Shifting your Mindset, Part 2: Redefining Goals
Shifting your Mindset, Part 2: Redefining Goals
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Shifting your Mindset: Redefining Goals
In the second installment of the series Shifting Your Mindset: Productivity & Mental Health, I will be sharing what I have learned about setting goals and boundaries. I have found that when I set healthy boundaries with workload and personal life, I feel less stressed. It can be easier to concentrate on what is most important to both my short and long-term goals. This particular piece is a breakdown of possible scenarios you may find yourself in and possible solutions that could apply. I hope you are able to find something that benefits you!
You can set goals to work for you. You could have a goal of graduating high school or college, securing an internship, stabilizing your mental health, or even being a good friend or sibling. Or maybe your goal is landing a job that fulfills you, expressing yourself freely, or anything that feels like success in your life.
As a 21-year old, my goals include graduating college and feeling fulfilled with my major of choice. My current definition of success includes finding a career path that I will not only excel in, but find happiness and fulfillment in, too. I’ve learned that personal goals and success may look different for everyone. You can always re-evaluate and adjust your goals as you grow. What was important to you in the past may not be the same for your present. You are always within your right to change your mind at any point in your life, no matter how far you have come. Regardless of how you define your own success, it is important to remember that goals are stepping stones rather than finish lines. Our goals and definitions of success can (and probably should) change as we grow older and gain more life experience.
Goal setting when you don’t know what is important to you
If you don’t know where you want to end up later on, it can be pretty difficult to determine what steps you should take now. As a result, you may find yourself readily volunteering your time, mental space and even personal resources to help others or to test the waters yourself. There is nothing wrong with this! Volunteering or being paid for a task, even if you aren’t sure you’re interested in it, is OK. Experience is experience, and you may discover something you enjoy along the way!
If you don’t know what’s important to you, try creating a mental or even written representation of what you experience in your day to day. Don’t like something you're participating in? Consider removing it from your responsibilities! Discovering what you are not interested in can be just as valuable as knowing what you are interested in. As you discover more of what you do and do not like, add these to your list of interests to pursue and avoid. Congratulations, you’re on your way!
Goal setting when you have an idea of what is important to you
The simple question is this: why is this important to you? Specifically, what is important to you right now that may also be important to you in the near or distant future? Keep in mind that what you are focusing your energy on now does not have to be what you spend your life doing. Whether you are in high school or college, you can always reassess your values and aspirations. If you enjoy cars, perhaps helping out a friend with their car or even volunteering at a mechanic’s shop can help you to discern what part of this hobby interests you and what you find value in. If you are interested in Psychology, you may find it helpful to seek out a teacher’s assistant position, or even tutor in classes that you excelled in.
Keep in mind that while those around you may have a strong understanding of their interests, at one point they were just like you: figuring it all out, one step at a time. There truly is no need to rush to the finish line when it comes to identifying your interests. You can take as long as needed and even come back to something you had initially dismissed. Our interests are ever-changing and you may surprise yourself with where you end up.
For both this scenario and the “I don’t know what is important to me,” scenario, I remind you of this: do not allow the pressures of our society to make you feel like you have to stick to something just because it may be an easy way to make money or to make a life. You can and should build your life as you dream it to be.
Rather than trying to do it all at once to discover what you're interested in, consider focusing your attention on 1-2 endeavors at a time. Take your time to explore your interests, then pursue what makes the most sense to you personally. You can always change your mind, rearrange your values and try something new!
Goal setting when you know what is important to you
Being aware of what is important to you is a great way to organize both short-term and long-term goals. By knowing what is important to you, you can begin narrowing down a focused plan to reaching your goals and getting to where you want to be in your life. However, a possible issue you may run into is overcommitting yourself to responsibilities. (I have done this more times than I can count!) It is common to feel overwhelmed, especially if you have several passions and interests.
Some things to keep in mind are:
- How will completing this task or reaching this goal make you a better person in the long run, or bring you closer to where you want to end up in the future?
- What is your end-goal?
- How does this goal fit into other goals you may have?
- How does this interest connect to what you want for yourself, without worrying about what others may think?
These are all questions I have asked myself while figuring out how I can identify ways to connect what is important to me to what I eventually want to spend time focusing on in school and after graduation.
Discovering what is important to you and sparks your interest can be helpful in identifying different ways to integrate your passions and values into your life in a meaningful way. Regardless of whether you want to pursue interests such as art, design and media, mechanics, activism, or anything else you might like, understanding what you care about and how you can connect it to your life is incredibly valuable.
If you find yourself connecting to one of these scenarios, you are not alone! Anyone who has gotten to where they wanted to be in life had to begin by asking themselves one simple question: what is important to me? Once you know what is important to you, you can create short-term and long-term goals to help you get to where you want to be in life. The stress often lies in the unknown or when you know what you care about, but don’t know how to pursue it effectively. By using one of these tips, you may feel more at ease and have a more thoughtful approach to setting and reaching goals.
We all have different values and aspirations in our lives. When you know what is important to you, you can better envision goals for your life and the steps needed to get you there. Identifying those goals can help you plan the necessary steps to becoming the individual you aim to be. That being said, there is a difference between reaching your goals and being successful, and this varies for everyone. You may have smaller goals serving as stepping stones along the way to becoming your successful self. In truth, there is no one-size-fits-all for being successful, despite how society may try to convince you otherwise. What works for some may not work for others, and that is okay!