By: Ahad Kasamali
If life were predictable, there would be no excitement. I’ve often had to remind myself of this because plans seem to go awry more often than not. This made me adopt the “it is what it is” mentality, which has been a blessing and a curse. If things didn’t go according to plan, I was content because it allowed me to adapt, but I rarely explored past the surface to find the “why” behind it all.
I found my personal growth stagnating and slowly regressing. This led to a number of missed academic and extra-curricular opportunities, and I was unsure about where I was headed.
I knew I had to do something, but I wasn’t sure what, so I decided to check out some of the Student Success Centre’s resources. I wish I had done this sooner. With help from the Academic Skills Prep Series and one-on-one coaching with upper-year students, I crafted a personal development plan. This plan genuinely helped my ability to handle the pressures and obstacles of being a working university student so I could build better habits.
The way I planned my days was the starting point of my plan. I used to do everything digitally (with help from reminders on my phone or calendar alerts, for example), but this made me feel overwhelmed more than anything. As part of my plan, I decided to write down my tasks on a notepad, which helped me with time management and had a positive effect on the structure of my days. Plus, crossing things off your list is extremely satisfying! You feel a warm sensation washing over you, and you feel motivated to do more. In addition, I started to set small deadlines for myself to avoid over-extending my efforts.
My focus and sense of direction improved, and I was able to cultivate more meaningful relationships with my peers. I learned how to pay attention to the things I really needed to focus on. This allowed me to take advantage of opportunities such as actually going to networking events or attending office hours to get feedback or guidance from my professor or TA.
It’s the little wins that make a huge difference.
However, there isn’t a one-plan-fits-all approach that everyone can use — two-and-a-half years into university and a pandemic have only further solidified this notion for me.
I think, when making a plan, it has to be personalized, taking into account your strengths and weaknesses, motivations and goals. For the plan to work, I learned that you have to be proactive, adaptable and consistent with your actions. In my personal life, this meant choosing between staying in or going out, which isn’t always an easy decision. But if you take the time to reflect on what you actually want, you’ll be able to prioritize your time. Plus, the SSC can help with time-management skills and prioritization. Check out my recommended resources at the bottom of this article to learn more about how they can help.
I’ve learned that personal development is essentially a lifelong mission. Throughout the process, you really get to know who you are, what you value the most and what direction you want to take. If you have a growth mindset, you’ll be more cognizant of the decisions you make. Don’t forget, a little bit goes a long way, and there is no time like the present to get started.
I recommend these SSC resources to help you make a personal development plan
It’s never too early to learn about ways to get support. This way, you’ll know how to get help when you need it.
Also, check your inbox on Mondays for weekly updates from the SSC.
Ahad is a third-year and Commerce student at McMaster. He currently works as a program support assistant with the Student Success Centre careers and experience-building team.