We all had high hopes for 2020 in the beginning

It was 11:59 in 2019 and I was about to ring in the new year. I was repeating my 2020 goal in your head: “I will finish my masters, and I will do it with a first-class pass.” I saw fireworks in the sky, and felt confident, with self-discipline and dedication I told myself: you can, no, no, you will do this!

For over a year I conducted my preliminary research: hours behind the computer, reading, more reading, writing, editing. I lacked sleep, I missed out on social events, I was moody and snappy, but I was disciplined and dedicated, just as I said I would be. I was ready to move into the next phase, my second year.

Then a global pandemic hit

BOOM! The world is plagued by a pandemic, a freaking pandemic! The world spins off its axis and I stand still, frozen. In the chaos, I repeat in my mind over and over: “I will finish my masters, and I will do it with a first-class pass”.

Fast forward a month, the message was communicated loud and clear that I will not be submitting my research proposal on the topic and enter the field for data collection at own risk.” I sank into the sofa as I read these words.

I felt frozen, paralyzed, my 2020 goal gone to the wind. I find myself completely demotivated.

Goals can limit us and here is how

Unnerved by a crippling anxiety, six months go by. Physically I have moved, emotionally, I’m stuck. Regression, no growth. “Failure, failure” repeats in my head. I lost interest in tasks I loved before and instead spent mindless hours connected to the television screen.

As humans, we are told to set goals- a simple motivating technique. But goals have the ability to make one feel worthless unless accomplished timeously. We can become prisoners to our goals. We break ourselves down as we measure ourselves against our failures. Unable to dedicate myself to anything meaningful, I spent the majority of the year measuring myself to the lack of my accomplishments, regressing into negative thoughts predating my adult life.

In a rut, I sought advice from my therapist after avoiding our sessions for months. I was ashamed, defeated, demotivated. She reminded me that life does not care about our plans, that getting knocked off course is never part of the plan but provides the perfect opportunity to re-direct one’s course. “Be gracious with yourself,” she said.

New Realisations that I take forward

Grace got me moving again. I recommitted myself to something new that allowed me to grow and to move forward, back towards myself; instead of regressing so far back that I thought I had no future to move towards.

When life goes off track, we can find ourselves consumed by a lack of direction. No one wants to feel lost in a world that’s in chaos. My regression was never about my master’s degree, but my inability to give myself the leeway to step off course. It is only when we accept that life does not always care about our plans that we can find the freedom to move gracefully. I found accepting grace so refreshing. I felt re-energized and able to recommit myself to other ventures, like joining the Connect Group with an inspiring and dear friend.

Learning to adjust one’s plans, allows life to take its course whilst providing the opportunity to regenerate and strengthen yourself in the process. 2020 has changed my perspective and I look forward to making plans for 2021, gracefully.

Written by Charlotte Tinnion and edited by Caley Wildman

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