Starting the Academic Year Right!
The 2021-2022 academic year began a few weeks ago. Many of you are returning to campus full-time for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last spring. Many students, myself included, have gotten accustomed to our schools’ virtual format and the flexibility it has provided. It is a big adjustment switching back to in-person classes and clinic after this past year. In addition, the prevalence of the COVID-19 Delta Variant prevents us from fully experiencing school, work, and other aspects of our lives as we did once before. Given all the changes that this academic year has to offer, it is important to set yourself up for success at the start of the year so you are ready to tackle any obstacles that come up throughout the year. Today, I would like to share some tips on how to start off the academic year right.
Revisit Your Goals
Setting goals for the year can provide a clear vision and direction for what you accomplish in school, clinic, and your personal life. If you have not already identified your goals, I recommend writing them down (or typing them out) in a SMART goal format. By having the goals physically listed in front of you, the goals become more tangible and actionable.
Once you have listed your goals, set a time each month to revisit them. So much can happen in your life over the course of a month, especially with all the historic events that have occurred over the past year. By revisiting these goals, you can see if you are on track to accomplishing them or if you need to modify the goals to be more attainable.
Create a Flexible Mindset
Life can be unpredictable. Even with a set schedule every week, you might find a lot of events that arise that you had not planned for. Did your class schedule change at the last minute? Did you have to unexpectedly see a patient at the end of the day and stay late? Did a deadline for a project sneak up on you? Each of these scenarios requires you to adapt to the situation in an instant.
More situations like these will continue to pop up as you complete your degree. I challenge you to view each change as a learning opportunity. While your immediate reaction might be shock or frustration, take a deep breath and remember the skills that you possess that will help you through the situation.
Take Time for Self-Care
Self-care is essential for combating stress and preventing burnout. You can do this by participating in healthy habits and finding ways to cope with daily stressors. Self-care takes many forms: physical exercise, healthy eating, practicing mindfulness, or connecting with your peers. The list goes on and on.
The biggest tip I can give you is to be kind to yourself! It’s okay to make mistakes sometimes. Graduate school is all about learning and developing your own flow. Both of those will require some trial and error. Be sure to celebrate your successes and give yourself credit where credit is due.
I’m looking forward to another year of graduate school, and I hope you are too! Keep these tips in mind as you tackle the 2021-2022 academic year.
Access Leadership Resources
Communication, time management, and vulnerability are all important to becoming a leader. Find three infographics and discussion questions on these topics via the SAA Leadership Resources page.
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