5 Blank-Slate Beginnings for the Fall 2017 Semester
September 5th, 2017
My teaching semester at the Catholic University Department of Library and Information Science ended last month and I’m not teaching this semester. But I’m taking the opportunity to tap into the blank-slate beginnings of the new semester to revisit/update/revise self-management strategies for teachers and students that I wrote about in 2013 and previously.
These strategies are also applicable beyond the campus, even if you are not teaching or enrolled as a student:
1. Learn about and practice WOOP. This is a simple way to think differently about goal-setting and positive thinking, developed by NYU Psychology professors (and married couple), Gabriele Oettingen and Peter Gollwitzer. WOOP stands for wish, outcome, obstacle, plan. Oettingen wrote an engaging book on the subject, Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation (paperback edition, 2015).
2. Connect with your future self. Two psychologists, Hal Hershfield, currently an associate professor of marketing at UCLA Anderson School of Management, and Kelly McGonigal, a lecturer at Stanford University, have written about what Hershfield calls “future self-continuity.” Among other things, this means that you make decisions that take into account the person you will become years from now, so you do not literally see the future you as a stranger.
3. Maximize your library use. In my recent post “6 Success Strategies of Jorge Luis Borges,” I outlined the crucial role played by libraries in Borges’ life and work. Academic libraries want to be partners in the success of students and teachers, and they usually have many in-person, online and print resources to do so. Check with your academic librarians to learn about what they can do for you.
4. Maintain physical, mental and emotional fitness. There are constant reminders, through gyms and sports activities, about physical fitness. Strategies for effective thinking, inside and outside of the classroom, are also important and necessary. For instance, consider the benefits of well-being, mindfulness and the power of focus; the latter as studied and written about by Daniel Goleman, the psychologist/author who popularized emotional intelligence in the mid-1990s.
5. Take advantage of lectures and seminars beyond your classes. In my self-management tips for the fall semester 7 years ago, I included the following: Stretch beyond your regular subjects by attending at least one public lecture or presentation by a visiting speaker on campus (or at another local school) in another discipline. While that is still valid and recommended, don’t forget that most departments/schools also have visiting lecturers within your own area of study. An example of a robust speakers series is the one at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, where I’ve spoken twice.
These are early days for the new semester. Enthusiasm, excitement and motivation may be high now, but could be tougher and more challenging to maintain over the next several months. Ideally some or all of the above strategies will help you to thrive this fall and beyond.