It sets the tone for all that is to come - so make the effort to start well!
Get it right and you're that much more likely to succeed!
Now having crossed over into the ripe old age of 21, as I look around myself, I find that my peers and I are quite a busy bunch of bees - each of us turning a new page in the narrative of our lives. Some, myself included, have recently graduated and are just about to begin their first day of full-time work or graduate school. Quite a handful have been distributing wedding invitations and are awaiting the wonderful promise of marital bliss! Yet, others are travelling the world - moving to new places and making new friends.
Even among juniors, as September draws near and back to school promotions go up at Walmart - I find some anxiously awaiting the transition from middle school to high school, from high school to freshman year and perhaps, the most nervous of the bunch are those suited up for the crucial years of university life - also commonly referred to as the "I-must-land-that-dream-job/internship" phase. So, amidst all this chaotic upheaval, uncertainty about the future and high hopes and dreams - it's easy to become anxious, a little lost or just plain overwhelmed by the odds against you as you step out to achieve your goal. But does it have to be this hard? Not at all!
Here's what I've learnt about making the most of a new beginning. You have to take charge!
Begin with the end in mind
Every building needs a blueprint and your story is no different! If you don't make a conscious effort to reflect and create a path for yourself based on who you are, your values and what you want in life - then you empower other people and circumstances to shape you and your life by default.
The best way to begin with the end in mind is to develop personal mission statements with timely check points (every month, every year - whatever works for you) and hold yourself accountable to them. It will ensure that you're always moving upwards and forward - instead of in circles!
One of my favorite scenes out of "Alice in the Wonderland" sums this up very well:
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to."
"I don't much care where –"
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go.”
"so long as I get somewhere"
"Oh you're sure to do that"
"If you only walk long enough"
Have a (tentative) action plan!
A fatal mistake that people often make is that they let themselves become much like a deer caught in the headlights. What I mean by that is that they become so perplexed by choices that they are unable to make decisions and take action. Due to their analysis paralysis, they lose precious time and "could-have-been-wonderful" opportunities.
They are thinking: "I'm not sure where I belong or what I'm good at? What if I change my mind?
Let me give you a personal example: When I first joined my business undergrad program, every industry and field in business seemed like an exciting road to take! Though I was mildly aware, that as a froshie my limited knowledge and experience meant that I was not capable of knowing exactly what I wanted, I didn't let that stop me from making a tentative choice. I decided that marketing was where my passion lay - so I spent all of my first year mingling with CPG companies and competing in marketing plan competitions. Lo and behold, when summer arrived somehow I had managed to change my mind and decided to board the CA-bound train instead! So what then? Did all my past efforts become meaningless? Not one bit! In fact, much to my delight, I found that I had grown far more confident and comfortable. My resume didn't say "executive in Accounting Society" but my diverse experiences helped me differentiate myself from the crowd and it worked!
You see here's the secret I've learned - Skills are always transferable and U-turns available!
"You’re heading out on an adventure and you can always change your mind along the way and try something else." (Tracy Kidder)
So just pick a road, any road that tickles your fancy and fly with it!
You are probably familiar with this tried and true goal setting strategy and while I won't go on at length about it - I can't stress enough the need to ensure that the goals you set are: Specific. Measurable. Action-oriented. Realistic and Time-Driven! The last one probably being the most challenging. I can just imagine my fellow procrastinators nodding fervently at this point.
Here's a trick that works for me: If you really want to establish a new habit or achieve something - lock yourself in with a deadline or a commitment! For example, if you are determined to stop sleeping in and manage your time better this semester - swallow hard and take all those 8:30 am classes. The first week or few may be tough but the human mind and body is infinitely adaptive. Soon you'll find yourself reveling in your new productivity and that much happier for it!
Begin SMALL - but begin TODAY!
Too often we wait for the right time and the right conditions. We know what we ought to be doing but we allow ourselves to become overwhelmed by the complexity of our goals or worse, we let our passions dwindle away in the curse of laziness. Don't wait for the conditions to become perfect- they never will be! Start today! Start small and don't look back. You are bound to surprise yourself.
In the end, I shall leave you with this thought:
"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" - Lao Tzu
Cheers till next time,