Troubles are both resident and transitional.  Nothing is ever exactly perfect and the things that cause worry or irritation are always changing.  As soon as we fix one problem, another, smaller or larger, less or more impacting, comes along.  

So what does a student do when the trouble he or she faces is overwhelming and affecting studies?  

Punch the dough, or if you are offended by the word “punch”, refold.  

Okay, what does that even mean?  Briefly, when bakers make bread dough, they add yeast that metabolizes the simple sugar of the starch molecules which in turn produces carbon dioxide and alcohol.  The gases cause the bread to rise, creating holes in the dough. We punch, folding the dough back on to itself so the yeast and air are redistributed, resulting in a finer grain of bread, better form, and better taste.  

So how does this apply to troubles when you’re a student?  The troubles that affect students are like the gas bubbles in the bread, creating holes and leaving gaps in your studies, often reflecting on learning, attendance, and even hindering your vision and goals.  Ignoring the problems allow them to grow and manifest into more complex issues that can derail you. In other words, you can go through school and come out half-baked.  

The first step is to identify what is affecting your success at school.  Transportation, day care, and relationship issues are all factors that greatly impact students.  Sometimes the issues are so involved that it’s hard to figure out which one is the catalyst.  Go ahead and write them out, one by one.  That’s our first punch. 

Second, look at your list and decide which of the factors you and only you can take an action to change.  This is important because you cannot make other people change or take action, only yourself.  Your action might be asking another student for a ride, talking to family about day care, or putting a relationship on hold.  It might be deciding that you will not let the words of another person hurt you.  Or it may be that you realize you can’t change someone else or a circumstance, but you can change your perspective and what you do going forward so that you can reach your goals.  Punch number two. 

Third, write out your action plan of solutions – the things YOU will do, not what other people may do.  We do this because when we write it out, we see the action we need to take and when we accomplish it, we can cross it off.  Having that plan in writing helps us when emotions threaten to divert and overcome us.  Some actions are more difficult than others, and sometimes we have to revise as more obstacles and circumstances pile on. It’s okay. We are still punching out the troubles because we are identifying them, thinking about our own role in what to do, making a plan, even it isn’t always the one that works the first time. Add another punch here.

Lastly, and this is both important and uncomfortable for some yet greatly fosters success, is sharing your plan with a trusted adviser and checking in to discuss your progress.  A student counselor, professor, or coach can be your accountability partner in this.  We all need to be accountable for what we do, at home, school, and work.  It’s our ownership of ourselves, and the final punch to working through troubles.  

Each time we punch our way through a problem as a student, we are honing our life and career skills, creating a finer perspective and ability to manage our future, forming ourselves as owners of who and what we are, now and later.

Troubles will always be around, but the heady aroma of your fully baked success is just a punch away.