"Our greatest investment is our investment in ourselves, so that we can maximize our Love and contribution."
Four years at the The Ohio State University has taught me so many lessons. It was in these years that I realized that college really can be the best time of your life. I also learned that college can also become the peak of your life, and I certainty didn't want that. I learned in psychology that our brains continue strengthening and developing all through adulthood, that our physical and mental peak is supposed to be near our thirties, and that we really are capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for. So with the constant bombardment of people telling me how I should only focus on school, how I should enjoy all of my time in college because I would never get that time back, I realized that many of those people saw college as the best time of their life. For that reason, I not only asked myself how I could make college one of the best times of my life, but also how I could approach college in a way that would lay a foundation for an even better life after school (Isn't that supposed to be the point anyway?). From my experience, I have 5 tips to maximize your college experience while also building an incredible future.
1. Learn to be uncomfortable.
My best friend and I have a little mantra for this: "Do it for the story!" Now, we don't mean to just do anything that would be absolutely crazy and entertaining to tell to someone else, we mean don't be afraid to do something that is scary because it could be one of the best decisions you have ever made. I met so many people in my four years at the University, and I noticed that so many of them were afraid to try new things: this includes everything from trying a new food (my friend was sure that avocados were the devil!) to talking to boy or girl that you like, going to a yoga class or even taking a class that you might not be good at. I believe this has become my best habit, and I picked it up in college. If you are afraid of something, whether it be new experiences, Love, a degree that you really want but fear it will be too difficult, challenge yourself to wade through the uncomfortability and get used to it. Since growth often requires uncertainty, we might as well get used to it!
2. Learn how to be healthy.
No, this is not a vegetarian/vegan pitch, but I must admit I respect the heck out of somebody who can avoid delicious fried chicken and a burger! But, in all seriousness, how can we use college as a time to become healthy when we are surrounded by delicious fast-food joints to eat with our friends, meal plans with delicious, yet terrible for us, fried foods and late night pizza after a night on the town?! The answer, moderation, and I believe health habits is the most important thing we can establish in college. Should we enjoy eating out with our friends and free BDubs at campus events? Of course! But what if we installed just a few healthy habits? First, start eating a healthy breakfast. Research has shown that eating a breakfast comprised of protein and healthy fats (yes, no carbs) leads to better use of our carbohydrates later. So, grab a handful of nuts and a protein shake, or cook up some eggs with avocado on the side. This is a great way to get your day started! Second, eat that burger but get some steamed vegetables on the side instead of fries. Sure, it may not taste as great as those succulent salt pops, but you will be proud of establishing better health habits. And, for an easy way to be healthier, find an exercise routine that you like and make exercise a priority. Go to group classes, play an intramural sport, and/or go to www.bodybuilding.com and find a suitable workout program for your lifestyle! All of these habits will set a nice foundation for a healthy adulthood, looking better, feeling better: all components of a better future.
3. Begin conscious self-development.
If you are in college, you are already taking advantage of a huge opportunity for self-development through education, congrats! If you are in college because you think it is the next step, commit to these tips and it will at least be a worthwhile next step! So, what is conscious self-development? This is where you begin reading, listening too, and following thought-leaders and mentors who will help you grow at a much more personal level. This is where you deeply think about your dreams, your future and who you really want to be and you make a plan to get there! This is where you discover your "WHY," where you face your fears head on, and challenge your brain's normal way of thinking so that you can grow ten-fold as a person. How do you start? Read (See tip 4). I highly suggest subscribing to some of the best self-development coaches in the world today such as Brendon Burchard or Tony Robbins. If you are lacking direction or feel like you could get more out of life than you currently have, I find this to be an incredibly worthwhile endeavor!
4. Learn to READ.
If you have ever sat down to read four chapters of your textbook the night before a test, then this tip is definitely for you! I am guilty just the same, cramming loads of information into my brain before an exam. And the truth is that, for some people, this will actually work. The problem is that it will only work to get you the grade, and it is unlikely that you will really retain the information. The worse part is that you may develop a bad taste for reading; reading no longer becomes fun. So, how are we supposed to train ourselves to read our chapters before class, fit in all of our readings, and then read for fun or for self-development (See tip 3)? I believe the key to committing to our insane reading schedule is to remember two things. First, if we commit to fully reading our chapters, books and articles, we will actually get better at reading, meaning that those chapters that used to take an hour and a half to read may only take 30-40 minutes to read by senior year. Second, we can remember that many of the greatest people on the planet read upwards of at least one to two hours a day. For more on reading and success, check out this article on the "Five-Hour Rule."
5. Learn to Love.
Although some people say that you should stay single in college, that you should focus solely on yourself, I personally disagree. With all of the challenges that accompany college, learning to navigate those challenges with a partner can be immensely rewarding, and it can be an introduction to navigating problems in future relationships. But learning to Love goes far beyond finding the right girl and spending time together. Learning to Love in college means learning to balance your personal growth, your education and caring for another person. This sounds really difficult, mostly because it is. However, the reward is incredible. Learning to Love can give you the confidence that you can make someone else's life brighter, fuller and more exciting. In college, Love means navigating the fears that come with a relationship, including jealousy, insecurity and time apart. However, if you commit yourself to being the best person that you can be for your partner, learn to imagine a future with someone else and many times learn to recover if the relationship doesn't continue forever, you will be much better at Love. To me, this was the most challenging yet most rewarding decision.