The end of the semester comes at us like the down track on a rollercoaster. We’ve climbed and persisted up the track and hit some peaks this fall. As we gleefully enjoyed a winter break, it went by so quickly. Before we can fully catch a breath we’re ascending another climb into spring opening. As my first blog for this calendar year, I wanted to take a moment to encourage some rest and reflection as we look into 2023.
Perhaps you are excited to continue in your role with a foundation of added experience from this past year and have big plans for how you’ll improve things. Maybe you’re graduating this spring or summer and nervously anticipating a job search. Whatever season you’re in on your career path, it’s important to check in with yourself. I have found myself at a bit of a crossroads in my own career; not sure what I want to do next and even what opportunities might exist. In turning to some mentors and trusted voices of clarity, I wanted to share some reflection questions that I have found both helpful and challenging.
- What am I particularly good at, and have I honed that skill intentionally or out of a survivalist reaction?
- I’m certainly not the only housing professional who has gotten really good at COVID-19 protocols and medical housing operations. And yet, this is not a skill set that I intentionally set out to obtain. Because we place so much of our career paths on “what am I good at?” when considering what to apply for, that doesn’t always coincide with what we want to be doing. While both are good to reflect on, be sure you’re being honest with yourself about which you want to drive your career planning.
- Am I committed to achieving [INSERT GOAL/DEGREE HERE] for myself, or due to expectations of others and/or the field?
- As a first generation student, it has been a lifelong goal to have a PhD. I am now at the ABD phase, and my motivation is waning. My partner asked me, “Do you really want a PhD or do you think you need to have one to have ‘made it’ academically?” Well that made me really think through things, so I wanted to share that gem with readers across the field – is this still what I want?
- When I find myself envious of others’ careers/lives/etc., what exactly am I yearning for?
- We all have those friends in the non-higher education fields making more money, with varying work schedules, and who aren’t on-call. We lament about how they appear to have it so good. Additionally, you may have thought, “What if I did follow my bachelor’s degree path?” I have found it helpful to identify what it is that I want and if it’s possible or not in my current job or a future job. Meanwhile, while X may be nice, I’m still motivated and content with Y. That’s okay too.
- Giving myself grace to adjust, what is a realistic goal for me to pursue this year?
- The SMART Goal theory still applies! Knowing the time, opportunities, and effort needed to achieve a goal is key to reaching it.
- Did I have more highlights or clouds this year?
- It is human nature to focus on the lows – they hit differently and can create deeper-felt core memories. We can learn from mistakes, or how to avoid it in the future. However, it is equally important to remember and bask in those wins and highs of your year, too. Don’t you want more good feelings, too? Reflecting on what you accomplished and what went right this year also helps identify what makes you proud, what you’re good at, and what you want.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list of all the reflective questions out there – it doesn’t even scratch the surface. But I have found a few to be a little non-traditional and that has helped me to start thinking differently about where I am and where I want to go. I hope that this has provided even a little bit of thought provoking reflection for you as you pass into a new year.