Student Perspective Article
Did you know that we’re all storytellers? I don’t mean science-fiction or fairy tales. I’m talking about our stories, the ones we tell ourselves every day about what we can and can’t do, what we like and don’t like, how we feel, and what we are. Our stories are powerful—they literally determine the journey we take to achieve (or miss) our goals.
How can we make our stories work for us, to get the most out of this journey?
When we set a goal for ourselves, we start out with a lot of motivation and hope. We want to succeed, and we believe that we can. Then, along the way, we get discouraged, sidetracked, and, the next thing you know, we’ve wound up far from our goal with little hope or motivation left to continue.
Why does this happen?
First, we stop paying attention to the journey. Along the way we notice when we’ve made the first mistake, taken the first “cheat” day, skipped the first gym session, etc. After a while, we feel guilty about it, like we’ve let ourselves down, and our story begins to turn against us. When our stories take a turn for the worse, we don’t want to “read” them, and we stop paying attention. That inner discouragement can lead to giving up entirely. After all, how many of us are still pursuing new year’s resolutions by mid-March?
Also, when we challenge ourselves, especially with a new habit, a part of us may feel like we aren’t cut out for this change. I can’t count the number of times I’ve told myself, and other people, “I’m just not athletic,” and used that as a reason why I couldn’t get into sports or exercise consistently. I felt daunted by trying to change and too self-conscious to ask for help.
What can we do to change our story?
Telling yourself that you can’t do it will continue to get you nowhere. Instead of looking at the mountain, don’t put so much pressure on yourself. Just embark. It’s not about getting there right now. It’s about proving to yourself that you can do it–that you can create a journey of your very own by making one, single step.
By embarking on this journey, you build trust and confidence in yourself. Yes, you CAN go out for a jog. Yes, you CAN skip the morning coffee. Yes, YOU can. Be your own number one advocate, instead of a negative self-fulfilling prophecy. Even big goals are not really “big” goals. They’re often just a series of small goals. Divide them further, and you get your first step. Want to run a marathon? You have to build endurance, day by day.
Don’t do it alone.
When I finally decided to start jogging a few times a week, I shared that goal with a friend of mine. Then, I would text her after each session and she encouraged me, helping me feel that I succeeded on my journey for the day. That boost makes a huge difference – it feels like earning one poker chip with each step. After a while, you feel more confident with the more chips you earn, recognizing that losing a chip here and there doesn’t hurt as long as you keep trying.
Start shaping your journey. You CAN go anywhere and you’ll discover something about yourself. You may find it can be quite rewarding and fun…if you let it be. You choose.
Written by Sung Soon Gaval