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College, goals, and knowing your purpose

About three weeks before the end of a semester, there’s a buzz in the air. Just as the smell of an early spring morning reminds us that change is (finally) coming, so do the panicked students lined up outside my office concerned about their “very confusing” last assignment remind me that change is near. Students are cramming to complete their assignments. Professors are wondering how they’ll grade everything in time. