The Powers of Reflection

Congratulations! You have successfully made it to your second semester here at Ohio State. And now that syllabus week is over, the work begins.

I had a rough first semester at OSU. I didn’t have many friends, I didn’t want to admit to my parents that I was having a hard time, and I didn’t do well in classes. I ended up skipping classes to watch Netflix and sleep in and rarely left my residence hall. I ate a ton, did no homework and didn’t study and I ended up coming home for winter break 20 pounds heavier with a terrible GPA. Luckily, I had wonderful parents who, although disappointed, did their best to help me move forward instead of dwelling on the past. We spent a lot of time that winter break trying to figure out what went wrong and how to help me get back on track; and through that experience I learned how amazingly powerful reflection could be. I went into my second semester with a new outlook and ended it with a 3.5 semester GPA.

You have all more or less successfully completed a full semester at OSU and believe it or not you are now a veteran! You now have a pretty good idea of the in’s and out’s of college so why not put some of that knowledge to use? You will do so much better this semester if you take the time and space to reflect on what went right and what went wrong.

I have a little reflection activity (it takes about 30 minutes) that I want to share with you. I’ve started, weekly, going out by myself to eat or putting on some background music and lighting a candle in my room and just thinking. Below I’ve written out a way that you can engage in a similar activity that helps with mindfulness and goal-setting.

Reflection Activity:

Think back to the first days on the Ohio State campus: moving into the dorm rooms, meeting new faces, your parents moving your stuff into your dorm room. Remember how your room looked when you first stepped in. And how it looked when you were done with it. Remember saying goodbye to your parents, and spending the night with your new friends and roommates.

Fast forward through Welcome Week: all of the activities, the whirlwind of people, the cheers, the crowds, getting used to campus.

Now it’s the first days of classes: remember rushing to find your first class, pulling out the Maps app on your phone to find Arps Hall. Remember returning to your room at the end of the day exhausted but satisfied because at least you now know where your classes are.

Keep going fast-forwarding through your semester, letting your mind snag on the important parts, dwell on them a little before moving on. Try writing some of those moments down to remember them. Remember the good things and the bad things. Continue until you finally get to winter break. Imagine all of the things that went right last semester. What did you do well? When was your first success? How can you keep that up this semester? Write this stuff down.

What went wrong? What did you improve? What could you have done better in? What do you need to change? What can you do to improve? Write. It. Down.

Now look and think about everything you just wrote and thought about. What goals do you have for this semester that could hit on those points you just wrote down? Write those down and put them on your phone or hang them in your room.

Those are your goals for this semester.

New Year’s Resolutions for a Healthy, Successful Second Semester

It’s that time of year again! The start of a new semester, a fresh slate, and a Twitter feed full of #NewYearNewMe posts. Everyone wants to make positive changes for the new year, but sometimes following through can be a little tricky, especially for busy, broke college students. I’m here to offer you five easy resolutions that can make your academic, professional, and personal life that much better in 2015!

Dedicate time to go the RPAC a few times a week (and not just for the food at Courtside Cafe).

As Ohio State students, we are blessed to have such a beautiful facility at our disposal. Take advantage of the many resources it houses such as group fitness classes, personal training, and wellness coaching! When you’re done, you can treat yourself to the sauna, the hot tub, or even a massage!

New-Years-Resolution-Memes-Cats

Drop the “college kid” diet.

Yes, we know. Ramen Noodles are good. They don’t really do much for you, though. Give your body the fuel it deserves with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and protein. Also, take a couple minutes and visit the University Dining website to see what’s in the foods YOU are buying at the dining halls. Need help making healthy food choices? The Student Wellness Center in the RPAC can help you design a plan that’s tailored to your body’s specific needs! Lastly, when grabbing last minute items to “fill” a block, try those Good Greens Bars instead of chips or cookies!

tumblr_m39o2eHUAS1qmlsa5o1_500

Keep yourself, and your space, organized!

Sharing a space with one, two, or three other people can be hard. Sharing a messy and cluttered space is ten times harder. Do yourself (and your roommates) a favor by clearing out any junk that may have accumulated from last semester. This means the fridge, any common areas, desks, and closet space. I know you’re sick of accidentally grabbing your roommate’s socks instead of your own, or smelling that General Tso’s Chicken that’s been on the top shelf since October. Do you find yourself forgetting important deadlines or losing class notes? Invest in one (or more) of the following!

image

Start preparing for midterm exams NOW!

I know it’s hard to even acknowledge the existence of midterms after just finishing up “Syllabus Week”, but after last semester we all know that they have a way of sneaking up on us. Start organizing your notes now by keeping them in a safe and easy-access spot, like a binder or computer file, so that they will be easier to find and study from later. Also, start study guides of important tidbits your professors say in class (listen for “this will be on the exam”, or “this would make a good exam question”).

e878f24ef15529c2ec9564195b086d9f

Branch out and meet new Buckeyes!

College isn’t just about passing classes and getting a degree. Make time to meet new people and get involved on campus! Little things like keeping your door open when you’re in your room or suggesting you and some floor mates go on a “dinner date” to Sloopy’s can make a difference in your semester! Take the leap and start a conversation with the person next to you in class. They might be involved in a club or organization you might be interested in!

tumblr_mkr1l06Lbs1s6k0r8o1_500

Things I would say to my 18-year-old self

I have a confession to make.

I wasn’t always this cool!

RevengeoftheNerds

Okay, maybe I lied…I’m still not cool, but there is one thing that I can say definitively: I have grown up a heck of a lot faster than I ever thought I would.

Yes, we have all heard that cliché statement that college is the best years of our lives and that you will become who you were always meant to be here, and until recently I can honestly say I didn’t agree. I am not trying to be that melodramatic guy who says that the light has finally shown on me and now I’m this great person, but as I near my date of graduation there is this sort of reflection period, a sense that has sort of come over me. How have I changed? What have I changed? What could I have done differently?

Oh dear, why is this image of my eighteen year old self coming to mind?! Me, getting ready to graduate high school, aspiring to be someone different, the excitement of the unknown!

But what if there was a way to go back in time and say something to your younger self? What would you say and how would you say it? It’s hard to just pick one thing, one piece of advice that encompasses everything these past four years have taught me and then…aha! (light shining from the heavens moment)…I got it…TAKE RISKS! Taking a risk might seem easy but it’s truly not, it is something that I had to struggle with day in and day out these past four years.

I changed my major and transferred to Ohio State. I met new people and tried new things. All of that involved me taking risks! So here it is. I sit myself down, tell myself to listen, and say it one more time (because I tend to be a little distracted and forgetful every now and then):

I have gone through more than I could ever have imagined in the past four years. You may or may not follow my same path. You may be a lot smarter than me and do things I never could, but there is one thing that you have to promise me: day in and day out I want you to take risks! Because only when you take a risk and push yourself out of your comfort zone will you be able to grow as a person!

I understand this whole thing is mostly about my advice for my younger self but it does carry weight for others. Whether you take more risks or commit to a different goal, take a good look at yourself and see what you have done recently and focus on that, because only then will you be able to see the type of person you have become!