Charles Dickens’ opening lines from A Tale of Two Cities could have been written about my junior year of college. I had everything going for me including several leadership roles on campus, an RA position in a brand-new dorm, and a serious girlfriend. My college was located on a beautiful lakeside campus and I even skied with a nationally ranked water ski team. I had a lot of friends, some engaging professors, and interesting classes. But for some reason, as it got closer and closer to the end of my junior year, I struggled in some of my classes, I began to worry about my future, and I increasingly felt blah – out of sorts.
As soon as the semester ended, I was going to spend an adventure-filled summer with my brother who lived in Northern California. I was really looking forward to that summer and how it would give me a new prespective. However, shortly after arriving in California, my girlfriend broke up with me and I couldn’t find a summer job. All my hopes for that summer seemed to disappear.
As fate would have it, my brother’s former roommate had moved out shortly before I arrived and had left a box of books. Out of boredom one day, I opened the box and on the very top was Dale Carnegie’s – How to Win Friends and Influence People. I needed a friend, so I started reading. The book hooked me. I marked pages. I underlined. I studied the book like I would be tested and I committed to apply the principles during my last year of college.
When I finished that book, I dug deeper into the box and found Dr. David Swartz’s book called The Magic of Thinking Big. I devoured that, as well, and started thinking about setting goals for my professional life ahead. I became a student of professional development that summer reading those books.
While my brother was working, I rode his bike on the trails around Chico where he lived. I started playing ping-pong with one of his friends in the apartment complex. During the weekends we went snow skiing, cross country skiing, camping, white water rafting, and took a 5-day trip to San Francisco. I even found a job working construction.
That summer was one of the best summers of my life and it jumpstarted a smashing senior year of college.
Though the change was slow, the movement from blah and boredom to fulfillment and fun was aided by:
· A change of scenery
· Regular exercise
· Establishing new relationships
· Investing in my personal and professional development.
I was particularly inspired by that last one. In my young life, books like The Power of Positive Thinking, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and The Greatest Salesman in the World made a huge impact on me and helped me navigate through some difficult times.
I read a fascinating article this week in Inc. magazine about reading. Warren Buffet was featured and said that reading was the one mental habit that separates people from the pack.
Life is going to throw us curve balls.
Things aren’t always going to work out in our favor.
We are going to have disappointments.
Relationships are going to cause us pain.
We are going to feel blue.
And there’s always hope and always help. Do your part and get started today. You may even find some answers on the pages of a great book!