Soft Skills for Academic and Career Success Part 3: Focus on Results is the final article in aÂ three-part series targeting high school and college students and providing insight into key skillsÂ needed for academic and career success. Soft skills are presented within a framework ofÂ Readiness, Relationships, and Results in this article series.
To be successful in your education and career, be future-oriented and produce Results.Â Understand that producing Results is not the same as being busy. Many people are busy all theÂ time but do not produce anything valuable. To produce Results, you must know where you areÂ going, focus on your priorities, solve problems, and be accountable.
1. Know Where You Are Going
Knowing where you are going means that you know what is important to you and that you setÂ goals aligned with your values. If you donâ€™t know what is important, you waste time on trivialÂ activities. You might be busy, but you wonâ€™t be productive.
Anchoring your goals to your values is the key to achieving meaningful goals. Students whoÂ value their education and see it as integral to a successful life will keep working hard andÂ moving forward even when classes and assignment become increasingly difficult.
Make a list of your values and map your current activities and goals to your values. Minimize orÂ eliminate activities that donâ€™t align with your values, and refine your goals as needed.
Once your goals are aligned with your values, prioritize your time and focus your effort toÂ achieve those goals. Understand that not everything is important and that wasting time onÂ unimportant activities prevents you from making progress on your priorities. Protect your timeÂ from urgent but unimportant activities, and donâ€™t let someone elseâ€™s priorities knock you off-course.
As a student, your academic priorities include honing your academic success skills, attendingÂ and actively participating in class, completing assignments to the best of your ability, and askingÂ questions when you donâ€™t understand. Participation in student organizations and volunteerÂ activities also is important. Manage your time so that these activities enhance your class workÂ but do not take priority over it.
3. Solve Problems
Problem solving is a highly valued skill, and successful people proactively solve problems. It hasÂ been said that once you have defined a problem, you have it half-solved. Effective problemÂ solvers ask lots of questions, understand the real issue to be addressed, and are committed toÂ finding solutions.
Here is a simple six-step process that can serve as a framework for you as you tackle problemÂ solving:
- Identify the problem.
- Determine the underlying cause of the problem.
- Determine possible solutions.
- Select a solution.
- Implement the solution.
- Assess the solution.
4. Be Accountable
Accountability refers to personal responsibility. Accountability requires you to takeÂ responsibility for your behavior, attitude, and mistakes. Accountability requires you to takeÂ responsibility for your performance. Accountability requires you to consistently put forth yourÂ best effort and produce high quality results, even when working on tasks that are not enjoyable.
Consistently putting forth your best effort is difficult, but the outcomes can be significant. IÂ challenge you to consistently put forth your best effort and strive to exceed expectations.Â Consider the fact that you will compete with highly qualified students for scholarships, awards,Â internships, and jobs. Students who exceed expectations stand out as exceptional in this highlyÂ competitive environment.
Gain a deeper understanding of these and other components of Results by reading LeadershipÂ and Soft Skills for Students: Empowered to Succeed in High School, College, and Beyond. ThisÂ book contains practical advice and hands-on exercises to equip you with skills needed forÂ academic and career success.
Cary J. Green, PhD recently founded Leadership and Soft Skills Training. Prior to starting hisÂ own business, Green spent twenty years teaching, advising, mentoring, and supervisingÂ university students. He also spent ten years in leadership positions in higher education. He taughtÂ leadership and academic success courses, and mentored student leadership developmentÂ organizations. Please visit Leadership and Soft SkillsÂ for free resources and moreÂ information on Greenâ€™s books and personalized coaching.