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Herzing University

Christine Paul Cardenas

How to Succeed Academically and Professionally

Many of the habits that you learn while in school will be extremely helpful toward your future success and translate well into a professional career.

Christine Paul Cardenas is a graduate of Herzing University. She shares her personal and professional experience of becoming a nurse to help other nursing students discover the best pathway in their nursing journey.

Being accepted into a school and choosing a degree program are huge accomplishments, but these are only the first steps in your educational journey. As you begin to tackle college, the biggest goal is to get good grades, develop strong skills, and complete your degree program. Many of the habits that you learn while in school will be extremely helpful toward your future success and translate well into a professional career. Here are some tips on how to succeed academically and professionally no matter what degree you choose to pursue.

1. Goal Setting

As much as we would like it to, life doesn’t come with an instruction manual. However, you can still set goals and achieve your dreams through hard work and dedication. Set your goals and do what you can to reach them.

One way you can be sure to attain even your biggest dreams is by setting SMART goals. SMART goals stand for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound goals. When you set a SMART goal, you are thinking about more than the outcome. You are holding yourself accountable and committing to specific actions to get what you want. Setting incremental SMART goals will keep you motivated and on track toward your ultimate goal. 

2. Be Patient and Stay Focused

Be patient, do your best, and focus on the process instead of obsessing over results. Even though we would love to have things happen right away, the truth is that success does not happen overnight or according to your schedule. Learn how to wait and grow new skills while pushing forward.

You can learn so much while enjoying the journey. Embrace what you have right now instead of obsessing, worrying, and stressing over outcomes. One of the biggest factors for personal happiness and success is being content in the present moment. Think about how much you have already accomplished and what you can accomplish right now as compared to stressing over things out of your control and far in the future.

3. Accept Your Mistakes

Make some space for making mistakes, because if you are being 100% honest, you know you will make them! Do not be so uptight and hard on yourself. Everybody makes mistakes. Nobody’s perfect. Accept your mistakes and accept all your imperfections. Learn from your own mishaps and shortcomings. Be responsible for your own actions. Improve yourself and become the best version of yourself. Often you can learn more and grow more from the lessons of one failure than you can from 10 successes.

4. Practice Gratitude

Say “thank you” every day in front of a mirror for all the good things in your life. Be grateful for what you’ve achieved so far whether it’s a personal or professional achievement. Not everyone likes every part of their job or their career program, but when you have a positive attitude, it can bring you more happiness in your role. Be thankful for every blessing. Have a list of every little thing you’re thankful for. You may consider practicing journaling on everything you’re grateful for so that you have a tangible record of what you are grateful for.

5. Do Not Procrastinate

Don’t wait until the last minute before you start a project. We all hold off on working on specific projects because we are busy, don’t like the task, or are simply feeling overwhelmed. The key to passing your exams, and classes or getting the job done is preparation. Don’t wait till the last minute to get ready for school or work.

6. Don’t Overdo It

Don’t overwhelm yourself by taking more than what you can handle. Set limits and boundaries. You can work hard without killing yourself for it. Not only is setting boundaries beneficial for limiting our exposure to stress, but it also protects our mental well-being. You don’t have to be an overachiever. Don’t overdo it. Don’t overload yourself with stress. Strike the right balance between too much and too little, and you’ll enter the Goldilocks zone for success and happiness.

7. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

Stop comparing what you are doing and where you are in your career with anyone else. Everybody is different. Do not compare your study schedule to others. What works for you may not work for your peers, colleagues, or classmates. Every person is doing what works best for them so it’s not worth panicking or stressing about when you see their plans, actions or strategies are different from yours. It’s okay. Our visions for the future are different. Our goals are different, and our dreams are also different. Only compare who you are today with who you were yesterday and, above anyone else, be accountable to who you will be tomorrow.

8. Celebrate!

Life is too short to not reflect on the great things you’ve done. Celebrate your winning moments. Celebrate all your victories in life, big or small. Achieving academic, personal, and professional successes are no small feats. Always be proud of what you are doing and what you have accomplished because you are your own definition of incredible. You’ve earned it.

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* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics 2023 / Occupational Outlook Handbook 2022. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.

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