Things are rarely as they seem to be, in fact, sometimes they are RADICALLY different! So, when confronted by challenging circumstances, or people, Avoid knee-jerk reactions and snap decisions until you have a better understanding of the situation. When you make a knee-jerk reaction or decision (emergencies excepted) it will almost always have some negative ramifications. Take a few moments to breathe; if necessary disengage or dampen your emotions so you can think. See the video below for more…
This is part of a series of short videos I’ve recorded under the general title: Proverbs for Living a Fulfilling Life. Most are less than 2 minutes in length, although this first one is approximately 4 minutes. My purpose in recording them is to provide some mentoring thoughts for you to reflect upon and, hopefully, contribute to you having a more fulfilling life. This is the first of the series and begins on the foundation of the importance of having life principles.
Great accomplishments and achievements do not come by chance. You must work hard, you must work smart… but whatever the task at hand may be… whether it’s an individual assignment / project, a course, or an entire degree… to achieve great results you must focus, you must commit, and you must ultimately get out of your comfort zone.
Staying the course and staying on track can be difficult with all of life’s distractions, specifically for adult learners. Finding your “why” and remembering your “why”… can help you stay focused on completing your next task, and ultimately getting to the finish line- graduation! Often times, when students become distracted their focus is distorted and they forget their “why” or motivation for earning their degree in the first place. It is when they refocus and revert back to the compelling reason that brought them on this journey, to the point of thinking about how their lives will not change if they do not finish their degree…that they will re-commit and consider doing things differently to achieve their desired results.
Comfort Zones are just that, comfortable. It has been said that “Great things never came from comfort zones”. When people are comfortable and content, they usually do not move out of that position or expand their capabilities. However, when people are out of options, pushed to their limits, and become totally lost in their future plans, often- there is no other choice, but to make a drastic change and try something new and out of the norm. For many adult learners, going back to school and while balancing their life and career is something totally outside of their comfort zone. Carving out personal time, in general for many working parents, can be a challenge in itself… but making changes and improving ones quality of life through higher education is worth the intermediate discomfort. Leaving your comfort zone allows you to look beyond what you think you are capable of and allows you to see how you can do more than you imagined. When you take the risk and leave your comfort zone and just go “all- in” to reach your goals… you will totally succeed! The only thing that is limiting your success, is you!
Philippians 4:13 says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
So, just remember… You can do this! You can finish your degree! Remember your “why” and be ready to get outside your comfort zone. God has given you the will to be successful and with the finish line, just on the horizon, just keep going until you finish!
I have been working in adult education for almost 30 years. I am planning to retire in a few months, so this will be my final blog post. As I think back through the years, I have seen hundreds, maybe thousands, of success stories of adults completing their degrees! However, on the journey to this achievement, many students have faced discouraging times, with multiple reasons including personal, financial, job-related, health, etc.
Based on my past experience, I would like to give you some good advice. If you are having problems and are discouraged, I want to encourage you. Don’t give up! This too shall pass. It may pass “like a kidney stone,” but it will pass! In Galatians 6:9 we read, “At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”
Many people have claimed to be the author of this inspirational poem which speaks to this topic, but the true author is unknown. I hope it will have positive meaning for you. God bless you all.
I will be honest and say my thankfulness comes a bit more readily this time of the year. It is the season to be thankful, after all. There are daily-post challenges on social media, get-togethers with family, and holiday well wishing to make the season bright. I suppose our minds are more focused on it. But, what would our daily lives look like the other 11 months of the year if we recognized all we have to be thankful for a little more often?
In a recent Harvard Health study, positive psychology research reveals “gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships” (“Giving thanks can”, 2017). Wow, that’s reason enough for me!
Now, if I put this into practice what would it look like?
I once heard my Pastor say he had kept a prayer journal and wrote all his concerns, then later, wrote down all the times those prayers were answered. It can become commonplace to forget how present God is in our lives. By writing down the ways we see Him working, we can be reminded and thankful for all He is doing. 1 Chronicles 29:13 (NIV) Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.
Appreciate the Little Things
I can be more intentional to notice and appreciate the little things. This could be as simple as writing down 3-5 things each week I am thankful for. When we are intentional to recognize the little things, the bigger things can seem not-so-big after all. It would be really neat to look back this time next year at all the things I was thankful for each week. If I jotted down just three each week, it would add up quickly! Psalm 7:17 (NIV) I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High.
Verbalize my Gratitude
Telling others how much we appreciate them not only brightens their day, but allows us to recognize how important others are to us. We’re all in this life together, whether we work together, attend class together, or sit next to each other in traffic each day, a little bit of gratitude goes a long way to spreading happiness. Let’s pay it forward! 2 Corinthians 13:11 (NIV) Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.
Giving Thanks Can Make You Happier. (2017). Retrieved November 10, 2017, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier
Earlier this week, I received an urgent message from a student asking me to call her ASAP. A number of concerns came to mind as I pondered what may have been her state of emergency.
