In the midst of snowy January, we have just finished another year of new experience and knowledge. Looking back, hopefully we’ve come closer to achieving what we set out to do in the beginning, looking forward to the new year and what exciting news it had in store for us. Our goals are what helps us move forward, even when times are tough and the road is hard, the journey to some ultimate destination is often worth it. But, what happens when we are faced with setbacks that are seemingly impossible overcome?
The question feels timely with all the transformative events we’ve endured over the last year; Brexit and the Trump victory serving as examples. What seemed impossible at first has since left the world in a state of disbelief and wonder at what will happen next. Judging by the results, far from everybody seems to have liked the road Obama chose for the US and the EU collaboration in the UK. Brexit is uncharted territory, since no country has ever left the EU before. The radical change from Obama to Trump is a much bigger transformation than if Clinton had won. The ongoing international agenda set for the last few years, with more collaboration between countries and free trade agreements, seems to have stalled. And what will happen in terms of climate change? Considering this year’s events it might be easy to be pessimistic about the near future, even though nothing is really written in stone thus far.
To turn from the heavy international arenas to more familiar gorunds, we can look for setbacks that might have affected us as students instead. Most of us are striving for something through the program we study, whether to simply expand our knowledge on how international business works, or to work up the skills to get that future job at a dream company. We are all driven by some degree of motivation and different kinds of ambition, which are the driving forces that propel us forward.
Even though we often have a good idea of how the road to a goal might be paved, we are often met by setbacks that change our circumstances and turn our worlds upside down. When an exam doesn’t go as planned and all your effort doesn’t pay off, it is easy for the spirit to take a hit. I have been challeegd with courses that didn’t pan out as planned and know the initial struggle to get back on track. It has made me aware of the fact that the road I mapped out in the beginning of my studies has changed, but that my ambition is still intact, all thanks to the things I strive for even in bad times.
Ambitions and motivation are key elements to enduring hard times. Whenever things don’ really pan out and you feel lost, it is extremely important to have something to strive for. Before I started my studies at Lund University, I competed at elite level in show-jumping and was taught at the national team camp to always set two different kinds of goals in my training – one for the short run and one for the long. The short-term goals were focused on weekly improvements aimed at a certain part of my groundwork, while the long-term goals could include excelling at a big competition months away. The same principle can be applied to many things in life, like studies, with small goals like fully understanding a certain chapter and bigger ones, such as scoring the best possible grade at the end of a course. It really helps in times of struggle and setbacks to have a concrete plan to lean on. It might seem naive or even silly but this mentality has always helped me whenever I have faced a setback – in my studies, sports and overall life. No adversity is too great to be unsolvable, as long as you have a clear objective with the things you apply yourself to. I often think back to a Swedish radioprogram that I heard a while ago, called ”Sommar i P1” with the swedish political commentator Alice Teo- dorescu. She studied law at Lund University and after her first exam, she was extremely nervous about whether she had passed it or not. When she brought it up with the prefect of the faculty 3he simply replied that those who failed the first exam would not have anything to do at the program. She failed that first exam, a major defeat for her even without the words from the prefect, but she did not quit. Instead she managed to finish the program, maybe not through the obvious and certain manner she had envisioned but by adjustment. History is full of people who have been faced with misfortuen and turned it around to their advantages. Take the inventin of post-it notes for example. It’s most important not to get stuck. Thinking about other peoples stories and knowing what they managed to overcome is a major inspiration and somthing we humans crave in times of difficulty.
So, to return to Brexit and Trump’s victory, we might not know where this new road will take us, but it is not the end of the world as some might harshly conclude. Perhaps, you do not like the way the world is spinning at the moment, but only noticing down- sides and pointing fingers won’t help. So far, we have not really seen what the result with Brexit and the Trump presidency is, and assuming the worst does not make it true. If you are against the path the world has chosen, you need to work to move that path closer to the one you want, maybe simply by achieving you own goals. Setbacks are rarely fun and can often create uncertainty or disbelief in yourself, but it is important to not let it steal focus from the things that energize and drive you forward. In the end, things have a tendency to turn out better than you ever even expected.