College is a fantastic four years. It’s a time during which the floodgates of stimuli are overloaded with new knowledge, new relationships, and new… sensory experiences. One of the best parts about college is the fact that you can easily reboot your schedule every 6 months when a new semester begins. As my college years progressed, I found myself becoming quite dependent on this bi-annual restart to infuse change and variation into my life (not unlike a TV show addict dependent on that sweet, sweet fix of a new season).
When I started working full time, I found that it was quite challenging to adapt to the non-dynamic nature of “civilian” life. I went to work at my engineering role, where I continued to learn, but the lessons were not quite as dynamic as those I had received in college. I wanted adventure. I craved more knowledge. And I wanted to do these things during the week. But where was a lost little lad like myself to find such a course curriculum for the real world? There was no planet earth course registrar within close reach.
Fortunately, I soon discovered that there were plenty of opportunities to continue my informal education. It just required some poking around the internet, talking to some randos, and taking some risks. However, unlike college, no one was there to force me to do these things but myself, and that was probably the biggest change. Thus, I found that I needed to develop some direction when planning these things out. Through trial and error, I created a system for doing this. A powerful, complex (yet strangely simple) system that I’m going to share with you lucky readers today.
It’s called the Two Step, Three Step Road MapTM .
2 Step, 3 Step Road Map Part 1TM:
Create a structure for the types of activities in which you’d like to partake.
When you choose a major in college, there are specific courses that you must take to meet certain requirements of the degree. For instance, my electrical engineering course requirements included design components, specialization components, and base math/science components.
Try to develop a life curriculum in a similar manner by choosing three areas that you want to focus your efforts and time. Here are the three areas that I always try to populate in my own ‘course requirements:’
- Mind/Body Health
I think of this category as something that directly relates to improving the mind and/or body. Join a new workout studio and set a goal of going a certain number of times per week. Set a goal to meditate daily for x number of minutes.
My primary pursuits in this field have been: yoga (I’ve been practicing at a local studio about three times per week for almost a year now) and meditation (I practice for 20 minutes every day using the Headspace app).
- Community Involvement
I believe that it’s important to stay involved in your community. Whether it’s painting houses, handing out food to those in need, or volunteering at events, giving back to the community can be a rewarding and constructive way to spend your time.
Personally, I enjoy mentoring students. I’ve been fortunate enough to find a middle school mentoring program called Lunch Buddies where I meet weekly with the same middle school student. We hang out for thirty minutes and basically just talk about life. It’s been quite rewarding, and I’d encourage you guys to see if there are similar programs in your areas. (Local Boys and Girls Club Chapters often have these types of programs).
- New Skill
This can be any type of skill. Painting, programming, learning a new instrument, or even learning a new sport. Basically anything that forces your brain to go outside of its comfort zone.
My main pursuits last year in this category were the skills of Improvisational Comedy and public speaking (I am an active member in a local Toastmasters club that meets once a week).
2 Step, 3 Step Road Map Part 2TM:
Be strategic about the activities you choose and organize your schedule for success.
- Figure out what time you have that is consistently free; map out a course schedule
Activities that will really help you grow are usually recurring and, as such, require a consistent slot in your schedule. So, step 1 is to sit down and map out which hours you can feasibly fill in. If it’s not that many, don’t worry! Focus on what you have that IS available.
Follow steps 2 and 3 below and then start to fill in your schedule with new, fun and constructive activities. I keep track of my life on a giant, white-erase calendar board. It’s simple and effective.
- Pick activities that have a concrete deadline or goal
Pick an activity that has a start and a finish OR that have a set frequency of occurrence. That way you know you’re on track and you can have some sense of accomplishment when you complete it.
- Create your own motivation
Know the reasons behind the activities you choose. Figure out what’s motivating you and keep that in the back of your mind. For me, (and I realize this sounds trite), I want to become the best version of myself possible, and I want to be a positive influence to as many people around me as I can. Stick by your customized “vision statement” and remember it whenever you start to doubt yourself or lose motivation.
Adding this variety of activities to my schedule has added a layer of depth and richness to my life that has greatly increased my happiness. I highly recommend it.
So what are you waiting for? Get on the internet, talk to others who are involved, and find out what fits in your schedule. What are the course requirements you want in your own life? If anyone has any similar experiences, I’d love to hear about them. Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bonus Extra Free Tips— Some starter ideas with which to populate your life curriculum:
-Enroll in a course at codeacademy.com
-Volunteer at your local Boys and Girls club
-Build a house with your local Habitat for Humanity Chapter
-Enroll in a college course at coursera.org
-Take an improv comedy class at your local comedy theatre
-Improve your public speaking at your local Toastmasters chapter
-Join a Crossfit gym or yoga studio and set a goal of going 3x per week
-Learn how to cook; set a goal of cooking a new dish 1x per week
-Take golf lessons, set a goal of going to the range or course 1x per week to practice