Of the 10 Tips in this series, this one – stay sane, is my favorite. I’ve subtitled it “Get a Life” because it’s really, really easy to fall into the habit of spending 200% of your life focusing on the application process. You see, the whole thing can make even the most grounded person a bit crazy, so staying sane needs to be a top priority. Furthermore, the process requires a lot of energy: to do it right requires supreme project management skills. It also requires other traits like diplomacy (asking your boss who doesn’t want you to leave to fill out 10 recommendations can be a bit touchy) and discipline (resisting the vortex of the GMAT Club message boards). You need to eat right, get enough sleep and stay balanced.
Get Your Life On
So, you’ve got to get a life. Sure, you’ve got your work life – don’t we all – but then there’s the rest of it. You need to do things you enjoy that have nothing to do with work or school. Like I mentioned in Tip 5, you do want to perform some service… but you also want to do something that clears out your head. I encourage you to do something as far from your regular routine as possible. For example, business school, and probably your work life is really in your head. I suggest getting out of your head by going out of doors, exercise, get back in shape, or do something that is not competitive (for some of you it may be the first time evah!). Do something really different, like take apart a motorcycle engine and try and put it back together, take up the accordion, or fencing, or horseback riding. Use your right brain to get out of your left brain – art comes to mind, but what about creating mashups, or getting lost in ikebana, parkour or rooftop gardening?
Alternatively, you just can make a list of things you like to do when not worrying about work or school. Sure, video games, shopping, going to raves, beach volleyball all count. Why not? You are going to need this handy list once you’ve got the application in and you are going through the interminable and maddening waiting phase. Otherwise, you’ll just end up on the chat boards and drive yourself even crazier.
The funny thing about doing other things is that by going outside of the norm, you actually find creative solutions to those problems you are not supposed to be thinking about. If you are stuck on an essay, leave it alone, go camping, and you may have new insights. It’s an organic process – getting outside of the routine may help reveal some things about yourself that you didn’t even know. (Who knew that you had a talent for making dugout canoes? And what does that say about you?)
Furthermore, having a life may bring more experiences to bear on your application, and may give you some insight into “what is most important to you and why.” You never know who you may meet, and what you will learn at your next beekeepers’ convention.