College: Your First Business

“I have a check for you for $500,000,” I unexpectedly found myself saying to a high school senior recently.  That conversation spooled into a whole new perspective on introducing kids to college — one that I think will truly pay strong dividend$ in a time when every college dollar needs to count.

“To receive this check, your job is to earn a bachelor’s degree with a 3.5 GPA,” I went on to explain.  “Knowing that this check is waiting for you, how would you go about accomplishing this so that you get to claim it?”

Silence.  And then, finally, “I guess I’d work harder.”

“Work harder… hmmmm.  What does that actually mean?” I asked.

“Well, you know, work harder.”

As the conversation went on, it dawned on her that the source of the cool half million would be her own income, if she planned her college education as a business venture.  We talked about how to get the most for her money, where she could save, how to seek out support; we strategized about what classes to take, approaching the act of learning as a “job” responsibility in the business of attending college; and how to zoom in to find a major she’d love that would lead to a career she would also love — one that could make her a good living in today’s world.

We went on to talk about adopting a project management approach to knocking out college courses.

One thing I’ve noticed with genuine alarm is the use of technology by high schools and colleges to keep track of students’ assignments for them.  With no record-keeping on their own part, a couple of clicks let’s them see what’s due.

I think this is a case of the pendulum swinging too far.  Historically, writing down assignments, mapping out and completing them, keeping track of grades and turning things in on time was the responsibility of the student. 

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Ask for what you want!

Ask for what you want!

If you’re wondering why you just don’t seem to get what you want — whether it’s at home with your family, as a student or in your career — it might very well be because you don’t feel you can ask for it. That’s not weakness; it’s socialization. If you understand this, you can begin to change your beliefs about asking — with the result that you’ll feel happier, less depressed, and more satisfied with life, relationships, school and work. Feeling entitled to ask for what you want is not a small thing. This post is intended to help you move in that direction.

I was talking my friend Dr. Meyer, a scientist with a long and successful career (and my professorial consultant for As a child, Dr. Meyer had decided that he was not going to live in poverty, and from the moment of that decision, he actively worked to create the life he wanted for himself. In the process of describing that path to me, he talked about writing a paper when he was nineteen on a certain topic related to DNA. He began to be very interested in a very specific research question. Here’s what then happened:

1. He decided that he wanted to be involved in the research.
2. He asked his instructors who in the United States was doing the research.
3. They told him.
4. He contacted those people and let them know he wanted to work with them.

Ralph glossed over this story because it wasn’t really what he wanted to talk about; he had another point he was trying to make. But I stopped him cold.

“What made you think anyone would care that you wanted to work on this? As a student it never would have occurred to me that anyone would care,” I said, a little incredulous at the perceived audacity of a kid who approaches the big guys in his field and says that he wants in.

“It never occurred to me that they wouldn’t,” he said, looking confused, as though I had asked him to explain something that was self evident.

I explained to him that he had just encapsulated the difference between his upbringing as a boy and mine as a girl.

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Grades Don’t Buy Happiness

Grades Don’t Buy Happiness

Young women hold in their hands literally a world of colorful possibilities, perhaps unprecedented, for exciting, one-of-a-kind lives.

But how many of your friends do you see moving in that direction? How about you? Why do we throw away the opportunity for remarkable lives?

There are lots of reasons to choose to play it safe – to choose to be a zoo assistant instead of an oceanographer, a day care teacher instead of a psychologist, a follower instead of a leader. Part of it is the subtle message, conveyed more to girls than to boys, not to dream too big.

But I find with many women that another huge part of it is that we’re not taught how to take on and walk through tough challenges. Couple that with the clamor for a 4.0, and you’ll witness stretch goals being replaced with sure things.

It used to be that the pressure for grades began at age six. That was the point at which the educational system warped children’s natural curiosity,

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The Best To-Do List Ever!

I don’t think of organization as a task — although it does involve some set-up and maintenance.  I think of it as peace of mind.  Having a hundred little (and big) tasks free-floating around in your mind — and having to keep thinking about them so you don’t forget — is a recipe for anxiety and overwhelm.  It feels like a big, out-of-control swirl.

