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Personal Fulfillment Counts as Much as Academic Success

The holidays are always a great time to reflect on the past year and look forward to a fresh start. With my students, we talk about the past year, revisit goals that had been set and create resolutions for the upcoming year. These are some resolutions that I believe every teen should incorporate into their lives, not just for academic success but also for personal fulfillment. It’s easy for teens and their parents to focus on just academics, test scores, and college applications, but these years are fundamental to who a student will become as an adult.


• Resolve to get involved in at least one activity for the pure pleasure of it. You may already have a laundry list of clubs that will look good on college applications, but do you truly enjoy each and every one? Perhaps the Ultimate Frisbee Club or taking photography lessons have eluded your schedule thus far but really excite you. If so, make the time. Remember that life is not just about doing what you have to do but also about pursuing your curiosities and interests.


• Resolve to have meaningful conversations with people. Sure, it is easy to just text a quick note, instruction or piece of gossip. But is it really that exciting, being at the mercy of your phone or messaging app? Sit down with friends and talk in person. Talk about what you love, what bothers you, your hopes and aspirations. This is how friendships are strengthened.


• Resolve to put your phone away and actually smell the roses. These days, people cross the street with their eyes on their smartphone rather than oncoming traffic. We are so obsessed with this little screen that the world is literally passing us by. There are so many things that can be learned by just paying attention to what is around us.


• Resolve to sleep more. Everyone complains about being tired at some point during the year (or every single day). There is one simple solution. Sleep more. Yes, there will be nights when you have so much work that getting a full night’s rest is impossible. Those nights should be the exceptions and not the norm. If you really look at how you spend your time, I am certain that you will find wasted time that could have been better spent getting those much-needed winks.


• Resolve to read at least five books this year for pleasure (more is better). While you are required to read for class, find some books that you are excited about. You can check out the New York Times’ Best Sellers list if you need some suggestions. And with all these meaningful conversations that you have resolved to have this year, I bet your friends will recommend some amazing options as well. These books will expose you to new ideas, experiences and perspectives.


• Resolve to think of school as a place of learning and not just grades. I understand that there is immense pressure to perform academically, but the idea of learning for the sake of learning has become a foreign concept.


We have become slaves to GPAs and test scores. But in your classes, focus on learning concepts and analyzing ideas. Ask the deeper questions. Remember the hows and whys. In the long term, this is what will help you to be more successful in college and in life. At work, people who are able to think creatively and analytically are the ones who are highly sought out.


The year can be a fulfilling and meaningful one. 

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