For the past five years, I have had the incredible honor to serve on the Recreation Team at a magnificent Christian camp for 4th-7th graders for a week each summer. The anticipation building up to that week is ridiculous- I’ve described it on Parakaleo before. We can hardly contain ourselves for the month beforehand, so crossing the bridge onto the camp grounds is a big deal. We culminate all of our excitement and preparedness into a tradition: blasting “Eye of the Tiger” from the car stereo and singing along at the top of our lungs as we roll up that much-loved group of little cabins in the woods.
After all of that, it’s nearly inevitable that we jump out of the car, radiating a general message of “LET’S DO THIS!!!!!”
Being on rec team isn’t easy. It’s physically, spiritually, and sometimes emotionally demanding. But somehow I’m rarely too tired to lug one more bin of water balloons to the truck and onto the field.
Fast forward to January. Most of us have been on break, lazing about, or maybe taking on a winter job. Either way, we’ve been away from the stresses and demands of a full semester. Even though I’ve sort of stayed in an academic groove with my winter class and occasionally working, this has been no match for the crazy we have either already encountered or are soon about to experience. A few hours of class, not even on every day of the week, aren’t quite the same as Anatomy and Phys 2 (oh yeah- there’s a second part, and my syllabus warns that it’s no walk in the park like Anat and Phys 1… which I considered more of a swift jog up a jagged mountain…) and the other challenging classes I’m signed up for.
With this in mind, I’ve decided to make a list of ways to get motivated for a successful semester! We might not get Rec Team Excited, but it’s probably not healthy to be constantly bouncing off of the walls anyway.
1.) Set your heart on God. More than I’m a student, I’m a Christian. A failure of mine in the past has been setting my heart on grades, which is such an empty and frail thing to dedicate your time to. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.” (Matthew 6:33a)
2.) Know what you want from your classes. What are some reasonable things that you want to get out of your classes? I think going to school should be about more than getting a degree- we can learn from each individual experience. I’m really excited for my new lab/class- by the end of this semester, I want to have a better idea if the research topic I’ll be focusing on is what I want to do in grad school, and possibly afterwards.
3.) Challenge yourself a little… I’ll be honest, early morning activities aren’t really my thing. Sadly, one of my hardest classes is offered only at 8:00 a.m. Motivation starts to dwindle pretty quickly. So my challenge for this semester is to arrive at my 8:00 a.m. class on time, if not early, every day that I have it. There. It’s out. Now my early bird mother isn’t going to let me forget it. This may be a good thing- external motivation isn’t as effective as internal motivation, but it helps! Let someone else know about your challenge.
4.) …BUT don’t overextend yourself. Anyone who knows me probably has a deeply furrowed brow right now. Thank you, girl who is taking some ridiculous number of credits, working in multiple labs and elsewhere, and staying involved with a campus ministry, for telling me not to overextend myself. I’m talking to myself, here, too- this is another tough spot for me. I definitely understand that sometimes, you just have a lot to do. So what I’ll emphasize here is the importance of rest. Leave a Sabbath to just take a step back, refocus, and rejuvenate. And don’t be afraid to say no to some things!
5.) Stay in touch. One of the other big semester mistakes that I’ve made is isolating myself. Community is a huge part of the church, and it’s so for a reason! Friends can encourage us when times are hard, make sure we’re having fun and not overstressing, and generally just be there when you need them. We’re not made to do this alone.
6.) Make the MOST of your time. “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” Ephesians 5:15-17
Are you ready, college students? LET’S DO THIS!!! Anticipate a checkup in a month or so. =P
p.s. Even if you’re not a student, these things still apply! Every tomorrow is a new endeavor, so feel free to try them out!