In my DERRICK Interviews the last question I ask experts is “What Keys to Success can you leave for others?” Dr. Will Moreland took it one step further and suggested that I start sharing these Keys to Success in the form of articles, reports and books. With that thought in mind I looked back at my career and realized how much it would have helped me if I had a team of success stories in my corner.
Networking with and interviewing celebrities and experts has given me a front row seat into the lives of people at the top and I’m here to share their insight with you through #20 Keys to Success for College Students.
1. Set Goals. Goal setting is used by top-level athletes, successful business-people and achievers in all fields. Setting goals gives you long-term vision and short-term motivation. By setting sharp, clearly defined goals, you can measure and take pride in the achievement of those goals, and you’ll see forward progress in what might previously have seemed a long pointless grind. To have a goal in mind is a thought. To write out your goal is to have an action plan. There are many Goal Setting tips online. Do your homework – that starts with writing out your goals. Create your plan and review your goals daily. Are the actions you are taking propelling you in the direction of your goals? If they are not, readjust and get back on track!
2. Know your Priorities. Priorities are the handful of things in your life, career or business that are important to you. Priorities are broad elements of life, and they often become misplaced somewhere amongst life’s daily routine. It is wise to have only a few priorities. If you have too many, you’re not likely to respect each of them adequately. Goals support priorities. A single priority may have one or more goals associated with it.
A goal is a statement that is specific to what you intend to accomplish, and when you intend on accomplishing it. All the goal setting and attainment you ever fantasized about or hoped for, however, won’t be fulfilling if your goals don’t support your carefully chosen priorities. Of course, your goals can change as previous ones are accomplished and if some of your life priorities change. Each goal has to support a priority, and each priority is supported by at least one goal.
3. Get Experience. There are many ways to get relevant experience – volunteering is a great start! The vast majority of grads wish they had more than one type of experience during college. Employers comparing graduating seniors as job candidates want and expect you to have experience outside the classroom. Freshman year is not too early to start! Look for volunteer work, a part-time or summer job that will be a stepping stone to something more competitive later.
Networking is extremely important in a competitive job environment. By networking throughout your degree, you are creating meaningful business relationships with peers in your field. Having a solid network and great connections upon graduation within your field will prove to be an invaluable resource.
4. Own your Calendar. Get and use a calendar. Write things down! Time management for students is a crucial component to your success. There are many things to juggle and effectively planning for them will help you deal with the stressors of college life like having papers due, studying time, social events, exam prep, part time job and seeing your family. These all put strain on the multi-tasking student. Throw in a little procrastination into the mix of a project and it could spell disaster. Being an effective planner and even planning for the unexpected can assist in juggling multiple priorities. Planning ahead will assist in not feeling overwhelmed.
5. Manage your Money. It is very easy for college students to get caught up in spending. Those people behind the table giving you a free t shirt when you sign up for a credit card are hazardous to your personal wealth! The thought of getting a credit card now that you’re an adult and having access to cash instantly is very tempting, but it also puts a lot of students in big debt when they can’t make payments on time and their credit history gets impacted.
Buy used textbooks. Walk instead of having a car. Use your student discounts. Pay your bills on time. Save then Splurge. Track your spending and save your receipts! There is a lot of non-academic spending that takes place on a daily basis. If you aren’t on top of the little spending here and there it can really add up and effect your monthly budget. Money management is a big component to your overall success. Decisions made on campus can have a ripple effect for years to follow. Enjoy your time on campus but spend wisely, you’ll be miles ahead when you are ready to move on to a full time job!
6. Use your Resources. Using one’s resources is fundamental in assisting you in achieving your goal, but what does that really mean. Resources are avenues to your arrival. For example, if you have a passion for speaking, a resource for you could be a pastor of a church or a teacher at your school. Why? In order to be a good speaker, you must know how to research, write, organize thought and deliver the thoughts via teaching/instructing. How many salespersons do you know? What about community leaders, business owners who have to use presentations to obtain customers. How resourceful can YOU be?
7. Ignore the Naysayers. These are the people who are discouraging to your dreams, visions and goals. They are what I call “toxic people”. They shoot poison and every target that screams success. These people are dream-snatchers and vision-killers. Stay away and keep looking up!
8. Evaluate your Purpose. It is not enough to say that you want to be something. There must be thought, research and analysis in order for your mind to see it as real. Ask yourself pertinent questions like, what are my true talents, what are my interests, can I see myself doing this 5, 10 15 years and more…? Short term and a long term plans will keep you focused, especially doing times when you feel like giving up
9. Execute your Plan. Once you have thoroughly researched, found and evaluated your purpose, you must put the plan in motion. Begin to set daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals and acknowledge your accomplishments along the way. Realize that success comes before work in the dictionary or if you are insane! Struggles are part of life’s way of granting you a character endorsement. Do not be afraid to fail..be more afraid of not trying! You must have thought, research and analysis.
10. Think Healthy. College students are on their own for the first time in college. In order for them to continue the success that got them there it’s important to eat well, work out and get rest in order to be the best they can be in class and as they study. Keep the body strong and the mind will follow.
11. Don’t Conform. I believe if success is a room, we are all born with a unique key to a unique room of that success. College is like a maze where we start to see the purpose, but the end result, or the key within us, is a long way off.
12. Expect Newness. Let new events, new, unexpected people and opportunities shape your character and let those events and instances, further illuminate who you’re supposed to be.
13. Find Mentorship. You will either learn by someone else’s mistakes or make the same mistakes yourself. Regardless of how smart or lucky you think you are, the school of hard knocks is waiting to teach you some lessons. Find someone who has accomplished what you want to accomplish and listen to their advice.
14. Accept Responsibility. Nobody is going to push you! In college, you’re responsible for your own success. Mom and Dad aren’t there to tell you to do your homework- or remind you to do your laundry. Your professors will help, but only if you ask. They’re not mind-readers. Before you set foot on campus- accept full personal responsibility for your success.
15. Stay Positive. We all start our professional journey as a novice and throughout our journey, we will face many challenges and adversities and make mistakes along the way. My advice is to remain positive and be grateful for mistakes as they are the learning tools that we need to make us more efficient and wiser. All you need to do is learn from your mistakes and remain positive. You might be a beginner today but can change the world tomorrow.
“Hold close to your dreams…Whatever you dream for tomorrow, whatever you hope to achieve, remember that nothing is out of your reach if you only first believe.”
16. Activate Connections. Find people who possess the same opinions and goals that are aligned with yours. When seeking the Win/Win relationship you raise the stakes to assure a Triple Win for ALL!
17. Keep Learning. Take extra classes and never stop studying how money works. Having the knowledge of bookkeeping and accounting best practices will help keep much more money in your possession and less money leaving you throughout your life.
18. Be Humble. At different points in our lives we can’t fathom that we don’t already “know the truth/facts/everything.” However, knowing that you don’t know everything is one of the greatest frames of mind to have, because you’ll be open enough to be constantly looking for better and more efficient solutions. Be confident that you are talented and know a great deal already, but don’t be too cocky where you miss out on growing because of arrogance. Stay open-minded.
19. Never Quit from your ultimate goal. Sometimes, you may have to pivot from your original plan on how to achieve your goals, but never quit on your ultimate goal of what would mean success for you. Sometimes, you might be on the wrong path, but just change direction, alternate the plan, and keep moving towards that goal…and don’t stop until you get there!
20. Be Flexible. I know being flexible may not sound like a profound key to success but truly I tell you from experience that the most perfect plan for success will, at some point, be disrupted and possibly be turned completely upside down and inside out. The wise person knows that its not what happens to us or what we achieve that determines our success but it is how we respond to the unexpected emergency, the unforeseen chaos, and the life altering tragedies that occur while we are on our journey to becoming successful. This is what determines who will be able to stand the test of time, and the trials and tribulations while on their way to unveiling their Greatness.
Flexibility is your secret weapon. Flexibility in the sense of being able to be spiritually connected to God no matter what we face in life for He is our rock, flexibility in the sense that we know to maintain a couple of degrees of separation from anything and everything we are affiliated with so that nothing can emotionally break us, and flexibility in the sense that we understand we live in a dynamically changing time of technology advancement yet we stay true to our calling and flexible enough to adapt in order to stay relevant to the needs of our customers yet not change so much that when we look in the mirror we are surprised at who is looking back.
Please share these Keys to Success with others. Have a great school year and feel free to reach out and network with the experts in this article. Remember this thought. Whether you Facebook or Twitter you have to be Linked In.
Derrick Hayes, an alumnus of Tennessee State University is available for small and large meetings, church events, academic speaking engagements and workshops. Please visit Derrick’s website at http://www.DerrickHayes.com and to book him for a speaking engagement or media event, send an email to info@DerrickHayes.com or call (706) 615-1662.