Designing Your Life Part 2

By Shekeitha L. Jeffries, Assistant Director of Student Life

In the previous post, we discussed dysfunctional beliefs that may hinder personal growth.  Below are five design thinking ideas from the TEDx Talk on Designing Your Life, that will help increase your self-efficacy as you move forward in the design thinking process.

  • IDEA #1: CONNECTING THE DOTS – To live a life that is meaningful and purposeful, you must know who you are, what you believe and what you do in the world.  To begin connecting the dots, examine your life-view and your work-view.  Your life-view is your understanding of the world and the ultimate reason why you’re here. Your work-view, goes beyond what you want out of work – it’s your definition, of what good work should entail. If you’re able to make a connection between these two views and create a coherent story, you may begin to experience a more meaningful life.
  • IDEA #2: GRAVITY & ACCEPT Gravity problems are circumstances we experience yet cannot change.  To live a meaningful life, we must accept this reality, have an open mindset and be willing to focus on problems that we can actually solve.  
  • IDEA #3: HOW MANY LIVES ARE YOU?  –  In his design thinking courses, Professor Burnett does a thought experiment with his students, and asks them imagine to themselves living in multiple, parallel universes.  At the end of the experiment, his students realize that they have more than one life– or interests that they want to explore. In order for us to discover our many lives, we must create an odyssey plan to explore alternative lives. 
  • IDEA #4: PROTOTYPING – In the design thinking process, you will generate ideas to help you move forward. However, to be successful, you must build a protype of your ideal life. Protyping allows you to test out your ideas, when you aren’t sure about what you really want. You can protype your ideal life, by talking to someone who is doing what you want to do or by actually doing what you want to do.
  • IDEA #5: CHOOSING WELL –  Determining which option to choose can be difficult because of fear of making the wrong decision or FOMO. According to Professor Burnett, if you make decisions reversible, your chances of being happy goes down about 60%-70%.  The process of choosing well requires that you: gather and create options to explore; narrow down your options to lists that you can work with; make a choice; then let go and then move on – it’s that simple!  Stand by your choice and make your decision irreversible. 

Take a few minutes to reflect upon the principle that you want to implement today.  How will this principle help improve your life? We will conclude the design thinking series, by creating an odyssey plan: a five-year plan that will explore alternative paths you can realistically pursue to design the life you want.

Stay Calm Under Pressure

By Jessica Harrington, Director of Student Life

To experience peace does not mean that your life is always blissful. It means that you are capable of tapping into a blissful state of mind amidst the normal chaos of a hectic life.  

Jill Bolte Taylor

Whether preparing for finals, oral exams, comps, finishing your thesis/dissertation, or just experiencing the tests of life, this week we offer a brief reminder to remain calm. Tests and deadlines often create a sense of internal questioning and panic. If this is true for you (you’re not alone), and calm is one option for responding to the panic (not always easy!).  Here are some suggestions to encourage a sense of calmness today:

  1. Take a listen to this 10 minute meditation specifically for exam preparation/success. I found the narrator’s voice quite soothing. Also here’s a link to study music (also something I’ve found useful while needing to focus).
  2. Here are 31 Five-Second Reminders that Will Make Calmness Your Superpower . The first tip alone is an inspiring reminder: “Calmness begins the moment you take a deep breath and choose not to allow another person or event to control your thoughts.”
  3. Try the Premium Calm App (for JHU) for free. Available to all JHU students, faculty, and staff, the app includes meditation and breathing exercises, sleep stories, and relaxing nature sounds. There is also content specifically designed for college students. Unlock your Calm subscription

Designing Your Life Part 1

By: Shekeitha L. Jeffries, Assistant Director of Student Life

Three Part Series: 1 of 3

In 2017, Stanford University professor and author, Bill Burnett presented a TEDx Talk, on how he helps scholars design their lives using the technique of design thinking. Design thinking can help you design and create a lifestyle that is meaningful as well as fulfilling. As a student at JHSPH, you have the ability to design your life by maximizing all opportunities and resources that the School has to offer! To begin the design thinking process, be willing to have an open mindset, try something that has never been done before, and confront dysfunctional beliefs.

