E-mail? Check. ID? Check. Office space? Check. Voicemail? …Still figuring out how the phone works. I have completed day nine at Cal State LA and am beginning to feel like an official employee, which means I am already planning out the academic year.
Planning out the whole year can feel a little overwhelming, recognizing I am the resident expert and sole coordinator for fraternity and sorority life. I have to balance one-on-ones with chapter presidents, council executive board members, the student assistants whom I supervise, other student leaders, and support department-wide programming –all the while considering the long term plan for the fraternity and sorority community.
To prevent myself from feeling overwhelmed, I’ve tackled this new position in two main ways.
The first is based upon reflection for how I want the fraternity and sorority community to be when I leave this position. This isn’t an escape plan designed for me to quickly move on to the next opportunity, but is instead a personal call for urgency that I am hoping drives me in my work (based on Candy Chang’s TED Talk “Before I die I want to…” that I previously reflected on). By determining where I want the community to be when I no longer advise them, it aligns my goals and visions to push myself into building trust, establishing legitimacy, and building the students into community partners who also support my vision.
And if I move the community toward my vision, then I will develop new goals to accomplish before I leave this position in an undetermined future date. Or if I am unable to accomplish my vision, then I know I at least acted urgently as possible to develop the fraternity and sorority community. Regardless of the vision, I want to always act with urgency to best support and challenge the fraternity and sorority students with whom I work.
The second is one I pulled from my internship; I set up projects for myself. I determined the four biggest goals to accomplish based upon timeline and what helps move the community forward from my call to urgency and have listed those out. This helps to provide a sense of direction as well as transforms the size of my position into smaller goals that are more easily accomplished. I’m using a student leadership retreat tactic taught to students: take a vision and break it into smaller manageable goals.
And it’s helping. By focusing on four immediate goals, it establishes a timeline and helps me determine what I should be working on each day. It provides me with different goals to switch to if I become taxed from one project and allows me to focus my energy on another project. The result is that I have short-term planned out my summer before students return from the fall and have the opportunity to add more projects as other objectives are completed. Right now it’s working successfully, so hopefully my motivation maintains itself as the summer days continue.
I will need that; I know once fall commences my motivation will have dissipated and my time management skills will have to be better than they ever have been previously. But for the moment, I’m going to focus on the four projects I have assigned myself and the vision I have for the fraternity and sorority community.
Now all I need to do is to figure out how to survive L.A. traffic.