by Imani Nichols
Some of the growing pains I anticipated as I transitioned into college included balancing employment with schoolwork and learning how to develop better study strategies. Once college began, I met a problem that I had overlooked.
There were literally hundreds of opportunities for me to explore my interests, discover new ones, and start creating the resume I’ve desired since high school. I obviously and unfortunately couldn’t do it all and I found myself telling others that, “I wish that I could do XYZ,” or “I can’t do that,” or “I’ll never even try XYZ.”
Being my own roadblock
And what happened? I ended up not even going to an info session for XYZ because I kept saying that I couldn’t do it before even trying. I didn’t venture past the XYZ website because I had already determined that I wouldn’t try it. By wishing that I could do XYZ, I put XYZ into this inaccessible category and implied that I wasn’t even good enough to even give XYZ a shot. With this logic, I missed out on some good opportunities as a freshman.
Determined to make my sophomore year of college better than my freshman year, I started asking myself what I did wrong. I realized that I didn’t perform well because I wasn’t operating with purpose or assuredness.
Being my own solution
An immediate solution was to create my goal wall—which allowed me to see what goals I had so that I can constantly remind myself of what I am working towards. A long-term solution was to change the language I used when I thought of myself and when I spoke about myself to others.
The most effective change I’ve made so far has been eliminating the word dreams from my personal and professional vocabulary and replacing it with goals. Since implementing this solution, I feel a confidence that was unfamiliar to me last year. I sound like I know what I want, I know what I want, and when I speak to others they can hear and feel this too.
For me, dreams and wishes summon imagery of fairytales with fairy godmothers. Goals summon imagery of me taking action steps—applying, interviewing, practicing, drafting—to make something happen.
If XYZ is something that I want to do and I identify it as a goal, it is possible. As I get older, I am becoming decreasingly afraid of having goals as opposed to dreams. Because I made it a priority, I know that I can do it, I think that I can do it, I will make time do it, and I will do it.
What words are you using that are holding you back? Are you never sure or do you say “I’m sorry” when you’ve done nothing wrong? Become more cognizant of the language that you use when you speak of yourself because you just may be the reason why you haven’t reached your full potential yet.
Imani Nichols is a student at University of Virginia graduating in 2017. She is considering Media Studies or American Studies as her major. After college, Imani plans to consult for a management consulting firm in Chicago and earn an MBA. She enjoys Forté webinars and working out.