College and university courses often focus on teaching specific curriculums that do not offer much topic flexibility. It’s important to learn about accounting, history, language and other scholarly topics, but sometimes it’s just as important to take a step back to learn about people’s failures, successes and personal experiences.
While interning with GAAP Dynamics, I have realized that the life lessons and pieces of advice I have received from friends, family, professors and work colleagues can be more important and applicable in the business world than some of the actual course material I have studied in school.
These pieces of advice have not only helped me enjoy my college experience, but they have also guided me toward an internship and academic success. They continue to motivate me throughout the workday, make me an overall happier person and will continue to guide me down my future career path. I hope these five pieces of advice I have learned in the real world will do the same for you:
1. Do something every day that makes you happy.
This piece of advice is number one for a reason. Just doing one simple enjoyable activity each day — whether it’s taking a walk, playing a musical instrument or hanging out with friends — can help improve your well-being, attitude and outlook on life. Find your passion, find what makes you happy and do one of those things every day.
2. Invest in your relationships.
The enjoyment and comfort friendship can provide, however, makes the investment worthwhile.” – Mayo Clinic Staff
Many studies show that those who surround you strongly influence your decisions and the way you live your life. According to a Mayo Clinic study about adult health, having good friends can boost health and self-confidence, and reduce levels of stress.
Whether it’s employees, coworkers, family, friends or loved ones, it’s important to enjoy the time you spend with them. At work, I have found lunch breaks very enjoyable because they give me time to get to know my colleagues on a personal level. These personal relationships help build character, teamwork and group support — all of which help a company toward success.
From a student’s perspective, I often look at my marginal studying time. I have learned that it is more important for me to spend a little extra time with my friends and family than it is studying the extra 15 minutes at the end of a long study session. By no means am I saying studying is not important; I’m saying it’s important to know your boundaries and how time management best works for you. Remember, none of these tips were learned from a school textbook. They were developed through personal experiences.
3. Listen and pay attention.
When professors, coworkers or friends go off on a tangent that seems unrelated to a course topic or job, many people tend to tune things out. Don’t! By listening, you can almost always learn something new. Listen to see if you can apply something they say to your life. A coworker’s advice can help you manage a project or avoid any obstacles he/she has encountered before you.
In my opinion, it’s the life lessons and the passionate stories that I remember and learn from the most. When professors give advice, the real world application creates connections between the theories and topics learned in class. After all, some of the most helpful pieces of advice I have received from professors (with my own personal twist) are included in this list! It’s important to invest in your personal relationships and listen to the people around you.
4. Take breaks and recharge.
I’ve seen students sit down at the library and stare at a textbook for hours at a time. Heck, I’ve been the one sitting next to them and have fallen victim to the long, consecutive hours of studying. At a previous job, I would work seven straight hours at the computer. It’s miserable. Whether it’s dividing up a long problem set (taking a five minute break for every few completed problems, for example) or taking a weekend vacation to relax, it is necessary to clear the mind and forget about the real world.
Breaks recharge your batteries, helping you to stay focused and retain more information. I’ve noticed that whenever I take scheduled study breaks at school, I develop a positive attitude and maintain a higher level of efficiency when I return to my work. I’ve learned how important these breaks are in the real world — I have seen it from both sides and the difference is quite noticeable.
5. Get enough sleep.
I’m sure you’ve all heard this one before, but the right amount of sleep is different for every individual (usually between 7 – 8 hours). Find your sweet spot. I find myself much happier and more productive after a good night’s rest. Even if you don’t get enough sleep at night, the National Sleep Foundation states that just a short nap that lasts 20 – 30 minutes can improve mood, alertness and performance.
If you’ve read through my entire list, you can see how all of these tips intertwine. Living a happier, healthier lifestyle can stem from one of these changes, but the improvements amplify when they are all combined. Determine which areas you can improve upon the most and start from there!