Colin Wright focuses on self awareness throughout his book Considerations and he turns that inward focus toward our goals and desires for life. Specifically he writes about bucket list items and goals we aspire to reach. What Wright explains is that we often set up goals with the hopes of impressing other people. Our goals are chosen not because we actually want to achieve them or because we desire the things that come with reaching that goal, but instead we choose our goals based on how impressive they sound or how they will make us look relative to our peers. When comparing actual goals to bucket list items Wright states, “…rather than cataloging goals we actually have aspirations to achieve, we list things that are very impressive and intense-sounding for the sake of being associated with those types of activities.” What Wright is establishing is the idea that we are not focusing on ourselves in goal setting, but what others want or expect from us.
Wright continues to explain the difference between choosing goals that are for yourself rather than for others and ends this chapter in his book with the following, “in short, make sure your goals are for you, not for others’ perception of your. This applies to all goals, not just those on some sort of bucket list.”
I want to share this quote, or perhaps the entire section of Wright’s book, with every high school and college student in the country. So often it is easy to have expectations in your mind about what success is, but that vision of success does not always align with who you truly are, and what you truly desire. Pushing towards success by achieving what others have decided is a worthy definition of success, as opposed to understanding and creating your own definition of success, can lead you down paths that are not enjoyable and do not lead to happiness.
For me, a major challenge throughout college was developing the self awareness to understand what visions of success I had and where those visions came from. Growing up watching Top Gear had build success in my mind as a fancy sports car, and growing up in a nice house gave me certain expectations for how success translated into a home. Evaluating myself and what my definition of success was allowed me to understand what was important in life and what was not. Once I decided that I did not need to achieve a certain monetary level of success, drive sports cars, or live in a giant house, much of the stress I felt melted away. It is difficult to look inward and understand what sets the foundation for the goals we have, and it is even more difficult to begin to develop those goals on our own without feeling the pressure of what society and family expect from us.