Last month, I wrote about finding the possible within the impossible, and remembering that with hard work and determination you can meet goals that may seem impossible at the moment. This month I’ve been thinking about how sometimes the smaller goals we set as benchmarks can distract us from our larger, long-term goals. It all started when my brother asked my parents “Does Emily really have that much homework to do? Or is she just overdoing it and making more work for herself?”
A few days after my brother’s question the SAC published a post about what to do when your passion becomes your stressor. I’ve always considered myself fortunate because instead of having one all-consuming passion, I find myself passionate about almost everything that meets my path. One of my forever passions—learning.
Until my brother mentioned it, I never really thought about whether or not the excessive amount of studying and homework I was doing was actually beneficial. I just assumed that writing the best literature review paper EVER was going to take many early morning writing sessions and an absurd amount of color coding, note taking, and sticky notes. It never occurred to me that perhaps it was detrimental to become so engrossed in a paper that was really only a benchmark goal to complete a course this semester. I had let my passion get the best of me.
So, as I sat on the chair looking out the window with my best friend Sasha, I suddenly realized that I was unhappy. I was unhappy because my life was becoming consumed by my passion for learning and I was unhappy because my short term goal (crushing my literature review) was consuming my life. I was unhappy because I wasn’t as excited as I normally was to spend time with my grandma and I was unhappy that I still hadn’t finished the book I started to read for fun in September.
Ironically, I found the inspiration I was looking for to make a change within words I had tweeted quite a few weeks earlier.
Apparently, someone, somewhere knew I needed a little nudge to move in a different direction.
As rough as I’ve felt the past few days after this revelation, I am taking it as a blessing in disguise. I’m thankful to have the opportunity to re-learn this lesson. As I move out of graduate school and into a full-time position in student affairs in the “real world,” I will continue to have long-term goals. However, short-term goals and benchmarks will be what I find myself dealing with regardless of my path. If I end up continuing to work with social media in a marketing office, short-term goals of weekly meetings with student employees, bi-weekly social media outlines and monthly contests and campaigns will heavily outweigh the long-term goals of analytic assessment and account growth.
So, I’m working to rein myself in … again. I bought myself Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project to read on my flight to Florida next week, I’ve been working hard to make time each night to watch bad reality TV, do a word search, read a book for fun—all in attempts to find balance again. Regardless of whether or not I crush my literature review, I’ve re-learned two important lessons: goals are meant to guide and not consume, and passion is mean to encourage growth, not stagnation.
This post is part of the Emerging SA Pro series following 4 awesome people: Alexandria, Doug, Emily, and Alexander, as they blog monthly about 1 year of their journey as either a new SA Pro or SA grad student. We are proud to help them share their stories as they break into our field.
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Podcast With Sinclair Ceasar on Successful Supervision