Dysfunctional beliefs can hinder you from working toward your personal and professional career goals. Here are few mentioned in the TedXtalk:

  • Dysfunctional Belief  #1: You can only be passionate about one thing. According to a Stanford study, less than 20% of people have one identifiable passion in their lives. This study found that eight out of ten people have multiple interests (passions).  In design thinking, passion is not an organizing principle for your search or your design. If you have several things that you are passionate about, you can pursue them all – by designing a plan to help you execute your ideas into motion.
  • Dysfunctional Belief  #2: You should know where you’re going by now and how to get there. You may have family and friends who have unrealistic expectations for you. According to Professor Burnett, people must be accepted for who they are, and should not be expected to have certain things by a particular age or designated time. They believe that anyone can start designing the life they want, from where they are.
  • Dysfunctional Belief  #3: Be the best version of you! This belief implies that there is one singular best. However, there are many versions of a person. For example, although you are a graduate student, you may be an executive at a large company, a parent, or a sibling. No matter which hat you wear at a given time, there’s only one you, and you are truly the best.

Are there cultural or societal ideologies that you believe are hindrances? Take a few moments to reflect upon these beliefs, write them down, and then commit to moving forward. In part two of this series, I will share five design thinking strategies from Dr. Burnett to help empower you in designing your life on your own terms.

Impostor Phenomenon Part 1

How to Manage Impostor Phenomenon (IP) Feelings in Grad School
By Paul Delgado, Graduate Program Assistant

Do you ever feel like you’re tricking everyone around you and in reality you don’t belong in a particular space? You’re not alone and you’re definitely not the only one feeling like this!

The impostor phenomenon (also known as the impostor syndrome) was first identified in 1978 by psychologists Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes. They described it as a common feeling among high achievers unable to internalize and accept their success. In most cases, they attribute their accomplishments to luck or good timing rather than their ability to succeed. Although it’s not an actual disorder, it’s based on a very specific form of intellectual self-doubt.

In my case, I remember when I first joined the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. I felt like it was probably a mistake on behalf of the admissions committee. Although I had the credentials and the training that got me that acceptance, I felt like they would sooner than later discover that I was a fraud and that I didn’t actually deserve a spot in my program. I had just been lucky enough to get in or maybe it was just the result of affirmative action.

Was I wrong for feeling like that? Maybe not. Do I still feel like that? Sometimes. Although those thoughts have not completely gone away, I continue to remind myself that I do belong in the space and I am not here by accident.

Impostor syndrome [phenomenon] will have you questioning your place in the spaces that you prayed about being in. It’s a lie. You’re capable. You’re allowed to learn. You belong.

Navigating Impostor Phenomenon in Grad School

We have five tips to help grad students navigate IP. The first two are below and part two will cover the rest.

1. Recognize the problem exists

Awareness is the first step to change. Recognize when you’re feeling like an impostor and what situations trigger those thoughts. Many of us go through that phase when starting a new phase of our careers. The key is to not let those feelings control your actions. Everyone says, “Fake it till you make it!” But is pretending that everything is okay the same as things actually being okay?

You may not be able to overcome the problem without talking to someone about it. Talk to your mentors and people you trust. Graduate school is challenging and you want to have a strong support system. You will soon find out that these feelings are common among academic scholars and many people experience moments of doubt.

2. Own your own successes

You know how much work, commitment, and consistency you have done over the years to get to where you are. Although you may have had mentors along the way, take pride in your achievements and learn to celebrate all wins.

You can do this by creating a success log where you write down things that made you feel accomplished at the end of the day or the week.

Remember you are here for a reason. You were chosen for a reason. You are better than you think you are. You know more than you give yourself credit for. You belong here. Remember that. If you need to talk through issues related to IP, contact us in the Office of Student Life. We are here for you!

Take Control of Your Time

By Jessica Harrington, Director of Student Life

Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.

Saint/Mother Teresa

During first term, students often feel overwhelmed by the amount of important items they must complete within a very limited amount of time.  Regardless of degree program, time management is a hurdle most will encounter at some point in the academic year.  Here are some tips to encourage you to take control of your time: 

  1. First recognize it’s YOUR time and you have the power to choose how you will use it!
  2. Most of us don’t have time management issue but a procrastination issue. The Procrastination Cure, by Jeffrey Combs (2011), is available through our online library system.  The author poses that there are several kinds of procrastinators. Your solution may depend on what kind (or kinds) of procrastinator you are (I identified with a few!).
  3. Click the link to download a Weekly Schedule Template to record your actual activities for one week. As the next week begins, review how you spent your time and adjust accordingly.Reflect on the following: 
    • What is my desired outcome?
    • What is my destined outcome if I don’t manage my time differently?
    • What is important to me? Does my time reflect what is most important to me?
    • Am I managing my time in a way that helps me stay healthy?

Time management doesn’t come naturally for all (most!) of us, but with effort and determination, we may actually experience a more balanced sense of well-being. Keep working at it!