As my second year of University dawns, I’ve had time to think about what I want to achieve from this year, both academically and personally. That’s also brought into question the notion of success, happiness and contentment and what it means to be able to have a healthy balance of all three. So often we’re all after a goal, whether long or short term, how to to complete those goals and when. Throughout my twenty-two years it’s been the same cycle of school year after year; studying all year (sometimes not enough) and when it comes to crunch time, trying to get the best grades possible (something that I’ve had my fair share of disappointment in). But no matter what grades you get, good or bad, there’s always the promise that next year will be better, that next time you can do better, study harder and get better grades or achieve the goal you’ve been working on.
And so it goes on after school, after University and into the big scary working world. We’re always striving for more, hoping for better things. We put ourselves through more hoops than anyone or anything else to achieve something that we want, that we need. Ambition has always been an admired quality, and rightly so, but when is ambition too much?
I don’t mean to say that we shouldn’t strive for more or stop working hard to keep what we’ve achieved, but I think it’s come to my attention that we, as human kind, are working so hard to establish ourselves in this world that a majority of us have become goal driven, never settling, never resting. Constantly moving from one goal to the next, with little time in between for reflection and appreciation, and most of all, gratitude for everything we do have. And therein lies the problem; we’ve become so fixated with goals and ambitions that we rarely ever take the time to reflect on everything that we have achieved, everything good that’s come our way and be truly thankful that we are in a position that many people only dream about.
I think that having ambition is a wonderful thing, perhaps even a necessary one in this cut-throat world. But having ambition without taking the time to reflect and appreciate what we already have, seems to be a rather selfish thing, and one I’m positive I don’t want to embody. Yes, I want to do well at University and further on, when hopefully one day I’ll have a job of my own. But will it be worth it if I choose to forget how far I’ve come? What it’s taken for me to get there and be grateful for every little thing I’ve achieved? I hope not. I hope that we are all able to step back a little after every achievement and see the bigger picture. See that what we have is special and while we may want more, it’s equally (if not more) important to live in the moment and be grateful for what we do have.
With ambition and goal seeking comes a large breeding ground for disappointment, when we achieve less than we thought or when things, for better or worse, don’t go our way. I think that it’s because of our goal-driven natures that we have the tendency to take failure as a hard hit, and one that not everyone can move on from seamlessly. It can, however, be easier to bear once we begin to realise that even though things didn’t go as planned, we did our very best. And in the end, that’s the most important thing. I think that once we know that we have done our best, that may be the biggest achievement of all. By doing your best, taking the time to appreciate and be grateful for all that you have achieved may be the best way to have a good balance between success and contentment. And it’s something I’m going to attempt to do throughout my second year, in hopes that I can come out the other side unscathed :p