“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
–John F. Kennedy
Monthly Archives: November 2012
This post is a follow-up to the post I just published on living a dream and setting a goal for yourself. If you haven’t already, please read “Living Your Dream” before continuing to finish this post, because I can guarantee you that things will make a lot more sense that way 🙂
So now you’ve got this goal that you want to accomplish. And you’ve committed to it 100% that you’re going to complete this goal, whatever it may be, no matter what happens. No matter if you’re faced with resistance, no matter if you’re too tired to work, no matter what. You are ready to go, right? You’re super excited, you’re fired up and you’re willing to get things done. You’re making to-do lists, you’re marking your calendar. You’ve got everything under control.
So then, you start working. It’s really hard at the beginning but you keep going and then you find yourself understanding what it’s like to be living a dream. Things are looking great. You’re comfortable.
But then (you knew that was coming, didn’t you?), you hit a wall. You get to a point in whatever you’re working on when you realize that you have absolutely no clue what you’re doing. You don’t know what to do next, you have a lot of unanswered questions, you aren’t really sure why you’re doing this anymore. You really need to ask for help. But maybe you haven’t made your goal public and you don’t have the courage to ask for help. Or maybe you don’t know who to ask. Or you don’t know how to ask. Or you’re scared that people are going to judge you for not knowing all the answers even though you’ve already started working for your goal.
At this point, you have two options, and this may seem very obvious for you, but just bear with me. Option 1: You stay where you are–miserable and confused and not really sure what you’re doing. You continue working toward your goal but you’re not as excited as you used to be, but you’re definitely not going to lower yourself by asking someone for help. Or Option 2: You ask for help. Yeah, I’m making it seem like it’s super easy to just walk up to someone and ask for help, but if you’re like me, you have to realize that asking someone for help is actually very difficult for some people, including me.
So when I passed the stage of excitement and started to do my research with my technology teacher, we eventually hit a wall, just like I was talking about in this post. We had no idea what we were doing, we had no experience in fundraising, we had no direct contact with any professionals in Egypt, and there were a million questions that were sitting around, unanswered. And that’s when Ms. Murakami suggested that we reach out to a nonprofit who has already established ties in Egypt such that they could help us get this project started and be our aid all along the way.
But as soon as she suggested that we do some research and find some nonprofits, I found myself a little bit upset. I really didn’t want to get another organization involved. A huge part of me really wanted Laptops for Egypt to be MY project, and no one else’s. I was being incredibly selfish and not realizing that without another organization, there was absolutely no way that I was going to do this all by myself. NO WAY ON EARTH. So while my technology teacher did some research on organizations, I spent a couple of days sulking. I was feeling a little bit prideful. I didn’t want anyone else to take control of my project.
After a couple of days of being mad, I got over my pride and started talking to my parents and grandparents who pointed out Hands Along the Nile as a great resource for me. One email and five days later, I had myself a deal to Skype with the executive director of Hands Along the Nile once I returned from winter break, and then the rest is history, of course.
Had I not broken out of that prideful stage (and I wasn’t completely willing to do so, even when I did) I would never have connected with Hands Along the Nile and this project would not be where it is today. I’ve learned that by admitting you need help, it’s not a weakness as many of us envision it to be, but rather it shows much strength. It takes a lot of courage to step up and admit that you have no idea what you’re doing and that you need some advice. It’s so much better to step up and ask for help rather than pretending like you know what you’re talking about, when you clearly don’t, and then having your goals delayed because you are too scared to ask for help.
At the beginning of each new year, many of us sit down with a pencil and paper and make a list of “New Year’s Resolutions,” things we want to change about our current lifestyles. And we use the new year as a launching point for our new goals. We get super excited about all the things we are going to do to change the way we live in the year to come. And then, January 2 comes. Some of us are faithful to our resolutions, while others of us (including me!) have already forgotten our goals and instead have resorted to our normal everyday lives.
But here’s the thing I have realized over the years. When you want to set a goal for yourself, it doesn’t have to be at the start of a new year, or even at the start of a new semester. It can be as simple as waking up one morning with a goal in mind and setting your mind to getting it done. It can be as simple as realizing that there’s something you want to change about your own life and resolving to set a goal and follow through with it. It can be as simple as sitting in front of a computer screen one day in December and realizing that it’s up to you to fight for the change you want to see in the world.
However, there’s a catch. You have to actually follow through with that goal that you set. And, sure, it’s easy to say that you’re going to stick to your plans. It’s even easy to follow through for the first few days, weeks, or even months (if you’re lucky). But the point of setting a goal is eventually to keep your word and accomplish whatever you set out to complete, am I right? The point is to make that dream come true. So when I made it my goal to get 100 laptops to Egypt, I didn’t really understand what I was getting myself into. In fact, I had no idea what I was doing, and there are some days even now (almost a year later) when I still don’t know what I’m doing and I have to ask for help (read my next post for more about that). But that’s not the point. The point is that once I made that commitment back in December, it was the first time in a long while that I had made a serious goal and actually resolved to follow through with it, no matter what was going to happen.
And now, eleven months later, I would like to think that I am following through with that goal that I set. I would like to think that I am living my dream and doing everything and anything possible to make that dream come true. And let me tell you, that starting off is the hardest part. I was so excited about this idea for the first couple of days–telling my family and my friends all about my lofty goal to make a big difference in Egypt. And then after sitting down with my technology teacher to figure out how the heck I was going to get started (this was before we had realized that a partnership with a nonprofit organization was pretty much necessary in order to make this work), I started to get discouraged right away. I started to understand the size of this project and began to question myself for getting so excited about something that was probably never going to happen.
The point of this post, however, is to let you know that there is hope. Every time you set a goal for yourself, no matter what that goal is, you go through ups and downs. Periods when you’re so excited about getting your goal done that you can barely contain yourself. And then, moments later, periods when you have no idea what you’re doing and you’re wondering how on Earth you’re going to accomplish your goal and you’re mad at yourself for even thinking about it in the first place. Such ups and downs are inevitable, I can guarantee you. But once you get past that first downhill of anger and confusion and questions and concern, it’s only uphill from there. I promise you. That first downhill is designed to test your endurance, to determine the depth of your commitment, and to set in stone your goals. You don’t have to have all the questions answered when you are ready to commit, but you do have to know that you are willing to go through thick and thin and everything in between on your way to reach your goal.
And once you’re in it–once there’s no turning back and you’re on that uphill toward reaching your goal–I am telling you from the bottom of my heart that it’s the best feeling on Earth. Sure, you’re going to be stressed and worried and angry and sad sometimes, when things don’t go the way you want them to, or when you aren’t really sure what to do. But once you step back and understand that what you’re doing, no matter what it is, is fulfilling a goal and living a dream, you will develop a whole new passion for what you’re doing and you’ll be even more willing to get it done regardless of how much work and time and energy you will have to expend to get it. Because once you realize you’re living a dream, you will understand the importance of making that dream–your dream–come true.