I want to share something I wrote the summer between my sophomore and junior year in college. I feel it is as relevant today as it was then, and from the day after I wrote this, it changed the course of my life and how I operate as an individual. I hope you find some value in a couple of my personal rules, and implement a process into your own life.
Thirty days prior starting my junior year at Michigan State, I was sitting inside of The Smith Barney (now Morgan Stanley) offices in Charlotte, North Carolina. I had just received notice my application to the undergraduate business program was not accepted. All of my friends, including people I felt were no more qualified than I was, were accepted. I had just completed study abroad the first half of the summer in Western Europe, and finished the summer at a great internship doing research for one of the largest financial advisors in North Carolina. Upon completion of my sophomore year, I had been elected as treasurer of my fraternity, working for a local immigration lawyer as a bookkeeper, and taking a full schedule of classes. I learned an extremely valuable lesson that year. I believed I was doing everything right, yet somehow I still felt I failed. I collected myself after the shock lifted, and wrote the following rules.
Rule 1: Be Selfish!
Not selfish as in stealing the last piece of bacon. Selfish in a sense of making sure you give yourself the attention to reach a maturity you can be proud of, then subsequently directing your attention and help towards others.
Rule 2: DO IT NOW!
Procrastination isn’t anything new and for some can last a lifetime. The key to procrastination is understanding how YOU get work done. Where and when do you work most efficiently? If it’s in the library at 12pm, or at 3am, make sure in those times you are working as hard as possible.
Rule 3: Nothing is too complicated; with hard work and practice you can complete ANYTHING!
This rule may come off more as an opinion. But I am a firm believer of if there’s a will, there’s a way. As an undergraduate you will most likely not run up against a problem that hasn’t been solved before. If you can’t find the answer to a question, you simply aren’t looking hard enough. Break through the barrier and never feel embarrassed to ask for help.
Rule 4: Priority driven; the most important thing might not be in front of your face.
It becomes easy to be shortsighted during your years in school. There are so many distractions and outside sources pulling and pushing you in different directions, sometimes you just want to get something done and move on. Whenever you are about to take on a new task/job/relationship, try and think about how this will affect your life 6 months from now.
Rule 5: Do what is important to me, and others WILL follow.
Here’s how I define a leader: someone who lives his or her message. By being passionate around a subject and also dedicated enough to prioritize relentlessly pursuing success, through acting, not preaching, you will become a leader. You will not have to say a word to anyone, and suddenly you will start noticing others coming to you for advice.
Rule 6: You can NEVER make everyone happy.
It looks like a pretty simple rule, but for those of you who pride yourself as being a selfless, empathetically driven individual, going to great lengths to put your happiness second to someone else’s can have negative effects in the long run. You have to break a couple eggs to make an omelet and the sun will rise tomorrow even if you are not everyone’s favorite person.
Rule 7: Compromise and Acceptance, never stop moving your feet.
There are times where you will have to deal with things out of your control and move on. By giving in a little on a confrontation, and coming to a compromise more quickly, it allows you to move on to your higher priority items.
Rule 8: Good things happen with hard work, understanding, and patience.
Success takes time. Our society has become one of instant gratification more than ever. Even the world’s most successful entrepreneurs had their ideas years before they made their first million. Be patient, put your head down, and get the work done.
Rule 9: Relax; you are only 30 minutes away from complete organization.
There’s something to the quote, “Write it down to forget it.” Make a list of everything in your head you have to do and then rank prioritize them. Clean your room, organize all your e-mails, call your mom, and take walk. You can’t imagine how much more you will feel in control.
Rule 10: The first idea or plan you have will NEVER be as good as the final one.
Think critically about approaching any new project and do some trial and error. Most of the time you won’t get something completely right on the first try. Accept that way of thinking. Failures are the stepping stones to success.
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Joe Vezzani is the Vice President of Customer Intelligence for LifeLine Response, a mobile safety provider who has partnered with the NSCS to bring mobile safety to universities and communities nationwide.