Sounds like a disorder, huh? In a way, I suppose it is.
If you suffer from it, it does reflect some kind of disorder in your life. Right?
So many college students experience directionlessness, maybe you’re one of ‘em.
You’re in college, but perhaps not really sure why you’re there or what you want. You’ve responded to the cultural messages that lured you to college in the first place. And, you bought into the promises. Your parents or guardians did, too.
College can be a cool place to be when you are NOT directionless OR you’re at least committed to NOT being directionless.
However, if you suffer from directionless, it can be a really difficult place to be.
Feelings of being stuck, overwhelm, wandering aimlessly, confusion, frustration, being unmotivated, being bored, etc. can hold you hostage, daily.
If your inner circle includes a student or two who have clear destinations in mind, you might compare yourself to them and constantly come up short. Not much fun.
You can certainly use the time in college to explore, but showing up with absolutely no direction can be tough.
A great percentage of college students end up dropping out, not finishing, for a variety of reasons; some make it to their senior year and drop out. So close to the finish line.
But it’s not really about the finish line, is it?
Nope. It’s about knowing why you are headed to that particular finish line in the first place.
THIS is what I mean when I talk about directionlessness.
What does crossing that finish line mean? Does it mean you’re finally finished tolerating a meaningless journey? Does it mean you’ve stumbled along some path for 4+ years to please someone else, not yourself? What does crossing that finish line mean for you?
To be fair, there needs to be an ongoing conversation from a very young age where your parents or guardians and school personnel prepare you to make this transition, smoothly.
No, not just the directive “you’re going to college,” but an ongoing curiosity-padded conversation that encourages you to envision yourself getting better, inspires you to search and wonder, empowers you to reach, demands that you question everything along the way.
Instead, the American educational system does the exact opposite.
It sucks the wonder out of you, punishes you when you’re creative, dismisses you when you ask questions, and degrades you when you fail to conform.
Sure, there’s a small minority in our educational system who are committed to NOT participating in this madness, but most follow their marching orders and drag students through these exercises of disempowerment daily, which is why so many step into the college arena suffering from directionlessness.
I’ve been having conversations with students – middle school, high school and college – for decades, and unpreparedness is a constant.
There’s a total lack of focus and clarity when it comes direction and their destination of choice.
Some may be aware of their interests, but they haven’t had caring and committed mentors and coaches nurture their passions, interests, and innate talents and abilities; equip them for what lies ahead; and arm them with the mental, emotional and spiritual toughness and tools to navigate the path to their desired destination.
You see, you’ve got to have a target. Something to shoot for. Something to shoot at. If you don’t, directionlessness will take you down.
When Matthew McConaughey (love him or hate him) won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 2014 for his performance in Dallas Buyers Club, he said something that I found intriguing in his acceptance speech.
He said, “ There’s about three things to my account that I need each day. One of them is something to look up to, another is something to look forward to, and another is someone to chase.” Take a peek at the video clip below.
What he’s suggesting here is having some direction, something to motivate you – something to look up to, something to look forward to and someone to chase.
I love that his someone to chase, or his hero, as he said, is always him 10 years from that date. How cool is that?
Of course, in order for your hero to be you ten years into the future, you have to have a vision you’re working towards, something you’re reaching for, so you’re excited, inspired and proud to have your ten-years-into-the-future self as your hero.
SO, what’s the antidote to directionlessness?
HAVING A VISION!
Where do you find this vision?
You’ve got to get still, get quiet and start having conversations with yourself, OFTEN, about where you’d love to see yourself in ten years.
Don’t like having conversations with yourself, then get a notebook and start writing, brain and heartstorming what turns you on, lights you up, calls to you.
Please don’t judge what comes up, there’s no right or wrong here.
And, don’t compare your vision to someone else’s.
This is about what gets YOU going. What YOU can’t help but think about, talk about, do.
Consider the people you admire. Why do you admire them? These are great clues because what we notice in others are typically the qualities we possess and the aspirations we share.
Yeah, I know a lot can change in ten years. That’s why it’s not really about detailing where you actually want to be in ten years. It’s about the process of thinking, feeling and acting in a way that moves you closer to something that fulfills you, has meaning, and allows you to contribute in a positive way, perhaps even a big way.
The ten year suggestion pushes you to reach, nudges you to go after something that excites you and motivates you to keep moving forward.
Maybe after taking a peek at McConaughey’s speech, you’ll adopt his approach and start thinking about something to look up to, something to look forward to, and someone to chase.
Or, perhaps you’ll setup your own approach to having a direction, a bold vision, a big goal, something that calls to you daily and keeps you revved up and stretching beyond your comfort zone, ready to take on your next challenge.
Humans don’t do very well sitting/standing still.
Stagnation and directionlessness kills our spirit. Just check out the latest depression, job dissatisfaction and suicide stats.
BUT. When we have a direction, something to shoot for, something that sets us up to create something meaningful and fulfilling, that sets us up to soar in our own unique way.
Robbi Crawford, The Student’s Mentor, Author and Speaker is the founder of BrijBrand. Subscribe below and join the BrijBrand community. We’ll keep you in the loop about what we’re building for YOU, and create a safe place to land when you’re feeling stuck, need a plan, and want some targeted help and genuine support!