When I started grad school my goal was to get straight As through the whole thing. Having solidly missed that goal after the first semester, my plan was vaguely to just ‘do the best I could.’ That’s still my aim, but I’ll add that the updated goal is to succeed in grad school while also being happy.
Actually, it would just be this:
Happiness > Stress
It’s a work in progress. I sometimes consider what I want/need, and some of it’s just not possible. For instance, it would be great if my immediate family and closest friends were geographically closer. But they’re not, and I can’t change that.
However, there are other things! Giving myself breaks (from schoolwork) helps, but maybe not always as much as I think it does. I’m learning that I need to do other things besides school, not just take breaks from school. Softball was one of those things, and also a way to be social. Now that the season’s over, I’ll (hopefully) still spend time with the team occasionally, but we won’t have regular games. I’m trying to add in a few other activities, so that I have many sources of happiness outside of school. Here’s my current list.
- Reading books for fun. I just finished one that I’ll add to my booklist later, and I have two more lined up to start.
- Running. I’ve been three times in the past two weeks, which still isn’t a lot but is more than usual. My goal is to get up to 2-3x per week consistently.
- Scola choir. This is great because I get to be with people, sing, and have a daily Mass that I’m committed to going to once a week.
- French. When Kevan started learning French on DuoLingo I went back to it too, but now it’s been a long time since I’ve been on it. I did a few lessons today and a few lessons yesterday, and just that little bit of progress on another interest has felt really good.
- Generally committing to more social activities. This one will take the most work on my part, because as much as I need more friendship/social interaction, my inclination at the end of the day tends to be to hide in my room.
Perhaps you’ve already seen the illustration on the left, and of course I was pleased to find the modified version on the right which describes graduate school. As funny as this is, it’s not correct. If I dropped everything besides my thesis, I wouldn’t end up with a more timely submission, I would end up unhappy and burnt out. Whenever I sacrifice sleep or interests or friendships, I don’t have “more time” because my performance is so much lower that it takes me longer to make any progress on academic work.
Ultimately, I do better in grad school when I pursue other interests and activities because I come back to work refreshed and in a healthy state of mind. Plus, I’ll come out of grad school with strong friendships and maybe even other skills in addition to that degree. So that’s my real grad school goal.