Today, I thought I’d try to bring you a different sort of post – a more introspective, less practical one. I’m starting a new semester this week, and it has already been sparking some deeper reflection for me. That reflection has mostly been about setting goals.
In a class we had yesterday, our teacher started by sharing with us a passage from “Alice in Wonderland” (a story I love, by the way):
“Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don’t much care where.
The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.
Alice: …So long as I get somewhere.
The Cheshire Cat: Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.”
We then had to find a meaning within these words, whether or not it had to do with Psychology. In a class of over 50 people, of course many different perspectives came to light. But for me, personally, at that moment, this quote was about setting goals. The Cat’s unwillingness to give Alice an answer is basically life’s attitude towards us: nothing concrete is going to happen unless we know where we want to go. Will we get somewhere? Sure, as long as we walk long enough. Will that be a place where we want to be? We can’t know for sure.
Elaborating a bit on this, maybe setting goals isn’t crucial for every single area of our lives – and setting too strict or too demanding goals is definitely counterproductive and a great source of anxiety, let’s not forget that. But having flexible, achievable, and somewhat concrete goals can benefit us and our lives immensely!
For one: it’s far easier to keep up your motivation and energy when you have specific goals. When what you want to accomplish isn’t too vague or too large, it starts feeling achievable and that spikes your motivation to get things done! On the other hand, you need to know where you want to go to know what path you should take – meaning, to plan the best strategy for your current situation, you should know where you are and where you would like to be. Then, it’s just about connecting the dots and breaking the process down in reasonable steps. Take notes, you guys, this is how you get yourself a life plan! 😉
Finally, a word on achievement: it’s important to not rely on one thing or one achievement to define your entire life or identity. That’s a dangerous attitude to have, because setbacks happen and, trust me, life won’t work out exactly how you planned it the whole time. That is the main reason why you should be flexible – when life pulls one of its pranks or things just won’t go your way, you need to be able to shift quickly to plan B, without shutting down and feeling like your entire identity has been shaken up. This is vital for your mental health (guys, I’m studying Psychology, I know what I’m talking about! 😉 ).
I also think that not summing yourself up in quantifiable goals or measures is crucial for your self esteem (never, ever, EVER base your self-worth on grades, people, NEVER!). You need to remember you bring so many non-quantifiable qualities to the table, that you are a whole person and that life, itself, isn’t quantifiable (no matter how much social or exact sciences like to pretend it is)!
That said, dear readers, if you want to get somewhere in life… choose where you want to go. Then choose the best personal path for you to get there. Always be open to change, but don’t lose sight of your end goal (unless, after some thought, you decide that another end goal would be better for you). Don’t expect the Cheshire Cat to tell you what to decide – he won’t! Make pondered decisions for yourself and your life, based on what YOU want! This is your life, and you should decide for yourself, not others.