As soon as I was able to call the student back, she immediately asked if it was too late to drop her current class. Before I answered, I grew eager to know why she needed to drop her class, especially considering this was her very last class and she was scheduled to graduate in a few weeks. If she dropped this course, it would change her completion date. All I kept pondering was: “What was going on with her?”
When I asked the student what was wrong, she said: “This class is too much and I am tired and need a break.” She recognized that dropping the class would mean she no longer qualified for December’s graduation, but in that moment, she did not care. She wanted and needed to take a break.
Because I once found myself feeling the same way when I was taking classes, my response to her was quite clear. To her I said: “You are burned out. That is what is wrong with you. I know what exhaustion feels and looks like, because almost four years ago, I was in the same position. I was in my very last graduate class and just could not find the strength to see the end through. As your fellow sister in Christ, I cannot and will not let you drop this class. You have come too far to give up now. You will be fine. You WILL finish this class and finish strong. After you are done, then you can take all the time you need.”
This situation reminded me of when my brother ran track in high school. As I watched him run long-distance, I noticed that most of the runners began the race further back than others. This was interesting to me. As the race continued, my brother would move up a little towards the middle lanes. Then as time went by and he realized that he only had a few more laps to run, my brother would suddenly take off and sprint as he took the lead over the other runners. Nervously, I sat in uncertainty wondering if he would win the race or would someone beat him. To my disappointment, as he made his last few laps, my brother seemed to have just lost wind and given up, because before I realized it, the other runners had bypassed him and he eventually gave out, coming in last place. What started out promising ended in conquest.
Oftentimes, we as believers find ourselves right at the end of a race, but then, we quit. God wants us to understand that the Christian race is one that has to be run until the end. Paul, in 1 Corinthians, writes, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it” (1 Corinthians 9:24). This was Paul’s farewell address to the Church at Ephesus and he said, “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy . . . ” (Acts 20:24).
So, just as I attempted to convey to the student the other day, as God’s children, we must keep running the race to win the prize. The iniquity is not in getting tired while running the race; rather, it is in giving up.
*I know you are wondering, so………THE STUDENT DECIDED TO KEEP RUNNING HER RACE AND TO NOT DROP THE CLASS. Praise God!!!!
As a working adult with an extremely busy life, why do you want to complete your college degree? This is a question that our admission professionals ask prospective students. It’s a question that we’ll ask you when you come for your campus tour. A typical response to this question is focused on money as a prime motivator, and that’s okay. We would all be less than honest if we answered any other way. Really, who doesn’t want a promotion, an increase in pay, a new job – all the things that earning an undergraduate or advanced degree may provide? But…
Let’s drill down a bit. What if, in addition to the tangible benefits mentioned, returning to college provided intangible outcomes related to more deeply-seated needs? What if, in addition to fiscal rewards, you found your purpose – your life began to make sense? What if, perhaps for the first time in a long time, you felt like you belonged? These are things that we adults are hungry for and, for adults, these are things that an experience at a Christian college or university can provide.
So, my contention is that the outcome of your college experience may be a more fulfilled life. Psychologist Abraham Maslow proposed that when our needs for food, safety, self-esteem, and even love are met, another level of needs and associated motivators come into play. He called this the need for “self-actualization.” Maslow recognized that once we think we’ve arrived, there’s still a ways to go… that finding satisfaction in the tangibles will still leave us searching for something deeper. What might that “something deeper” be?
As an observer of adult learners (and as an adult learner myself), I feel that a major driver for us to try something as potentially daunting as returning to college is we want to figure out our purpose in life. As a young adult with a master degree from a state university, I still had no real sense of my life’s purpose. It wasn’t until I experienced deep dissatisfaction with the direction of my career in a state government agency that I was prompted to investigate why, as a Christian, I was so unhappy with my work. There was a huge disconnect between my work and my faith, and I couldn’t understand why. About this time, I became a part-time faculty member at a Christian college. It was there I was confronted for the first time with the concept of “Biblical Worldview.” I learned, among so many other things, that my work in a government agency was a calling from God – that one didn’t have to be in “church-related” work to be useful to God. He wanted me in state government. Needless to say, this game-changing insight about my purpose was a result of my connection with a Christian college. I didn’t find it in my six years of education at a state university.
In addition to a desire to find purpose in life, adult learners may consider a return to college because they’re looking to make sense of what appears to be their fragmented worlds – things in their lives that don’t seem related to a larger meaning. Adults want to “connect the dots” so to speak. Why the divorce, the job loss, the illness, the death of a spouse…of a child? Returning to college offers the opportunity for new experiences – for a different platform from which adults can ask questions and even express doubts they otherwise wouldn’t feel comfortable expressing in other settings. Christian colleges do this well. In a secular university setting, there’s nothing outside of our life experiences to which we can connect. In a Christian college, our students find that a loving and purposeful God resides above our disappointments. Meaning is found in our connection with Him.
