Back to the Future?

Gary Wixom, Assistant Commissioner of CTE, Utah System of Higher Education

Gary Wixom, Assistant Commissioner of CTE, Utah System of Higher Education

Could it be September again already? That means back to school for students and teachers. For most it is an exciting time, for some there is anxiety and some uncertainty. However, the beginning of a new school year gives everyone an opportunity to set their sights on new goals and new achievements.

Research tells us that whatever we do, or whatever we accomplish begins in the mind. We can alter our destiny by altering our thoughts.

We hear a lot in the media these days about how important education is, and we also hear about how education is not measuring up to global standards. What does that mean for us? Can we still be successful? How do we be sure that we are in an educational program that will prepare us for success in the world that we live? The answer to that is Career and Technical Education (CTE).

There are many great educational pathways available to us and CTE is the place to begin the process. We know that individually we can have a big impact on how our experiences turn out. As you begin this school year, make up your mind that it will be the best year that you have had so far.

Research tells us that whatever we do, or whatever we accomplish begins in the mind. We can alter our destiny by altering our thoughts. If we set our minds in a particular direction, the chances are that the rest of our physical and emotional self will follow along. The individual that master’s their mind can accomplish great things.

As we begin the new school year, here are five suggestions for making it successful.

  1.  Begin with a positive attitude. Whenever we begin something new we have the opportunity to take a fresh approach. Old habits can be changed. Old perceptions can be overcome. When we start something fresh we have a chance to be different than who we were in the past, and change to who we would like to become. Remember: What we think, we become. All that we area rises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world. –The Buddha
  2. Be focused. One of the critical elements of being successful is to be focused on the goal. When we have a strong vision of our goal we are more likely to reach the goal. Very often as we strive to reach our goals we get distracted and we lose our focus. There are a lot things in our daily life that will pull us away from what we want to achieve. Being focused means that you will ignore those distractions and keep working toward the goal. Remember: When every physical and mental resource is focused, one’s power to solve a problem multiplies tremendously. –Norman Vincent Peale
  3. Be a good communicator. Learning to be a good communicator is important for success. After learning the basics of communication the best way to become a good communicator is to practice. Be willing to join the discussion and contribute your thoughts and ideas. Your ideas are valuable and sharing them helps everyone. The second part of good communication is good listening. When we are willing to listen to others, not just hear them, we not only help them but we open our own understanding that helps us grow and be more effective. Remember: The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said. –Peter Drucker
  4.  Don’t be afraid of mistakes. We all make mistakes. The problem is not that we make mistakes, but what we think and how we react when it happens. We need to learn from our mistakes and then move on with renewed focus toward our goal. Remember: The only man who makes no mistakes is the man who never does anything. –Theodore Roosevelt
  5.  Be engaged. What you are doing is important, so to be successful be engaged both emotionally and intellectually. Take ownership of where you want to be and then make it happen. There will always be obstacles in your way, but if you are fully engaged in what you want to accomplish you can move them out of the way. Remember: In the present circumstances, no one can afford to assume that someone else will solve their problems. Every individual has a responsibility to help guide our global family in the right direction. Good wishes are not sufficient, we must become actively engaged. –The Dalai Lama

Mastering these five suggestions will help you be successful. A good place to practice these suggestions is in a Career and Technical Education course. Investigate the many pathways that are available to you by checking out, and Set your goals for the future and then make it happen. There is nothing stopping you—but you.

Gary Wixom is the Assistant Commissioner of CTE for the Utah System of Higher Education. This post was originally published on the blog. Find out more information about career and technical education on Follow UtahCTE on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Read more from the CTE Directions Newsletter and sign up to receive a copy each month here.

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1 comment to Back to the Future?

  • It’s true – skills gaps are emerging throughout the American economy, and businesses aren’t able to find the workers they need to operate well. It’s a growing problem, and we all have a hand in solving it.

    The Industry Workforce Needs Council was recently formed to spotlight these emerging gaps and advocate for career and technical education (CTE) as a means of bridging them. The CTE umbrella has expanded significantly in recent years – it’s not just about shop class and home economics anymore. And the careers it can help train students for are exactly the ones where gaps are being found – trades, IT and beyond. Along the way, CTE has proven to boost student achievement and long-term success.

    For more information on the IWNC, to use it as a resource or to get involved, visit

    Jason Sprenger, for the IWNC