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Four Years at the Mount

Sophomore year

Looking Ahead - Lessons Learned

Kyle Ott
MSM Class of 2015

(2/2013) Returning to campus after break is always a bittersweet experience colored by the sadness of leaving the sphere of safety and comfort that comes along with being home. It comes with returning to trees struck bare by the cold and quietly missing the presence of family and friends that surrounded you for the past month. However, this melancholy is always accompanied by a sense of frenetic excitement that permeates the air. This vibrant sense of being seems to go along with every activity. Itís present when roommates reunite after a long absence, when friends help each other unpack all the items and experiences they brought with them from home, and when students discuss the new and exciting classes to take and people from which to learn. Everywhere you look, there is a feeling that anything and everything is possible and that a new beginning is poised to leap into our lives at any moment.

It is that second feeling that has captured my imagination and my very sense of being now that I am back home on the mountain, with my friends, my teachers, and the residents in my hall. With the semester beginning, I have decided to take full advantage of the clean slate that I have been given and work on some of the things that have been setting me back both as a student and as a person.

For several years now, I have struggled with being organized. Yes, I know it sounds like a humorous, almost comical issue to have, but for years I have been the poster child for procrastinators everywhere. If there was a project to be done, it was a safe bet that I would do it at the last minute. If there was a meeting that had to be attended for one important reason or another, then I was the guy who showed up five minutes late at the very least. Although the problem improved my first year here at Mount St. Maryís University, there are still moments when I am forced to work really hard and quickly because I have forgotten a vital detail or important assignment. As we return to campus and the next chapter of my life begins, I would like the pages to tell of my complete organizational 180-degree switch, how one young man slew the mighty dragon that has been dominating over him for years.

This year I have come prepared to wage my battle against a lack of organization or go down trying. As the great philosopher Aristotle once said, "Habit leads us to the good," and in addition to my responsibilities as a columnist for the Emmitsburg News-Journal, a full-time student, and a Resident Assistant, I have embarked on a habit-building regimen to help me in my quest. As I have progressed (and to my great surprise, improved markedly), Iíve realized that there are a few small principles that can help one lead to a better tomorrow and seize the new beginning that everyone deserves. So, I submit for your consideration a few lessons from a formerly disorganized person:

1. Itís All About the Little Things

I thought I was going to have to grit my teeth and deal with this habitual disorganization. Then I received a gift from my parents in the form of a small personal planner. This planner was a gift from my mom and dad when I had started college; the planner had collected dust on my shelf for several months before I finally decided that enough was enough and that I was going to try and use it, if for no other reason than to quiet my parentsí nagging. For two weeks I carried that little book around to each of my classes, using a different colored pen for meetings, homework, and projects. Within a few days I saw improvement; I was less stressed, I forgot less, and most of all I had something that gave me just a little peace of mind. It wasnít elaborate or expensive and it did not take a ton of time. All it took was a few minutes each day and some colored pens.

When we face a problem, especially one that seems to permeate every aspect of our lives, it can be incredibly easy to lose ourselves in overly complicated solutions and ornate plans. However, the path to change is often the simplest, the one most easily missed, but most effective.

2. Make a Plan and Stick to It

The most effective part of my plan was that every single day I would do the same thing over and over again without fail. When I went to bed at night, my keys and wallet were always put in the exact same place. When someone told me about an important upcoming event, I would immediately write it down in my calendar with a description, time, and location of whatever I had to do. Then I started to do it for everything, not just events. When I had homework do later in the week or a reading for a class, it went to the calendar, even something as little as spending time with friends or going to lunch found its way to the large parchment on my desk.

At first it was tedious and obnoxious having to stop whatever I was doing to write down all the things that I thought were going to be easy to remember, but as I continued to follow my routine it became second nature and without realizing it, the habits that I formed turned into my own nature. A wise man once said, "Small strokes fell mighty oaks," and this adage holds completely true.

3. Never, Never, Never Give Up

Clichť as it may seem, there is no substitute for genuine persistence. If I had decided to stop my journey of self-improvement after my first time failing, I guarantee I would not be where I am today. There isnít any hidden secret to this concept. Itís the idea that when everything gets hard, you respond by throwing your weight behind the task at hand. Many times I considered giving up my quest for self-improvement, but there is no achievement without the blood, sweat, and tears. Since I kept going, I have been able to not only improve but also achieve my goals.

In summary, this year I can honestly look forward to a chance to continue to succeed at my goals and to reap the benefits of the lessons that I have learned. In these months of rebirth, we all have something to look forward to and perhaps that can be a positive change in your life. Iím Kyle Ott; wonít you sit and read for a while?

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