I’ve noticed that adults seem to find “community” in their return to college, so I offer “a search for belonging” as an additional motivator for returning to college. At Belhaven, community happens through the relationships we build with our adult students. We teach, advise, listen to, and most of all, pray for our students. God has created us to be social creatures, yet we adults struggle to rise above our feelings of aloneness in the world. The answer to what, at times, feels like a solitary existence, is the connectivity we feel in an environment in which others actually care for us. At Belhaven we strive to build communities in which our students feel loved, accepted, and listened to. Relationships are top-of-mind with us.
If you’re an adult thinking about completing your college degree, here’s what I hope your takeaway will be from reading this post. You will benefit greatly from completing your degree. The development of your professional skills that results from your coursework will have a positive impact on your employer. The new job, promotion, or salary increase that may follow earning a college degree will result in measurable benefits for your family, community, and church. However, pursuing these outcomes aren’t the only reasons adults return to college. We want something more, and the benefits of finding one’s purpose, of understanding the “big picture,” and finding a caring community are definitely worth the pursuit.
“I can’t believe they would do that!”
“There is no way that is allowed!”
“I did nothing to deserve!”
“This is completely unfair!”
“I am so miserable!”
I have heard and said all of these things in many different seasons of life. Negativity has a way of drowning people in their sorrows. Studies have shown that constant negativity can aggravate depression within a person. But many of us still choose our negative attitudes. We feel like victims who are imprisoned by circumstance.
But this is not the lifestyle that God wants for us. We need to be living in Joy, Peace, Patience, etc. When we are negative, we steal these Godly gifts from ourselves.
I was reading a book recently and received a timely reminder that we always have the opportunity to choose my attitude. No matter if someone cuts me off on the road, we can choose to pray for the other driver. If the kids won’t do their chores, we can be patient to help them make better choices. If the busyness of work and school are overwhelming, we can choose to work diligently until we are out of time, then leave the work for another day.
Above all, remember: “when we run into problems and trials, we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation” (Romans 5:3-4 NLT).
Where are you going? Do you have a goal in mind? If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you’re in school at Belhaven or are considering starting. If so, then you must have an educational goal. What is it? To finish a degree that you started at some point? To start college for the first time as an adult?
After you determine your goal, the next step is to move forward! Take the step! How fast do you want to go? Are you thinking, “I need to do this in the shortest length of time possible. I need an accelerated program!” Or maybe you’re thinking, “I need to pace myself while taking classes. I have so many responsibilities already!” At Belhaven you have both of those options.
If you are a current Belhaven adult student, you may be thinking, “Yes, I’m in an accelerated program, and I feel the speed! My world is spinning with all the things I have to do. School. Work. Family. Church. Maybe I should slow down or take a break.” If that’s you, we understand. Life can become overwhelming at times. If that’s your situation, please talk to your Student Services staff and get their advice. We want to help you reach your goal. We’re here to serve you.
In the middle of it all, don’t forget your goal! Will a degree help your life? Will it help your family, your children? Keep your end goal in front of you. Keep moving forward. One step at a time. Remember the tortoise. Speed isn’t as important as reaching the finish line!!!
“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.” Phil. 3:13
This verse reminds me about endurance and that hard work eventually pays off. So many times, life throws a curveball and plans to finish a project, a task, or even a college degree, can get put on the “back burner” of the priority list.
Adult students have so many obstacles and so many distractions, during their college experience, it can sometimes be overwhelming… but the key is to stay focused, take one day at a time, and never give up!
As you are encountering distractions in your educational journey that cause you think about quitting or taking a break, here are a few things to consider or remember:
- Remember your WHY! (What prompted you in the very beginning of this journey to pursue finishing your degree??)
- Stay focused on your ultimate end-goal! (How will your life change if you continue to do the same thing, and you do not finish this degree?)
- Consider who may be watching you? (You never know who in your class or in your circle of friends or family may be watching to see how far you go… your choices will not only affect you- but those watching, as well.)
- Who is your support network? (Do you have someone to hold you accountable in this journey- to support and motivate you when times are tough? If not… find that person, today! Offer to be someone else’s accountability partner- so you can motivate each other until the end.)
- Ask for help! (Belhaven Staff and Faculty are your cheerleaders… come see us if you need help, or just want us to pray with you or encourage you, we care about you!)
- Take it one day and one course at a time! (Try not to overwhelm yourself on focusing on ALL of the work, but look at your degree plan, as a marathon… slow, steady, and consistent. You will eventually cross the finish line…so stay on course!)
Changing your life for the better is a good thing… it may not be easy…but if you commit and stay focused, you will finish and you will be blessed! I have never heard anyone ever tell me in my seventeen years in higher education that they regret finishing their degree. I have only heard, them say… they should have finished it- a lot sooner! Timing is everything… It is your season, your time… to make the most of this opportunity! Some words of encouragement- to those struggling to stay focused… Pace yourself, pray for yourself, and prepare yourself for the finish line! You can do it!!!