wanderlust. We earn degrees from undergraduate and then graduate programs; we embark on that first “real” job, and we might work on various campuses throughout our Higher Ed careers. Remember the former colleagues and mentors who contributed to your professional development, and keep in touch.
- Actually “do lunch” with a colleague. How many times do you come in contact with that great colleague who works across campus and say, “We’ve got to get together over lunch sometime”? I say this in earnest, but too often don’t have the follow-through to make it happen. Not only can “doing lunch” be a nice chance to socialize, but it can also be a networking opportunity and a morale-booster for both parties.
- Take a break for lunch. Between projects, class preparation, and meetings with students/committees/task forces, it’s all-too-easy to have (or even skip) lunch at our desks. Yet, making time to leave the office for lunch is a necessary form of self-care that can be rejuvenating and put us in a better frame of mind to tackle our afternoon tasks.
- Be mindful of boundaries. We all know the importance of the work-life balance. This might mean setting limits about how often you check your work email from home, or how often you log into Facebook in the office. Establishing parameters will allow you to be fully present both at work and at home.
- Move around. Take the stairs; leave your car in its parking spot and walk across campus; or just stand up at your desk and have a good stretch. Even the least bit of physical activity helps keep the mind alert.
- Read professional literature. Whether it be a scholarly journal, the “Inside Higher Ed” email, or another Higher Ed resource, reading is a great form of professional development that is readily affordable and accessible. (And yes, reading this blog counts!)
- Update that resume. And while you’re at it, keep current with your LinkedIn account. You never know when you might need to have one or the other viewed by a prospective employer.
- Take on a new challenge. Join a committee, offer to spearhead a new project, or maybe even enroll in a class on your campus. Succeeding at new and different things can boost confidence, spark creativity, and contribute to your skill set.
- Listen more. I confess, I am probably a better talker than I am a good listener. Though my colleagues often comment that they think I’m a great listener, I know my listening skills can be improved. When the quality of listening was discussed in the leadership course I taught in the fall semester, one of my students made the observation that the letters in “listen” can be rearranged into “silent.” Good point.
- Gripe less. I usually am pretty good at keeping unfavorable comments in check, yet it is frequently tempting to give into negative chatter. My constant reminder to myself is that while the occasional “venting” may feel, the potential drawbacks definitely outweigh any temporary catharsis.
- Network. Reach out to colleagues across campus, at other institutions, and in fields outside Higher Ed. Everyone knows that it never hurts to be well-connected.
- Stay organized. For me, this means keeping my At-A-Glance planner and my Google calendar in sync. I’m an old fashioned pen-and-paper kind of gal, so my online calendar isn’t always as accurate as my spiral-bound planner. Keeping organized isn’t only useful for me, but it is also helpful to colleagues who are regular users of the Google calendar feature.
- “Try to make someone’s day better.” (I have to give credit where credit is due. My 11 year-old came up with this one as I was having trouble thinking of a 13th item for this list. Don’t you love how the best ideas can be so obvious to kids, and so elusive for grown-ups?) This could mean spending some extra time with a student who needs to talk; offering to help a stressed-out coworker with a task; or keeping a dish of candy (or maybe cough drops at this time of year) available for anyone who might need a pick-me-up. Practice random acts of kindness and the positive vibes could be contagious.
- Practice what you preach. For me, this means following through on all the items on this list. I plan to print this blog and refer back to it throughout the spring semester. (Feel free to check in with me at some later point and see how I’m doing with my list. There’s that public declaration to help keep me accountable!)
How about you? What resolutions have you set for yourself that will contribute to your work in 2014? Leave a reply and let’s get the new year off to a positive start. I wish you a very Happy New Year and an excellent spring semester!