You may have heard the quote ‘shoot for the moon, and if you miss, at least you’ve got the stars.’ In fact, you might have even pinned up the Pinterest version in your room. Despite its popularity and cringe level, there’s still lots to unpack in this well-known saying - about potential, ambition and failure. In this blog, I’ll be talking through the art of setting goals as we face the month of new academic beginnings. But don’t worry, we’ve still got time before September starts, and this can apply to your personal or more educational goals.
First of all, a goal has to be tangible, and by that, I mean realistic. This doesn’t need to limit your ambitions, but rather take into account the skills and resources you already have in order to get the best result from what you have. Mostly, being self-aware of your tendencies really helps. If you struggle with low self-esteem, imposter syndrome or tend to undermine yourself it’s really easy to be doubtful before you’ve even started a task. Contrastingly, if you’re more of a confident character it could be easy to be a little more unrealistic. Both have their pros and cons, so balance is crucial. With a higher self-esteem there’s more a ‘go for it’ attitude involved, which could even result in better results but be potentially disappointing if things don’t quite go how you thought it would. Meanwhile, if you tend to overthink or undermine yourself, you could be pleasantly surprised with just how well you can do. Additionally, overthinkers may tend to think more strategically about their goals and factor in their resources, skills and timeframe which could result in some much more approachable achievements.
As you can see, it’s all a bit slippery, but the main thing is to be self-aware with the qualities you have and take it from there. Having a little more confidence or being slightly more cautious might be of huge benefit, so see what works for you! Knowing where your strengths and weaknesses lie can help you identify what you may need to work on. If you’re struggling with seeing what is or isn’t practical for your goals, it might be helpful to get another perspective or opinion from someone who knows you and your ambitions. This will help you gain some more objectivity and guidance.
Whilst talking about progress, goal setting and achievements it’s also good to talk about the flip side of this: failure. Often, the word has a pretty bad rep which doesn’t do it enough justice. Challenges and these so-called failures often push your growth mindset and help you reframe your perspective. It’s interesting to focus on the ‘at least you’ve got the stars’ part. Failure offers you a chance to look at and be grateful for what you do have or what you’ve gained in the process of trying. Obviously, setting realistic and manageable goals is great as it’s much more likely you’ll be motivated to start a task. However, to help to look forward to things, it’s nice to have a bit of a challenge. Thinking about the future helps shape our present attitudes. Of course, this means you won’t always get what you set out to achieve… but in trying you learn so much through the process. This can be applied on a small-scale level or even when thinking about what you want for a future world or utopia. My artistic goals led me to a magazine I now co-edit, where our latest issues talk about the creative, personal and global goals and aspirations individuals have. Find our latest issue from £5.50 for the print version here or get a PDF copy sent straight to your inbox for £3 here
Hopefully you can use the ending of August as a way to reflect on this summer and how you can adapt for the start of a new term. What else is summer made for but dreaming up our collective and personal ambitions?
Anisha Minocha is studying English and Spanish at the University of St Andrews. She is a passionate writer and poet whose work has been published in anthologies, magazines, blogs and won competitions. Contributing to Sink Magazine, she is keen to utilize the voice of young people and share work through her creative writing blog. As a climate activist, she has combined her love for words and the planet in a performance of spoken word at the Royal Exchange Theatre in 'Letters to the Earth'. She also co-runs Young Friends of the Earth: Manchester and has organised workshops, participated in panels and spoken at Manchester Cathedral.
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