When it comes to success, I feel H.M. Jones is someone I aspire to. She is an amazing woman and mother, and her writing is phenomenal. I was fortunate enough to be her editor for Monochrome when she republished with Feminine Collective. If you haven’t read Monochrome yet, this is a book that needs to be pushed up on your must-read list. H.M. is truly a remarkable person and I am so grateful to call her my friend.
5 Tips for Success I Share with My Students
(That You Might Promptly Ignore and That I Sometimes Don’t Follow)
By H.M. Jones
I teach college courses part-time for a meager living. I work full-time at the same college as an administrator, so I’m often dealing with students who come across difficulties in their lives that conflict with their success as students. In one of the basic skills classes I teach, I emphasize five main points to success in college, but these tips truly carry over into most careers. If you’re struggling or you know a person who is struggling with the juggling act that is life and career management, here are the tips:
1. Be Present:
Easy enough. Anyone can show up to something. FALSE. Some people have more difficult lives than others. They cannot afford childcare, they must attend their job to pay for school, but their job conflicts with school, etc. It is often hard to be present where you should or are supposed to be, whether that be in class, at a job, at a recital, or in front of a computer screen writing a book. The physical act of being at a certain place by a certain time can be very difficult.
I’ve been there. I have been the very poor student with a full-time job to support my schooling. I have been the giantly pregnant Master’s student who waddled in teach Composition, waddled around campus to take her classes and finish her cumulative senior project, who then held office hours, then waddled home to finish her other homework. I have been the breastfeeding mother who had two teaching jobs and was finishing college when not nurturing a newborn.
But you must try to be present almost always. There are emergencies in life that make this hard or not ideal, at times. Barring those emergencies, if you are on time and are physically and mentally on board, you already have a leg up from those who did not move from bed, did not check in. You will stand out to those around you as a professional, a dependable person who takes others seriously. In so doing, you will look more appealing to those in higher up positions.
And you’ll get work done if you show. Whereas, you might just get social media done if you don’t.
2. Be a Communicator:
There is a difference between talking and communicating. Talking is the act of words and sounds leaving your mouth. Talking does not have to have a point nor add anything to a conversation. Communication requires camaraderie in language. It means two or more people are working together with their words to achieve a goal.
If you are having a hard time in life, venting on Facebook about how the world sucks might feel good but it’s not communication. Also, sometimes people you know know the people you’re venting about, etc. etc. Not good. Social vague-booking is akin to gossip and it does not further a common cause. It solves nothing.
Instead, think about communicating with any co-workers, teachers, bosses or friends about issues that have arisen and ask how you can work towards your common goals. In the workplace, if your boss has a particular way she likes things done, but you feel your way is just as efficient, try enunciating your skills and strengths and suggesting that you can come to a compromise.
Yelling is not communication. I shouldn’t have to say this, but I feel like I do. Loud people have been making videos of themselves berating and venting about other people frequently, and yelling at others has become more common in our culture as well. Louder doesn’t mean more correct. Think about how well you listen when someone is yelling at you or talking down to you. Not a great way to make your point known or to find common ground.
Communication requires patience, LISTENING to another person and a common goal. It requires reaching out and not getting caught up in emotions.
3. Be Appreciative:
Again, seems easy enough, but it’s rare that I experience appreciative people. Heck, I forget to appreciate others and their contributions all the time. Appreciate the time your teachers take to put together their class, grade papers, hold office hours, think of demonstrations. Attend to them because you appreciate the work they are putting in, even if you are not 100% interested in every aspect of class.
Appreciate your co-workers when they do something for you that makes your life easier. Thank them for little things they’ve done to lighten your load.
Appreciate yourself and what you have to offer. You have skills that are worth celebrating. Utilize them and be appreciative of your ability to do something interesting, whatever that is.
Being appreciative is sort of like being positive, but not really. I would say I’m a cynical person who really appreciates the people in her life who assist me when I need it. Here’s the kicker: when someone feel appreciated by you, they are more willing to assist you in the future.
4. Be Organized
Use your phone, a calendar, alarms, memory tricks, excel sheets, but make sure you’re organizing your life. When you make sure that you are not overextending your time sheet or planning things when other things are happening, you will take so much stress out of your day-to-day existence.
There are free planning guides available online. Some guides are week-to-week, some are hour-to-hour. Fill out a guide with the things you need to do on a day-to-day basis, add appointments, add important dates for your school/job/writing deadline. Check this guide daily. Utilize technology to your benefit. Learn to set alarms a day before important meetings.
Outline papers, speeches, book ideas before you start them. Things move more swiftly with a plan. This sounds very boring and compartmentalized, but I prefer that to stress. I hate being late and looking unprofessional. I despise being the person who doesn’t use her time wisely or forgets important appointments.
As a mother, full-time worker, part-time teacher and author I am often messing up my schedule because I don’t bother to write out the things I should be doing. Save yourself that kind of stress. It’s the pits. Set deadlines and see them through. You will thank you.
5. Be an “I Can” Person
Too many people quit before they begin out of the fear of failure. They say they can’t make that meeting, write that book, finish that quarter, get that internship, and they are right. If you start with “I can’t” you will never complete what follows those words.
I told myself I couldn’t do a lot of things when I was younger: couldn’t play sports, couldn’t be a doctor or veterinarian, couldn’t make it at that school, couldn’t run a mile, couldn’t lose weight.
I make an effort now to never say I can’t do something. I’ve ran 10 miles. I’ve written just under 10 books. I have a Master’s degree. I’m a bi-polar woman who is a good mother, employee, teacher and friend. I can do so much, and I have so little time to do all I am capable of. So I might choose not to do this or that, but I do not tell myself I can’t if I want something.
I do not set myself up to fail. And if I do fail, I tell myself I CAN try again. I CAN get over failure. I CAN be successful.