On not always achieving your goals…
This year’s been a weird one, right? Between the waves of confusion and loneliness that have seemed to come and go this year, it is very possible that somewhere along the way we may have dropped the ball.
Failure can be a scary word. And sometimes when we set ourselves goals that we don’t achieve, it can feel like we have failed. But “failure” is a word we shouldn’t fear as it is only in holding ourselves to standards beyond our comfort zone that we even have the opportunity to fail.
Learning to reframe “failure”, will not only allow us to keep dreaming bigger, but is critical in a life that will inevitably encounter moments of disappointment.
These are some tips for the moments when you feel that you haven’t reached the goals you had set out for yourself – whether on one assignment, one module or even one year. I hope these reminders encourage you to treat yourself with kindness and understanding this exam season.
- Manage your expectations
Being flexible with your expectations does not have to mean that you are turning your back on ambition. It rather means that your goals should be in line with the best you can do in a specific time frame, rather than the best someone else can do or an arbitrary number that society has deemed “good enough”.
Disappointment comes from having expectations that exceed the reality, and whilst our goals should be limitless, we need to break them down into realistic steps!
- Focus on the process not the outcome
Be aware and accepting of what you can and can’t change. If you’re disappointed with a mark that you have got back on an assignment, whilst you can’t undo this, you can use the opportunity to go through your mistakes and have a better go at the topic when the exam comes around.
What is done is done; look forward and invest your energy into the process in adopting a growth mind-set.
- Ask yourself: what is something I have achieved that I once dreamed of?
We are always focusing on the next thing. But look around you. What is something you have achieved that you are proud of? Let this be a reminder that you are not a failure, and a bump in the road does not erase your achievements up to here.
- Face what you’re feeling
Nowadays it’s so easy to distract ourselves from life’s more negative emotions. As soon as things get difficult, we reach for our phones – we silence our own issues under the noise of other people’s problems, stories and news.
In moments when you’re feeling low or disappointed, let yourself be unproductive, let yourself be sad; however, take the time and awareness to process how you are feeling in order to move on.
- Remember that life comes in seasons.
It has been a difficult year. And if you are not currently your most productive and best self – that’s okay. It’s more than okay, it’s understandable and unsurprising!
How you’re feeling now, is not how you will feel forever. There are better seasons to come.
I encourage every one of you to push yourself to do your very best, however, the price of your mental health is a price that is too high to pay. So, if you find yourself falling into a cycle of self-criticism and disappointment, take the time to take a step back.
Even if at this moment in time it may not feel like it, life is filled with much more important things than grades. Above all else this exam season, be kind to yourselves and those around you.
Best of luck!