Advice to students

I will like to share with you the essential learnings from the book "The Sustainability Edge" and some of my personal advice to my Junior College students.​​

1) Do you know what are the top 6 things that are truly meaningful or truly important to you? If not, spend some time thinking about it.

Knowing our priorities can help us in decision making because sometimes some things are good to have but we don't necessarily have the resources and time for everything; we have to make sure those at the top of our priorities are done first.

Sometimes our goals run into conflict with each other, knowing our priorities can help us decide which to sacrifice or how to make compromises in a balanced and creative manner.

2) Life can be distracting and filled with tasks; to deal with stress and distractions, decide the top six tasks you would accomplish tomorrow every night before you sleep; the top 6 tasks would roughly correlate with your top 6 life goals. To ensure focus, move on to the 2nd task in the list only after you are done with the first; except if location, time and energy makes it more sensible to do something lower down in the list first.

Your goals need not be clear immediately, but as days pass by if you make it a practice to ask yourself what is most important and meaningful to you; you will discover those goals that are fleeting and hence not really meaningful and find those that would ever stick around that is core to you.

Having clarified your goals, you should then relentlessly focus on them improving the ethics, efficiency and effectiveness in which you do those things continuously. Over time and consistent application of effort in your chosen field, you will rise to a new standard in effectiveness in those things that few would match and that would become your specialty. In business or career, having that specialty ensures that few can compete or displace you and you would be relatively comfortable and enjoy your career if you chose it according to your passion..

In studies, you may find one or a few subjects that you can do very well. Things that people will come looking for you for help or advice. That is how you can become helpful to others. If you so prepared, you will never be clueless when life or an job interviewer test you with the options they offer or ask you where you see yourself in 5 years. You will be prepared for that kind of opportunities that come in an unexpected moment and leave if you hesitate. You will be prepared to resist those kind of temptations to do things that are not important to you.

Besides goals, you will need to deal with repetitive problems. For example, you may repeatedly be stress or troubled over something. Instead of letting it be a nagging voice in your head, why not sit down and talk to yourself, or, if you have, good friends who can give sane advice, to come up with creative ways to deal with them.

For example, making a resolution to make bed every morning if you know being nagged at by your mum is a greater pain.

Sometimes we slacken in our resolution and that is normal. The idea is to keep picking up the resolution whenever you fail in it until the day it sticks with you. Like a baby learning to walk; falling and picking itself up again and again, eventually he learns to walk without ever falling down again. You should learn anything with the same perseverance.

Don't be discouraged if you learn and forget or your effort don't bear immediate results. The thing about anything biological, like how you grow up or how you learn, is that growth happens invisibly. Think back to the time you first learn addition subtraction and multiplication. Those were hard things to you then, but do you even think when you multiply numbers now?

You can eat, but it is the unconscious biological activities that help you grow, therefore allow it. Use work rest cycles to allow it. Use fun to keep yourself from burning out.

Be mindful that too much of anything become meaningless. Too much fun, stress from not fulfilling obligations results. Too much work, one burns out and give up. Too much rest, one feel even more tired and lifeless. Too much food, one cant even digest. Too little food, one starves. Hence we see the importance of moderation.

How much is moderate? Like a chef tasting the soup from time to time to ensure a good taste before deciding to add or not add spices or salt; you should reflect what are your work, fun, rest doing to you regularly instead of being habitual. Make your own adjustments until you know what is good for you. Don't let your friends, peer pressure drag you into endless fun or endless work, find your own optimal.

When you are tired after making some effort in learning, take a break and let your mind rest, it will do the unconscious work of pitting what you learnt into memory. To be effective, make sure your mind is focus on the work at hand, if you realize it is running in different places after studying for some time, take a break, walk around, begin again when you feel ready.

It is just like how you constantly eat three meals a day and grow to your height in 17 years. You don't stop eating when you don't see yourself growing taller. Similarly, you should just study whenever your mind is alert and rest when your mind is tired. Don't break from study for days, don't study till you puke. Be moderate.

Fun, eating and learning should be everyday activities. Do strike a balance in these things.

In your personal development, direction matters more than temporary success or failure, praises or humiliation.

If you are growing, failure is inevitable because you are trying something you do for the first time or not sure.

You may feel confident at something but results can be good or still be dashing bad in the end. Pick yourself up if you fail. Don't care if others are mocking your effort. Sometimes we imagine people mocking us more than people are actually really mocking us.

If you succeed and people praise you, treat it with equanimity. Do not become proud or boast as it may stop your progress too. When people see you are proud, they stop teaching you. When they see you think you are good, they are afraid or unconcern to show you anything they know even if they have good will. You may slacken in your own effort too if you assume you are good and there is nothing more to learn. The knowledge in life is so vast and their useful applications are so many that you should never want to stop learning, whatever your age, however learnt you are. There is a part of the brain that deals with learning; it is like a learning muscle. The more you learn, the faster you become at learning, the less you learn, the harder you find it is to learn new things, so make it a point to exercise the learning brain daily.

Regardless of how good or bad you are now, only the direction and the daily work should matter. If you are not dead yet, keep learning, because there is hope in learning, you may learn something that change your life for much better.

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