Most people would succeed in small things if they were not troubled with great ambitions.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Dream Big, Start Small
- A high school student with B's and C's decides he will never get into Princeton, so he avoids filling out college applications.
- A recent college graduate with a degree in Computer Engineering cannot find any job openings with Microsoft, and so she turns down other opportunities while waiting for a position to open up.
- A graduate student needs money to complete his research, but is not yet qualified to apply for national fellowships, so he takes out yet another loan, plunging himself further into debt.
Each of these students would experience greater success if they realigned their goals with reality; success does not have to mean getting into an Ivy League school, landing a prestigious job right out of college, or receiving a Rhodes Scholarship.
Actually, success means setting realistic goals, and then devising and implementing a plan to achieve them.
Aiming High for You
For example, the student with B's and C's is right to assume that he probably will not be accepted into Princeton, However, there are other institutions who have more flexible criteria for admission (including prioritizing in-state applicants) that make his goal of getting into college absolutely attainable.
My suggestion for him, and similar students, is to utilize the number of online resources to filter out which schools are a good fit for the B student.
Similarly, the graduate looking to work at Microsoft can be open to jobs with smaller computer companies, or even internships, as a means to getting her foot planted into the industry. And the graduate student can avoid further debt by investigating what kinds of scholarships exist in his department and at a more regional level.
Comparison Is The Thief Of Joy
Here's where the role of Self-Initiative comes into play - you must give yourself permission to define what constitutes success in your own terms. Be willing to find alternative routes to a major goal, or reframe your goal entirely.
- Start out a school and later attempt to transfer into your dream school
- Take an unpaid internship to gain experience for your dream job
- Find money in smaller scholarships, which make you more competitive later for major grants
The point is to be ambitious in a way that gets stuff done. Always Aim High, while recognizing it's not always a straight path to your original goal.