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Goals, milestones and me

Monday, 9 March 2020
Shirt: Vintage, Jeans: Thrift flipped levis Dino Socks: Tesco

Hi, my name is Julia and I am at the start of an existential crisis. Currently I am studying a masters in history, a nice extension of my undergraduate degree since I enjoyed studying so much. Less contact hours, but still fulfilled by the same mind set I have had for the past 10 or so years I’ve spent in education. Work towards goals and particular milestones either in life or the school year; there is always something to do or look forward to in the academic year. A point to strive towards. The loss of this idea genuinely terrifies me.

Now what is the ‘goal mentality’?

What the hell are you going on about Julia, is something I am sure you’re asking. It’s either that or I’m coming off as a bad life coach or maybe even someone who is trying to bribe you into joining a cult. The milestone mentality is a way to measure your life based on the current success you are in or striving for, it is the idea that you work to complete your GCSEs, A levels, Undergraduate degree with the idea that the piece of paper you obtain is what keeps you going. Now this isn’t an unhealthy outlook, just one I have come to rely on too much. Now if every few years in adulthood someone graded me for surviving the world on my own, I’d probably be more content. Alas, this is not the case.

So far, it seems like the goal mentality is one that’s healthy and fairly understandable. A standard that’s easy to rely on, to measure yourself based on your relative success. It’s good to have a driving force that keeps you going forward through various tasks or the year. I have even set myself goals to achieve this year, though they appear broad in the post they are actually more concentrated in my head. This is where the issue comes in.

Goals, milestones and little old me.

I don’t know if this is just a me thing or one of those things that everyone experiences, but this milestone/goal mentality has become something that is somewhat unhealthy. A big part of my identity is working myself so hard to the point of exhaustion so that I can be proud of what I’ve accomplished. Recently, I’ve learned that this isn’t what it’s cracked out to be when the hard work doesn’t pay off. When you get a shitty result to a goal you’ve worked so hard for, and it just makes you question what the point is. This is when it becomes unhealthy; the moment that the particular goal doesn’t go to plan yet you’ve based your entire happiness on those particular grades or goals.

Finding the joy in everyday: when the dog decides to crash blog photos

This is why I have decided to break the goals mindset I have, the failure despite hard work that I have experienced has almost acted like a wake up call. I can’t base my mental health on grades and the expectation that I’ll always do well if I put in the effort. Sometimes that’s not how things work. Instead I’ve realised I should try and take joy in the everyday things, not in a Marie Kondo let’s drop my masters as it isn’t sparking joy- More that I need to take note of the smaller things I like so that the floundering doesn’t continue after I finish my degree.

Currently I don’t know what I want to do with my future, but what I do know now is that if I continue to base my life around goals and milestones… well there aren’t that many which are certain outside of education. Get a house. A dog. A promotion. They’re all things that don’t really have a set time window, instead the far reaching goals can continue, but shouldn’t dictate my happiness. (It is at this moment that I realise I sound like some cheesy self help guide…) I need to see what makes me happy beyond set achievements as these are uncertain and may not end up becoming fulfilled. You never know how things will go. I mean it’s why I don’t have set 5 or 10 year plans, so there’s no reason why I should continue to rely on the milestone and goal structure to be what I structure my life around.

So yeah, obviously I can’t just remove goals from my life or things may become meaningless. Instead I’d say we’re moving into a new era of platonic understanding instead of having a ugly divorce where I end up sofa surfing my life away. We’re staying on good terms, goals will always be there; I will just no longer be relying on their fulfilment to give me a sense of self worth. What’s your relationship with goal making and milestones? I’d love to know if you see them similar or in a different way to me.

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