Learning new skills and information means more than an opportunity to grow professionally and enhance ones chances of building a successful career. Gaining new knowledge can facilitate our comprehension of the world while acquiring new skills – increase how we can contribute to its development. The most invigorating and enjoyable moments in learning for me occur when I can see how it can be applicable to both my professional and personal lives. The last learning experience that I found engaging was connected to a set of skills related to leadership and motivating others. I was eager to study because I saw several ways how I could apply these skills and knowledge.
Thinking about how new skills can be used actually seems to be a very effective learning strategy. Research suggests that to remember information better, we should make as many personal connections with it as possible, creating personal narratives that include this new knowledge (Gotlieb et al., 2016). Therefore, when I learn something new, I try to create a broad context and many retrieval cues imagining myself in different situations employing the information I receive. I used this approach to studying leadership techniques envisioning various settings where I can motivate and support others.
Learning these skills was very important for me at a personal level because I used to think that I had no leadership qualities comparing myself to transformative or authoritarian types of leaders. When I learned about servant leadership, I finally found an approach that suits me best. Research shows that servant leadership’s focus is on empowering people to achieve success with a leader concentrating on their followers, first, and, then, on the mission (Gandolfi & Stone, 2018). As a person who finds joy in seeing other people motivated and content with what they are doing, I would like to further strengthen my servant leader abilities.
As for the activities I enjoy doing, most of them are outdoors, including walks, meeting with friends, and doing some form of sport. During the pandemic, I was forced to start exercising at home, and though it was unusual at first, I have grown to like it, and it really helps me distract from any unpleasant, anxious, or intense thoughts. I feel happy and content when I have an opportunity to spend meaningful time with my family discussing our everyday lives, as well as plans for the future. I enjoy reading, especially non-fiction books that provide me with new ideas, but sometimes I just need a quiet evening on my own watching Netflix.
My top priorities are family, work, and time to myself. Work-related tasks can be demanding and lead to the reduction of the time I spend engaging in self-care activities. However, I notice that when I work or study most of the time constantly being productive, I tend to lose concentration and motivation much faster. Therefore, I make conscious efforts to introduce self-care into my life, for instance, spend an evening reading a book or go for a long walk at weekends. However, communicating with my family is the activity that I tend to prioritize even when I am too busy for self-care because I understand how important it is for us all to stay connected. School responsibilities will undoubtfully make maintaining work-life balance even more challenging. Therefore, to ensure that I devote enough time to my family and myself, I am intended to plan ahead self-care activities and communicating with my family members the way I plan my professional and educational tasks.
I think that my family’s support is essential for my academic performance because they have always been people who kept me going in the most challenging situations I have been through. I also believe that my success at school would, to a large extent, depend on my time-management skills so I can devote enough attention to studying while remaining loyal to my work and family obligations. However, to maintain such a busy schedule, one should be motivated because, otherwise, it can be easy to enter a state of burnout. Moreover, motivation is linked particularly to academic performance, “as it is a construct that integrates both thoughts and feelings” (Hayat et al., 2018, p. 172). I am planning to set personal goals related to my education, so even when the amount of work and assignments gets overwhelming, I would have an anchor to support me.
Thus, creating schedules for myself with manageable and achievable goals setting aside time for all the important aspects of my life seems to be one of the most effective strategies to maintain a work-study-life balance. I also believe that while making these plans and writing to-do lists, it is essential to set priorities. There are two types of prioritizing I plan to employ. One is related to defining my general long-term priorities such as family, work, self-care. Then, I would establish the most important or urgent tasks for a particular week or day, depending on whether I have any family gatherings or critical assignments I should attend to. I believe it would help me to maintain the overall balance but stay flexible if one particular area of my life demands more attention at some point.
Hayat, A. A., Salenhi, A., & Kojuri, J. (2018). Medical student’s academic performance: The role of academic emotions and motivation. Journal of Advances in Medical Education & Professionalism, 6(4), 168-175.
Gandolfi, F., & Stone, S. (2018). Leadership, leadership styles, and servant leadership. Journal of Management Research, 18(4), 261-269.
Gotlieb, R., Jahner, E., Immordino-Yang, M. H., & Kaufman, S. B. (2016). How social-emotional imagination facilitates deep learning and creativity in the classroom. In R. A. Beghetto, & J. C. Kaufman (Eds.), Nurturing creativity in the classroom (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.