Guide from the side
By: Katrina Heilmeier
Sometimes in life, we suffer from decision overload, and it can be hard to decide at all. You might know what I am talking about if you have ever been on Amazon looking for the perfect item. There are so many different options, reviews, photos and information that make it hard to decide and purchase.
At BGSU, we understand there are so many options available at our fingertips, making decisions and taking action more challenging than ever. Not to mention how the global pandemic has affected our ability to take action.
That’s why we have implemented Life Design.
In your role, you might ask: How can I empower my student to make decisions for themselves and take action?
First, focus on purpose. Your student might be feeling burnt out from finals or excited about the prospect of not having a strict schedule for the summer – but quickly, that might become mundane. They might want to use the summer as a pause; however, you might want to encourage them to be intentional during the summer.
To help get your student thinking of how they could use this summer to their advantage, try asking:
- What is important to them in their life right now?
- What do they want to explore?
It could be getting a glimpse into a career they are considering or focusing on tools to improve their mental health, or making connections with people. Have them consider the whole picture and all aspects of their well-being when thinking about their purpose this summer.
Second, have fun coming up with ideas! Have your student generate ideas for what they could do to get a step closer to that purpose over the summer. The ideas do not have to all be useable – the goal is to come up with many different ideas and think about what might be delightful and exciting – even if they are not necessarily doable this summer.
Next is the hard part – making decisions and taking action. In Life Design, we encourage students to narrow their options.
I recommend making a summer bucket list of everything your student or your family wants to do this summer. If you have too many options, it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start. Look at the list and identify commonalities. Maybe there are a lot of travel destinations on that list. Consider what you enjoy about traveling and limit your list to one or two of those types of activities.
Have your student reflect on how the ideas serve their purpose for the summer. Do the ideas help address their proposed purpose? Did any new, overarching goals come up? Reflect with them to decide which ideas they can act on.
After their options are narrowed, you can help them make a plan to take action. In Life Design, we say, “Aspirations may motivate you, but only actions will move you.”
Actions do not have to be huge, and the action plan should be manageable, like thinking of ways to take action next week on ideas that spark joy. Set the bar low and clear it.
This process is an excellent example of what we do in Life Design at BGSU. We encourage students to get curious, talk to people, take action and make connections.
Before you know it, the school year will be starting again. Help your student make this summer one they can look back on and be proud!