Challenge: SET SOME GOALS
Lunch hours taken: 2/5
Rating: Brief! But stirring…
We all hit points in our lives – it could be at work or just personally – where we feel a little sluggish, uninspired and fearful of not living life “to the full”, however we may define that. I think, for me at least, these usually come after I have achieved something or been on holiday. It’s coming back down to the every day after a particularly busy period, or a week of complete contrast and excitement, that makes the fear kick in and I suddenly feel like I’m not doing enough. Perhaps this is why so many people start job hunting in the New Year, or just after the summer holiday. After these periods of variety and indulgence, our bodies are shocked to return to the mundane (again, professionally or personally).
I think that, for most people, this feeling usually dissipates after a couple of weeks, but this time round I decided to put myself to the test and define exactly what it was that I was worried I was missing out on. This was also in response to a question put to me by my boyfriend (now ex) a few months ago. After an argument during which I’d vented my frustration at several situations, he asked me what my dreams were. I was completely shocked to find that I didn’t have an answer. Four or five years ago, I would have been able to reel off my top five dreams, in order of priority, and tell you how far along I was in making each one a reality. I was appalled that I had nothing to say: at what point had I stopped dreaming?
And so, this was the week to think big, set some goals and start dreaming again. Aware that it doesn’t take five whole lunch breaks to write a few hopes and wishes down, I also decided to arrange lunch with a colleague who, in my eyes, was living one of my dreams (to work abroad). More on that later. First: the goal setting.
Not all of these can be shared, mostly because there are a couple that are a little silly and involve other people. The main ones, though, were:
- Live abroad
- Travel more
- Learn Italian, French and Spanish (conversational) by 2018
- Be more confident and self-assertive; happier with my self image
- Do something (don’t know what!) that facilitates easier connections between high-earning and charitable support (had to have a lofty one…)
- Be more independent
- Enjoy myself!
I found it really interesting that, at the ripe old age of 29, getting married and having children didn’t make their way on to the list. I considered putting them there, as when I think about these things I do hope that I’ll be at least married by the age of 35, but I just couldn’t bring myself to define this as a ‘goal’. I realised that marriage and kids were things that I felt would be nice if they happen, but that I wasn’t actively setting out to achieve or attain either. This actually made me feel quite calm and happy to think that, if I do end up married one day, it will hopefully be because someone wonderful just came along, rather than any dogged pursuit or shot-gun rush to the altar on my part (although I can’t guarantee that those won’t happen either…).
I was also quite surprised to see how much I kept coming back round to living and working abroad and learning languages. I knew these were vague hopes, but everything was somehow linked to spreading my wings, growing and expanding – geographically, mentally, aesthetically. To realise that I place this above marriage and kids in terms of desire and importance was quite exciting: get away now, settle later.
Finally, this was the first time that psychological goals have appeared on my list of dreams: self-esteem, confidence and independence all featured heavily. Perhaps this is a sign that I am growing up and not wanting to be part of the crowd so much. I’m intrigued to see how that manifests itself!
So, mentally, this was a wonderful and liberating exercise, and a ‘sorting’ or ‘filing’ type of activity too, as it really helped to get my thoughts and priorities in order. It also made me consider my role more responsibly and appreciate the skills that I am learning, which might one day help me get a job abroad. Sometimes it’s easy to forget why you are in a certain sector, or position, especially if you’ve been there for a while. Lining this up against your goals is a useful way of reminding yourself that you’re lucky to be where you are (and if not – move!).
On Friday I decided to explore my main goal more thoroughly and invited a colleague who had lived in several different countries to lunch. I heard all about her life in Dubai, Australia, Rome and somewhere else I’ve forgotten. She told so many enviable stories about her time in various global cities, but most impressive of all was that there didn’t seem to be a formula for going and working abroad – she just did it. There I was, a million questions in my mind about how it’s done (do you need a job before you go? How do you get one? What about visas? And money? And living arrangements?), while the basic rule appeared to be: just go and do it. Seems like an appropriate maxim to end on.