Sometimes, don’t you just want to kick back and let others make the decisions? It’s SO much easier.

Whether they’re conscious or not, word on the street, or rather in the research, says, and it’s not definitive, but it is clear, that we make tens of thousands of decisions every day. When you think about it, it just doesn’t seem possible, but it’s true. Thousands and thousands.

I suppose we’re most aware of the big ones, because they tend to slow us down, frustrate us, confuse us, paralyze us, cause us pain, etc.

Choosing is what we do, we make decisions all day, every day.

And, although it would be uber nice to defer to others, aren’t you eager to make choices that reflect your heart and mind, where you deeply desire to go, what you deeply desire to do?

Don’t you want to be in control of what happens in your life; at least as far as it depends on you?

That’s why it’s so crucial to confidently and firmly place your butt in the driver’s seat of your life while you’re in college versus casually sliding over into the passenger seat.

Just because college has become an extension of childhood for the traditional student (straight from high school to college; ages 18 – 22), and an intentional, long pause for the non-traditional student (basically, every other situation and age), doesn’t mean it’s time to fork over your personal responsibility.

Consider college the time to stand in YOUR power and put YOUR stake in the ground.

Although it’s a time of major exploration, it can be used as a time to make some really thoughtful decisions about who you want to be, how you want to show up in the world, what you want to do, what you really care about, what you want your contribution to be, and what kind of footprint you want to leave.

Not to get all morbid on you, but there’s a pretty thought-provoking book written by Bronnie Ware titled, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing.

In the book she lists the top five regrets and spends a little time sharing her real life experiences and observations around each one during her stint as a palliative care nurse practitioner.

I’ll let you read the book or do some digging on your own to unveil the other four regrets, but the number one regret is:

“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

You certainly can’t live a life true to yourself if you’re in the passenger seat, lazing around, expecting someone else to choose for you.

Wake up, fully engage and become more aware of what’s happening around you. And, make choices along the way that steer your life in the direction you deeply desire to go.

Full engagement is about knowing what you want to do and why you want to do it. It’s about making conscious choices every step of the way.

You don’t have to be crystal clear, you just have to keep taking some kind of action, one step at a time.

While you’re hanging out in college for 4+ years, hop in the driver’s seat and get moving.

Here are a few possible actions to take:

  • SHOW UP to class physically, mentally and emotionally (just dragging your body to class is a waste of everyone’s time – your professors , your classmates and especially yours).
  • PARTICIPATE in class discussions; I know the professor is sometimes boring as hell, and I get it, snooze time (I’ve been on both sides – the student who suffered and the one delivering the boring lecture, especially during my early days when I was just a newbie to academic teaching); so ask some questions, force him or her to be interactive with the class (take the lead and shift them from boredom to interesting, which isn’t hard to do if you go to class prepared).
  • GET TO KNOW your professors; they’re just like you – they want to be seen, they want to be heard and they want to matter, and yes, they fart, get scared and feel insecure just like you do. Introduce yourself and actually have a conversation with each one, more than once. Don’t know what to say? Ask them questions about themselves and their work; people love to talk about themselves. I promise, they’ll remember you if you take the time to really “see them” and honor their humanity.
  • DO the assigned work and put in 100% effort and ask questions that provoke thought (for yourself and others). I always found it fascinating when students would complain about a class or professor, and what they weren’t learning in class only to find they weren’t even a real participant; were rarely, if ever prepared; didn’t even read the material, hell, some students hadn’t even bought the book to even pretend to participate. When asked to give a percentage of effort expended, some admitted to putting in 50% or less.
  • VISIT each of the major departments on your college campus and ask questions relevant to you getting some answers about how to best navigate your future – visit a department a month (Career Services, Counseling Services, Financial Aid, Student Success, etc.), you get the point. You’re paying for ALL of these services AND MORE, go get your money’s worth!
  • BE CURIOUS, go beyond what’s required, challenge yourself to step outside of what’s comfortable and stretch yourself; you’re not going to die, and even if you do, what a way to go, doing something that broadened your horizons and contributed to your growth as a human BEING.
  • FIND somewhere to study abroad, anywhere; look at a globe, a map of the world and consider a place you’d like to visit. Do it on the university’s dime or via a scholarship – there are plenty available opportunities while you are a student, if you take the initiative. So many scholarship opportunities drift away because of the attitude, “I’ve got to do all of that to get the scholarship, I’ll pass.” I can just about guarantee you won’t regret this experience. Widen your purview.
  • START something new – a club, a study circle, something, anything, you’re a creative being, surely you can come up with at least one great idea to start something.
  • CREATE something – anything, a controversial conversation, a painting, a doodle, take up a hobby; again, you’re a creative being, surely you can come up with at least one idea to create something.

This list is hardly exhaustive, but you get the point.

Each example begins with a verb, an ACTION word or phrase, which implies doing something, engaging, hopping in the driver’s seat.

So, which seat did you choose? If you chose the passenger seat, there’s still time to change your mind.

Vroom, vroom…

Have you listened to The Robbi Crawford Show, a budding podcast for and about students? Listen on Soundcloud, Stitcher and iTunes and leave a comment so others can find the show, or share one of your current challenges and we’ll create a show about it! And, check out the show notes for each episode via the podcast website.  

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