November 20, 2018

Wasting Your Time is Wasting Your Life - Focus! © Cici Mattiuzzi

Procrastinating is an affliction shared by a lot of people. The energy required to achieve one’s life goals is something that not everyone has. Making a change from one level of career acquisition to the next is daunting. For individuals nearing graduation from college, graduate school or a professional degree means that you are in a crucial time for your educational and career acquisition.

Getting a job means starting the process of looking for work 8 to 10 months before graduation. There are a lot of tasks stretching out before you: defining who you are and what you want out of life; getting a professional level resume written; researching and developing a list of companies you really want to work for; writing cover letters; filling out ridiculously long applications; maybe taking exams for government jobs; assembling your transcripts… You are already behind aren’t you?

Huge goals require sustained focus and action. Think of yourself as an athlete in the home stretch. It took drive, discipline and determination to get to where you are. As a person blessed to get all the way to a BS, BA, BSN, MS, MBA, JD, or PhD program that you are now finishing - you cannot waste time. Your time is your life.

It may seem like you have unlimited time to actualize your goals and dreams but there is a pull date just like on a carton of milk… the expiration date.

It is my observation that if people do not actualize before the end of their degree or within 6 months of graduation it gets much harder to achieve. Why? First there is a letdown after graduation. Your entire life has been spent getting the degree… Now what? People get lost and unfocused. And because the employer’s question is always going to be “Why didn’t you get a job when you graduated?" In the back of their mind is "What is wrong with you?” "You went all the way to this degree and you haven’t figured out what you want to do?”

There are people running circles around you right now… The ones who have focus… You labor under a liability of competition from the people who are focused and have ambition and are aggressively approaching potential employers of graduating candidates. If you are graduating in Spring of 2019 you need to understand that jobs get filled long before graduation. Recruiters hit the top schools, professional conferences, and job fairs - to hire top candidates and they rehire their interns. (That is the point of internships - to scout the candidates and hire the best.)

Focus on what is urgent and important right now. All of the other things in your life will fall together. If you are nurturing a love relationship… Put it on hold and focus! The most important person in your life will want you to get to your best place and will wait and will join you there. If not, that is telling. Patience is going to be important in your relationship. I have worked with people who compromised at the final stage and regretted it later. That is not good for a relationship. It is hard to weather the storms that come up in life if there are unrealized dreams.

Eliminate the distractions. Do not let people put pressure on you right now. You do not need the stress… You need to focus!

Sacrifice is hard but necessary at this point. Saying no does not mean you don’t love your girlfriend/boyfriend or value your friends. It just means that right now you have a window of opportunity to get on track for the rest of your life and it is a not to be missed train. You will look back at your friends in the degree program who sort of never get launched or have to settle for something they didn’t plan and didn’t want... and be glad that you got on point early and with passion.

Your real friends want you to succeed and understand the commitment you have made and the sacrifices you need to continue to make so that you can make a difference with all of the gifts you have been given in life.

Saying no means that you put your mask on first and help the people around you later after things stabilize for you.

Saying no is also great practice for parenthood which will probably be in your cards. Parents still love their children even when they have to say no…

Here are the steps you need to take:

  1. List your most important short term goals. Focus on the next 6 to 8 months.
  2. Prioritize your goals:
    1. goals
    2. goals
    3. goals

    Pick your most important goals - your A goals - A1 A2 A3. Focus on A’s not on C’s. B goals are either A or C. Get rid of the Cs and focus on only A’s….

  3. Create a To Do List and update it weekly as you complete the tasks and add new ones. Goals don’t happen unless you work on tasks and activities that make them happen
    1. List the tasks you need to engage in to make your A1 goal happen;
    2. List the tasks you need to make your A2 goal happen;
    3. List the tasks you need to do to make your A3 goal happen

  4. Schedule your time!
    1. What are the classes and meetings and things you must be at or do to graduate? Put these on your calendar!
    2. Now find your discretionary time and focus on your prime discretionary time to get done what needs to be done to make your A goals happen
    3. Write up a "to do" list and work on it with persistence
    4. Alter your “to do” list as you complete tasks and add tasks or schedule appointments to talk with people in your profession for your info interviews.
    5. Alter your “to do” list with recommendations from the people you meet along the way who give you advice you value
Do not be lulled into a false sense of doing things later because everyone around you is stuck in complacence… Now that you have a plan - work your tail off to make things happen!