the circle of influence & what it means for college students

I have a distinct sophomore-year memory of calling my dad in tears, complaining I was not able to do everything I wanted to do.  I wanted to be involved in everything so I could make as big of an impact on my community as possible and, as a result, I became incredibly overwhelmed.  In response to my call for advice, my dad introduced me to the Circle of Influence.

What is the Circle of Influence?

Imagine a circle.  Picture you and each of your concerns (big and small) in the middle of that circle. When you think about all of those concerns at once, they easily become overwhelming. Now, picture an additional circle – the Circle of Influence – that encompasses the concerns you DO have control over/can do something about.

The key is to focus on your circle – the concerns you are able to control – so you can function at full capacity.  While the circle might expand or shrink depending on the context (resources, source of support, energy, etc.) it is important to check-in with yourself to be sure you not pushing the limits of your circle to the point of exhaustion.

Circle of Influence

What does this means for our students?

Sophomore-year Veronica was definitely performing outside of her circle.  It took someone else’s perspective to help me understand why I was feeling so overwhelmed.  As student affairs professionals, we have the opportunity to support our students when they are reaching too far beyond their circles. Additionally, we can proactively provide them with the resources needed to guide them away from going beyond the point of influence.

What does this look like in practice?

Continue teaching students the importance of prioritizing.  When students are able to name their values and identify what is of significance to them, they are better able to focus on a specific range of experiences to achieve a depth of growth as opposed to being overwhelmed by the breadth of opportunities.

Area of Focus

Don’t get me wrong – the purpose of college for many students is to explore opportunities so they are better able to identify what is valuable to them and that’s great!  But sometimes getting involved in too many opportunities is counter-productive.

Remember: just because a circle of influence decreases in size doesn’t mean it decreases in value.Tweet: Just because a circle of influence decreases in size doesn't mean it decreases in value. http://ctt.ec/Fc895+ @vmroman18

Thanks, Dad : )

xo vm

// concepts adapted from The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by S. Covey

// read about recognizing everyday leadership

10 tips for work/life balance

10tips

The balancing act can be rather daunting, especially during busier times of the semester.  As a student affairs professional, you may often encourage students to live balanced lives and yet you may find you sometimes fail to follow your own advice.  How can you support others in addition you support yourself?

Finding a work/life balance allows you as an SA professional to function at your fullest potential and lead by example. Here are 10 tips that have personally helped Jack Korpob and me maintain our own work/life balance:

  1. Say “No” // In student affairs, you are often presented with great opportunities or you are asked to do more than you can handle. Oftentimes, you can find yourself saying “yes” to everything because you are afraid another opportunity will never come around again or you feel obligated to do something to prove yourself. This all makes sense, but you have to think about how you are feeling and if it will be effective if you say “yes” to what is being asked of you. If you truly want to do something and your “yes” is genuine, by all means say “yes” to the opportunity. If your heart is not in something or you are feeling exhausted, it is better to be honest. This may sound hard to do because it is.
  2. Treat Yo’self // For some, it’s getting a monthly massage, for others it’s buying a nice meal. Whatever it is, find something you consider a “luxury” item and give it to yourself. It’s something to look forward to and is something for you. In student affairs, we oftentimes give ourselves to students and colleagues, but we may forget to give back to ourselves. Remember that you have your own life and that you should enjoy it!
  3. Live Authentically // You can’t be one person in one place and then go home and be completely different. Try to take your best self into each environment, as opposed to balancing which environment should get your best self that day. Living authentically will help you naturally maintain a sense of balance within all of your environments.
  4. Expand Your Professional and Personal Circles // When you think about balance, it also means the people and relationships you have with others. Try meeting people for lunch or outside of work hours who you do not directly work with. If you can speak about other things besides work (or keep conversation about work to a minimum), great! Even better, really capitalize on friendships outside of work or your institution. Having friends in different social circles can really make a big difference.
  5. One life, One Calendar // Combining your personal & professional calendars helps you see the bigger picture and make conscious choices about how to spend your time. Once an item is put into the calendar, make sure you are fully present while you are addressing that particular item.
  6. Make Time // You have the power to put things in your calendar that give you energy and help you get through the day. Setting a time-limit for each item in your calendar or on your to-do list is difficult, but it allows you to be more efficient and move forward to address other tasks as well.
  7. Give Yourself Time to Recharge // You all know student affairs is not a typical 9-5 position. Some people live-on/live-in and work nights and weekends. However, it doesn’t mean you should not set boundaries between your work life and personal life. This does not mean that when it’s 5pm, you should stop all work activities, but it might be wise to set a range of times that you should begin to slow down. Deadlines must be met, but if you are not pushing a deadline, work will be there when you get there in the morning. Take time to relax and recharge and do absolutely nothing.
  8. Get Some Sleep // You can schedule your day with work and other commitments and do the things that give you energy, but you must take the time to sleep enough hours every night to do everything you want to accomplish. Make sure to balance your waking hours with your sleep. Sleep is a prerequisite for wakefulness. Manage your sleep and you can do much more when you’re awake and feeling refreshed!
  9. You Do You // Although it is helpful to ask others for tips on how to achieve a balanced life, what works for one individual may not work for you.  Don’t be afraid to try new strategies to determine which strategies work best for your own lifestyle.
  10.  Don’t Give Up // “Balance” will have a different meaning to you at different points in your life.  Remind yourself that finding a sense of balance is a process, not an end-goal.  It takes patience and lots of practice.

