A recent graduate, I found myself engaged in an internal tug-of-war about what I am going to do with my life. I majored in literature to teach high school English, and over the last four years, I never stopped wanting to pursue a career in education. Until recently, that is. I got cold feet, questioned my plan (as if I didn’t design it myself), and whispered a worry of, “What if this isn’t what I’m meant to do?”
I realized that if I keep saying “What if,” I’m going to have a long list of what I would’ve done if I hadn’t been afraid to commit to my interests. Our twenties can be a time of confusion, often with big changes taking place. So here’s how I found I could manage to shake my doubts about the future and fully embrace what I know I love to do, and maybe you can do the same.
Accept that being nervous or having trepidation is natural. Golfer Hale Irwin said, “If you’re not just a little bit nervous before a match, you probably don’t have the expectations of yourself that you should have.” We get nervous before doing things that impact our success—emotionally, physically, financially, etc. No one commits to something in hopes that it will fail. The feeling of nervousness lets you know that what you are doing bears real meaning to you and speaks volumes about your passion.
Evaluate your interests and goals. I simply asked myself, “If I could get paid to do something with my skills, what would it be?” The answer: If I could spend my days reading books and analyzing them with people while simultaneously making a potential difference in the world, that is what I would do. So that is exactly what I am going to do. Take time to really think about what your interests are, and decide if those interests align with your goals. Then you can begin to set a course of action to realize your desires.
Develop a real plan. Now that you are clear on what you want to do, develop a realistic plan on how to reach your goals. Setting short term goals can be helpful by making a ladder to your bigger goals. Creating a timeline can also be helpful in marking important things you need to do and when. Mine personally includes some certificate courses I want to sign up for, dates applications are due, and GRE testing dates. My present goal is to enroll in graduate school by January 2015, so I have laid out exactly what I need to do to accomplish this, and I can check off small goals along the way.
Enact your plan. Recent Superbowl winning quarterback Russell Wilson quoted his late father’s advice, “Why not you?” as encouragement to his team before the big game. So, why not you? You know what you want, and you know how to get it—so make it happen! Let go of your doubt, be confident in your plan, and know that whatever you seek is out there for the taking.
We could all use a little advice. How have you realized some of your goals despite cold feet? What ways have you managed to get over self-doubt or the fear of commitment in any aspect of life? We would love to hear from you!