As students we’re told a lot of things that we ought to be doing. Here's one thing NOT to be missed!
Here’s the thing: as students, we’re told a lot of things that we ought to be doing. Don’t procrastinate! Study hard! Do your homework! Go to class! Go see your Professor! Get involved! Find a leadership position! Do community service! But the problem is, these admonitions are often offered as unsolicited advice. Few people first ask, what do you want to be doing? If your life goals do not include a PhD from Stanford or another pursuit requiring a perfect 4.0, maybe it is worth it to put off that homework assignment and attend the spontaneous concert in Central Park you just scored tickets to. What?! Did I, an Academic coach, just tell you to procrastinate? YES!***
People often ask me how I do so much in my life and the answer is simple: I enjoy what I do. More than that, I am passionate about it. Not in the cliche way you might have used the word in an interview in order to get a job, but in a jump-up-and-down, wiggle-my-fingers-in-glee sort of way. And because I love what I do, it’s not work. I don’t count down the hours until the end of the day. I immerse myself in my studies, jobs, and friends and get excited about waking up. But people didn’t ask me about these passions or joys before they gave me advice on what major I “should” be in. They didn’t question where I saw my life going before decreeing that studying hard was definitely the key to its success. And they certainly didn’t consider that on some days, a well placed hour of procrastination enriches my life in ways that a 10 point homework never could.
The problem with the absolutes we’ve heard time and again is that humans are unique. None of us has experienced the world in the same way as any other. And because of this, not all of the things that work for others will work for us. We need personalized goals and advice from someone who understands who we are, where we’ve come from, and where we want to go. And more than that, we need to be able to talk to someone who has our best interests in mind, someone who wants us to be happy and fulfilled and successful. This is not an easy person to find.
While our families love us, their opinions are often colored by past experiences or subconscious preferences. Our academic advisors are often swamped, but even if they do care, their ability to get involved in our lives is often limited by their position as a university employee. Friends may also mean well, but they are usually going through many of the same problems we are and share in the confusion and angst that comes with troubling times.
Luckily however, people like that do exist somewhere over the rainbow. And by over the rainbow, I mean throughout the United States and in many other parts of the world. They’re called Life Coaches and if you take a moment to look around the web, you’ll discover that many of the world’s most successful people have them. Life Coaches don’t tell you what to do. They don’t judge you, or think your fears are silly, or tell you to “buck up kiddo.” What they do do is listen, and listen hard. They help you clarify what really and truly makes you happy in life. And then they help you reach that place. Maybe it only takes a few minor steps. Then again, maybe it will take a drastic change of course. Whatever the remedy, a Life Coach is there to help.
Sometimes people get weirded out by the term life coach though. They think it has some bad connotation, as if you’re in therapy because you are degenerate. But if wanting to be a better person is a crime, then the first people you need to convict are athletes everywhere. What happens when an athlete has talent? They get a personal coach! And this coach is focused on their needs. They spend their time thinking about how to make their player a better athlete and how to get them from where they are to where they want to be.
Now I’m sure if you look hard enough, you might be able to find someone who made it to the Pro’s without a coach helping them along the way. But 99% of the time, all of those success stories who look up to see their names in lights have had not one, not two, but many, many coaches in their lifetime. The same thing goes for singers and songwriters, actresses and artists. When we see potential in them we say, “Hey, have you taken lessons? You really should. You’re great!” So why does that not hold for our intellectual potential and emotional happiness? Why doesn’t anyone look at me and say, “Hey you! Yes you. I see that you can be happy. Really, incredibly happy. I think you can be great at what you do while being happy too. You really should look into that.”? I’m not quite sure. It might be because we’re so used to being stressed out and overworked that nobody has realized that a better way exists, a way where we can enjoy college and growing up while still managing to balance our future goals with our present happiness.
But guess what? I’m here to tell you, yes you, that I do see happiness and contentment in your future. I see balance and success and many moments where your friends look at you in exasperation and ask, “How do you do it?!” And I’m here to tell you that I really think you should look into getting that whole thing jumpstarted.
Christie--NYU Senior 2013
***Note: But not all the time! If you’re like me, the path in life I see myself going down requires a college degree. While you can certainly find success with bad grades, good grades will smooth that path so you have to fight just a little less to get to a place you’ll love.