“Without self-reflection, you live reactively to the environment around you and not proactively from within for the best desired outcome. When you fail to self-reflect, it can cause you to be unsure of why you are doing what you do”
The Strategic Guide to Shaping Your Student Affairs Career by Sonja Ardoin has been an extremely eye-opening book to read as someone who does not have much of a critical understanding of student affairs from a professional (and in a lot of ways personal) point of view. What I have valued most about this book has been the personal stories and reflections from people who have had different experiences and taken various paths but share a connectedness to student affairs. These stories have been essential in terms of forcing me to reflect on my own path and where I hope to go, how I plan to get there, and most importantly – why.
If I am being honest, I am struggling with the why part and it scares me. It scares me so much that I have convinced myself that because I haven’t found my why yet (at least I don’t think I have), then I must not have one. But I am slowly learning that this is not necessarily true. Just because I don’t see it clearly, doesn’t mean it’s not there. I recently spoke to someone who really put my doubts about my path into perspective. It only took the word “exploring” for me to realize that this experience is about embarking on a journey towards that why without the expectation that it will or should be easy.
So, what do I mean when I say that I haven’t found my why yet? Hmm, answering that question has been its own process for me. But I have decided to stop searching for a why and instead focus on what matters to me, what I care most deeply about, and let that guide me to it.
“Strategy is not a straitjacket. It is not intended to be. We do not want to lock ourselves so firmly into a strategy that we leave no room for movement, adaptability, or growth”
After reading this section in chapter three, I quickly wrote the words strategy is not a straitjacket on an orange sticky note and placed it on my desk to serve as a reminder. I am the type of person that is always thinking ahead (whether or not I have a plan is another story!). But I’m noticing the flaws in my forward and futuristic thinking. I haven’t created a strategy for myself. The future can be overwhelming, and for me, not having a clear picture in my mind of where I am going to be seven months from now is daunting. So I have decided to challenge myself to be more active in strategizing a plan for myself beyond this experience. I have also promised myself that I will be more gentle and patient as I move towards my why. After all, I don’t just have seven months to figure it out, I have the rest of my life!
– Jane Kungu