By Geanell Adams
As I begin to write this article, I reflect back to my own time in school while working full time in a state with no family and trying to stay on task and target for meeting my goals of completing school while studying court reporting and medical transcription. That was no small feat. Several themes stand out in my reflection that led to my being successful. It is important that, as students on this journey, you remember why you are here, set mini goals, share your long- and short-term goals with others, reward the small victories, and remember to ask for help. These tips will help you succeed and reach realistic goals that will build a foundation for lifelong joy and success in a career you will be passionate about.
The first tip is remembering why you are on this journey. Your personal motivations go far beyond embarking upon and advancing a career in realtime reporting and/or captioning. Ask yourself: Did I decide to start school so I could do something I care about every day? Did I start school to provide a better life for me and my family? Whatever your personal reasons are, write them down on a few sticky notes and place them somewhere you will see often. This can be on your desk, computer, dashboard, or refrigerator. This will serve to remind yourself why the small things you do today can make a difference for your future.
The second successful tip is to set mini goals. Successfully completing an educational program and starting or switching careers can feel overwhelming because it might take more than a few weeks or months to actually achieve. Set short-term goals that are symbolic of your progress and give you inspiration to study along the way. When setting short-term goals, make sure they include mastering one new skill, asking your instructor and/or mentor for help with one topic; host a study group; improve your grade on an exam or in a course; stick to a study schedule; and attend each and every class. As you set a few short-term goals that are easier to attain, you will be able to mark your progress toward achieving your long-term goal. Notice the progress you’re making every day so you can gain extra motivation for studying and achieving your goal. Make sure your goals follow the SMART pattern (specific, measureable, attainable, realistic, and timed).
Another successful tip is to tell someone about your long- and short-term goals. By sharing your goals with others, you birth a team of supporters who want to see you succeed. While you might feel vulnerable talking about your goals at first, it is a sign that you’re being honest about something that is of great importance to you. When those around you – your family, friends, and instructors – understand what you want to achieve, they can help you along the way. Your family can be understanding when you need to spend time in school, your friends can encourage you, and your instructors can hold you accountable. Share your long- and short-term goals so you have a community of support during this time of transition.
The next successful tip is to reward the small victories. You are likely making some sacrifices to achieve your goals. You might be spending less time with your family and friends, spending more time in the lab classroom, and investing in your education. While sacrifices are necessary to make life changes, it can be difficult for students to stay motivated when they place too many limitations on themselves. Remember to celebrate when you achieve any of the mini goals on your list. Whether it is treating yourself to your favorite restaurant or taking a relaxing walk, small rewards can mark your progress and keep you motivated to work toward the next reward.
The final successful tip is to ask for help. Oftentimes, you do everything you can to stay motivated to study and achieve your goals, and you still find yourself feeling overwhelmed. When this happens, it is time to reach out to your community of support. Explain your feelings to your family and friends. Ask your coworkers to take an extra shift for you. Ask your instructors for help with the materials, equipment, or concepts. Your community cares about you and wants to see you succeed. Asking for help shows that you are truly committed to achieving your goals. It shows that you have set goals worthy of achieving.
My challenge to you is this: Try these motivational strategies for a week. See if you feel more motivated to reach your goals, and better equipped to achieve them. If this works for you, continue repeating the cycle by updating your goals weekly after reflecting on your weekly accomplishments.
Geanell Adams, RMR, CRR, CRC, CRI, is a captioner and agency owner in Raymond, Miss. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.