Park Perspectives: Finding balance and setting goals

By: aea79
Photo of Matt and two others standing outside of Tesla in a parking lot
Matt visited the Tesla factory as part of the SGE/Energy Club trek to San Francisco.

By Matt Pundmann, Two-Year MBA ’19

Park Perspectives are authored by Johnson’s Park Leadership Fellows.

My first goal coming into Johnson was to “find a balance.” I had no idea what that meant, but after four years in the world of management consulting, and all of the travel, late nights, and take-out meals that go along with it, I needed a change of pace. For me “balance” initially required a complete reversal of my previous life—cooking the majority of my meals at home, working out more than five days a week, getting more consistent sleep, and, most importantly, being more present and engaged in non-academic activities.

Old habits die hard

Like any good overachieving MBA student, I thought these changes would be instantaneous and that by now—one semester into my MBA experience—I would be a triathlete-gourmet-chef with a repository of new experiences under my belt. Obviously, the end-state is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but I really did believe, and hope, that I would be able to accomplish the goals that I established before I got to Johnson. Unsurprisingly to everyone but to me, it seems; old habits die hard. Thus far I have probably focused too much on concrete accomplishments that I can put on my resume (for example, grades and case competitions), too little on my health, and I could always spend more time with my incredible classmates (because when are you ever going to be surrounded by such an incredibly diverse and interesting crew again).

A change in priorities

While it would be easy to be disappointed in not accomplishing a goal, I have noticed a discernible and important difference in my priorities and my approach toward decisions. On four distinct occasions during the semester I had discussions with separate classmates about our balance between academics, recruiting, personal health, social engagement, and what “doing better” actually meant. Additionally, I noticed the increased prevalence of the fun voice of reason in my head—come on we all have them—consistently advocating for me to turn off my computer to go grab a beer with a friend, to work out, or to just cook a nice meal for myself. I know this makes me sound as if I had no fun before, but the reality is that this voice was much more of a switch, only turning on when my work schedule could accommodate it.

Photo of Matt standing in front of a waterfall
Photo of a gorge and stream

Taking time to enjoy nature in Ithaca

Finding what balance means to me

Seeing the value in the progress toward accomplishing my goals goes all the way back to my first week here at Johnson. One of the first lessons in our Leading Teams course was about the value and positive ramifications of setting measurable and aggressive goals—particularly ones that have no external dependencies or metrics. While I did not work out as much as I would like, had a few too many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and turned down a couple Tuesday night shindigs, I am actively defining and finding what balance means to me. With that lesson in mind and the progress made thus far in tow, I established new goals for the spring semester:

  1. Engage in one non-class or club sustainability-related activity a week (pursuing a career in sustainability is why I am here after all!)
  2. Work out five days a week
  3. Schedule seven or more hours of sleep four days a week
  4. Attend one Sunday through Wednesday social activity a week

Feel free to check-in with me in May to find out how I did!

Learn more about the Park Leadership Fellows program

About Matt Pundmann, Two-Year MBA ’19

Matt Pundmann, MBA ’19

Previous Academic Institution: University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
Previous Employer: Deloitte Consulting
Interests: Sustainability & global enterprise, data, cities, local craft beer