As spring semester gets underway, it is easy to be excited for what’s to come next. New classes, new experiences, new clubs, new opportunities.
It is also easy to find yourself in the winter doldrums, feeling like nothing much has changed, or finding yourself struggling to stay motivated.
Regardless of where you feel you are currently; it is very easy at Penn to always be pushing forward.
However, I’m here today to share with you that it is also important to take time to stop, look around, and think about the past. Whether that’s the previous semester, your summer 2022 internship, or a job you had in high school. Taking a beat to reflect upon what you learned, what you liked, and even what you didn’t like, can help you create a fruitful path moving forward. This strategy may help you gain more motivation, or even help channel your excitement for the new semester in a productive way.
But what is reflection? And who has time to stop and think about things that already happened?
Well, its not as hard as you might think—I recently came across an article on Edutopia (“Treating Reflection as a Habit Not an Event”, Andrew Miller, 2019), focused on how to make reflection a regular practice.
For those who do not know, Edutopia is a website published by the George Lucas Foundation that provides practical strategies for learning and teaching in preK-12 education ( as former K-12 non-profit educator I still frequent this site from time to time!).
While this is geared towards K-12 educators, as I read the article, I realized many of these steps can be easily adapted as a Penn student and help you embrace that growth mindset.
Ok here we go—if you’ve stayed with me this long, awesome! Here are some ways to incorporate more reflection time into your life ( read full article here)
- Setting Frequent Short-Term Goals
It can be hard to stop and think what you accomplished over an entire semester, or even over an entire summer. So instead, as you begin your reflection journey, break the semester up into small chunks, and use those smaller time frames to set goals you are hoping to achieve. It is a lot easier to stop and think about why you did or didn’t reach a goal if you are only looking at 2-3 weeks.
- Quick Check-Ins
A benefit of setting frequent short-term goals is that you are more likely to check-in with yourself at the end of the time frame. These check-ins don’t need to be hours long—simply set a timer for 10 or 15 minutes and ask yourself the following questions “What? So What? Now What? “
- Make reflection part of your routine!
Add quarterly, weekly, or bi-weekly check-ins to your calendar. Pick a time you know you will stick to. Maybe you schedule them for weekends, or days you don’t have classes. Maybe you schedule them as part of a mealtime, or even while you are at the gym. Regardless we are more likely to do something if we write it down!
As always, Career Services is available to help you reflect on your experiences as you prepare to write about them on a resume, graduate school essay, or talk about them during an interview—so please make an appointment with us—we are happy to help!