So here you have it – 10 tips that can help you with work/life balance!  What would you add to the list?

xo vm

// original post here

// more on balance here

// thoughts on living a fulfilling life here

What would happen to “busy” if…

“We need a workplace shift, a recognition and reward shift to productivity, accountability, impact, and efficacy.”

musingsfromthemiddle

Earlier this morning, I posted this on Twitter “In higher education, presence is more important than contribution, effectiveness, efficiency.” The glorification of busy is rampant. The American “busy” rhetoric stems from fear. If we are busy, then we are productive and therefore, valuable. Neither of these things are true. But we keep doing it, don’t we? We post on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn on and on and on. “Look at me!” “Look at me at this conference!”  “Look at me presenting this workshop!” Look at me writing this blogpost!” (irony anyone?)

Busy doesn’t equal productivity. Busy is just spinning wheels. Busy is for others, about others. And our value comes from who we are and the unique gifts and talents we bring, not a fancy Excel spreadsheet or working til 8pm every night. We need a workplace shift, a recognition and reward shift to productivity, accountability, impact, and efficacy. I…

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are you well? try this wellness assessment

checkyourwellness

This week I had the pleasure of traveling to sweet sunny Tampa, FL to attend ACPA’s Annual Convention, which aims to support and foster college student learning by generating and disseminating knowledge for student affairs (SA) professionals (like me!) and the higher education community.  During one of the session blocks, I decided to forgo a presentation to meet with the Commission for Wellness and I’m so glad I did!

In the short amount of time we met, we discussed our frustrations with the b-word, the ever-changing concept of balance, and the importance of taking care of your self in the field of SA.  A brief discussion about whether or not wellness can be assessed inspired me to share a wellness assessment with you.

The Dimensions of Wellness Assessment from Northern Illinois University is one of my favorite wellness assessments because it clearly breaks down each dimension of wellness and provides you with a fun visual at the end:

wellnessassessment

How cool is this?!  People generally have a feeling about which dimension needs the most attention to be well but this is an easy tool for those that might want a more quantitative idea of their current wellness status.

I typically use this assessment once a month as a way to reflect on the past month and make plans for the future.  This particular circle is much too perfect to be mine but you get the idea : )

Overall, I am feeling refreshed and excited to connect with a group of individuals who are also passionate about wellness and SA.  If you take the quiz, I would love to know how you are utilizing the results!

xo vm

// shoutout to my friend Lauren for developing this tool

// click here, here, and here for more of my thoughts on balance

// follow this link you are interested in learning more about ACPA

trust you’ll adjust

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One of my simple goals for the year was to start a blog and share weekly posts.  For those of you that follow me regularly, you probably noticed I haven’t posted over the past two weeks. Here is a glimpse at what has been keeping me away from my blog:

AND….

OH. MY.  The past two weeks have been truly incredible and I often find myself overwhelmed by the wonderful people in my life.  Yes, YOU, wonderful people!!

Regardless of the happiness I have shared with family, friends, colleagues, and Adam over the past few weeks, these transitions are still overwhelming at times.  All of these events – graduating, starting a new job, planning a wedding, moving back to Atlanta – have had me on a roller coaster of emotions.  Don’t get me wrong, I am beyond thankful for all of the new changes going on in my life, but leaving UGA is bittersweet.

These transitions have me thinking about how I can best handle all of this change. Below are a few tips that have been helpful for me over the past few weeks and I hope they are helpful to you as well!

Trust You’ll Adjust
Tamar Chansky wrote an interesting article about how, even if it’s a good change, you can feel “off” or “bad” during a transition because you haven’t located yourself in your new context yet.  She assures readers that it is normal to not feel fantastic right after a transition.  It is important you don’t expect to have a seamless process during transition because it takes time to adjust to the changes.  Ultimately, trust that you will adjust over time.

Leverage Your Strengths
In the Gallup Business Journal, Brian Brim discusses how the better you understand your talents, the more effectively you can take control of the situations with which you are confronted.  Brian recommends individuals going through a transition use their strengths to handle the changes.  I would argue my positivity and ability to strategize have been the strengths I have utilized the most over the past few weeks.

Try Various Coping Responses
Schlossberg’s Theory of Transition describes four major factors that influence your ability to cope with a transition: situation, self, support, and strategies (Evans, Forney, and Guido-DiBrito, 1998).  Strategies are the coping responses you can have to a transition.  You can use strategies that modify the situation, control the meaning of the situation, or manage the stress of the situation.  Although some strategies are come to us more naturally, during times of many transitions it can be helpful to utilize more than one strategy to handle the changes.

xo vm