The great news is it’s sooooo easy to fix!

mycoachfran toolsHere’s my secret weapon:

The Swift To-Do List 7

This little gem does everything you need to keep your life in order.  (And I should say here, I do not have any affiliate arrangement with Dextronet; I’m just a true fan of this product.)

You can do a lot of neat things with this software, but here are the top three functions:

  • Create a series of separate lists — one for each of your classes — and you might also have a list for college or internship applications, your job, shopping — any area of your life that is buzzing with tasks and/or creative ideas.  Add an icon to each list to give it a unique look.
  • You can add tasks to each list, categorize and prioritize them, including adding a due date. (You can also add detailed notes to any task and even upload associated documents.)
  • By clicking on View — All Lists, and then go to the funnel icon on the toolbar and choosing the filters, you can create a list of today’s tasks.  If you only want to see the tasks you’ve marked as highest priority, the software will pull each item from every one of your lists that is so designated and display them on one screen.  You can then sort this short list by due date. Presto! Your day’s work is in front of you.

That last feature is the key to success.  It’s a cinch to add tasks, thoughts and ideas to any one of your lists any time something occurs to you; in fact, I leave my list open on my desktop the whole time I’m working.  But — it’s impossible to focus and get anything done if you’re looking at a list of 100 items.  By prioritizing and adding due dates, you can see in front of you only the tasks that you need to do today — or the ones that are due between now and next Friday — whatever you decide.

So you can save your sanity in two ways.

First, all that stuff that’s buzzing around in your brain threatening to cause a meltdown can be placed on appropriate lists.  Your brain can rest.  One by one, the things you just can’t afford to forget can be released from your brain onto your list.

Second, when you open up your laptop, you’ll see in front of you just exactly what you need to do right now.  You’ll find yourself knocking things out right and left — and when you place that satisfying check beside the completed items, they’ll be archived for you and removed from view.  Read pgs. 251-265 for biology; complete outline for essay for English; get the oil changed on the car; make a call to the members of your joint project group — zip, zip zip.  It’s a great feeling.

Sound good?  There’s a free trial version.  Once you download it, you can switch it from the “Professional” version to “Standard” which is all you’ll need.  There’s even a freebie — the “Lite” version (scroll all the way down and click on the small download link in the bottom right-hand corner), but it lacks the filtering ability that lets you create a single list, pulled from all of your lists, of what you need to do today.  I do think that’s a crucial feature.  So, if you need a tool that allows multiple lists, creates a consolidated list based on tasks you’ve prioritized, and costs nothing, email me at f r a n h e n d r i c k AT m y c o a c h f r a n DOT c o m, and I’ll send you my own version in Excel, called the Next-Up list.

Once you get this system in place, you’ll feel unbeatable, you’ll actually have more free time — and I’m willing to bet you’ll sleep better too!

COMING SOON: Power up your productivity with my e-course on Getting Organized and Getting Stuff Done! I’ll work with you one-on-one to help you create your Success Map and the master list that will take you where you want to go.

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Create a Map to Your Success

How do you get where you’re going?

First you decide where you want to go! Then you find a map that will take you there.

But once you take out the map, you find that there are many ways to get to the same place. There’s the fastest way, the most direct way – and those two are not always the same. There’s the scenic back roads way or the interstate route, not to mention the zigzag path where you stop at all kinds of cool places along the way.

You’ve got hundreds of choices and opportunities open to you this year. Your “destination” might

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You, Mom & Dad: an evolving relationship

mycoachfran toolsNavigating your relationship with your parents as you move into adult independence and responsibility can be hard for you and hard for them.

You can count on five things as you begin to strike out on your own.  If you’re in conflict with your parents, chances are one or more of these factors is in play.

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Still Homesick? Don’t Panic!

Still Homesick?  Don’t Panic!

Being homesick hurts.  Moving away from home means that  everything is strange — from your bed to the food — not to mention the whole dorm thing.  If you’re still slogging through homesickness, you might be having trouble getting up and facing the day.  It’s hard to feel joyful when you feel more like you’re grieving.  But you can feel better, I promise you, and here’s some help.

Actually, the title of this post is a play on words, because homesickness really is a form of panic.  Understanding what it is will help you see how to help yourself through it.

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