I don’t know about you, but in both my personal and professional life, I have always been goal-driven. I have even experienced heading down a path toward a goal while questioning if the goal was still worth it, but continued to charge forward nonetheless. The voices in my head shouting: “Don’t be a quitter,” “You can’t give up now, you have invested too much time and resources,” and “What will people think?” -amongst other things in the endless conscious mind chatter attempting to provide critique and guidance.
I recently made a life direction shift on a goal I have had since I was in my twenties. I chose to withdraw from a PhD program that I began only one year ago. Determining this dream wasn’t something that I desired to exert my time and resources toward any longer, even after consuming twenty plus hours a week of my life, was painstaking. I struggled to get to the core of what was missing for me in the program. Was I giving up too early? What did I expect? What was I hoping this was going to do for me personally and professionally? Being a relentless learner, was I going to lose the opportunity to expand my mind with other like souls?
My mind chatter was going full speed as I diligently wrote down my thoughts in attempt to gain a clearer picture of the situation. After much angst, I spoke to my spouse about the situation. After his patient listening, he asked one simple question: “Based on your other goals in your life, do you feel you need the PhD to accomplish them?” Hmmm … pretty simple question, but one that I was not capturing in my mind chatter. I sat back and pondered the question. I started to recognize I was moving forward with a program where I felt I didn’t quite fit in, and it wasn’t a necessity for the other pursuits in my life. I felt like I was putting my other goals on hold while diverting my time and resources to a goal that I wasn’t 100% committed to or truly wanted any longer. The program wasn’t what I thought it would be, and I would never have known that if I hadn’t pursued it in the first place.
Since my decision and imminent withdrawal from the program, my mind became free to think about and pursue goals that better align with my life journey. My creativity for my business has been released once again, as my time and energy are now focused on growing our business and following my passion of inspiring, educating and empowering proactive individuals to reach their potential. The experience taught me the importance of reflection and questioning if the direction you are going is still what you want. You may surprise yourself when you realize that slowing down to ask that question may force you to realign your goals in a sharper direction.
I must admit, it wasn’t necessarily an easy decision or transition. All of sudden, I regained over twenty hours a week, which caused me to flounder for a couple of weeks as I reclaimed balance within my life.
Are the goals you’re pursuing still worth pursuing? Have you performed an analysis to ensure that the direction you are heading still aligns with your passions and dreams? Sometimes the thing we thought we wanted ends up being something we realize we can do without. You have to know when to hold them and when to fold them, otherwise you may spend needless time and resources chasing goals for the wrong reasons.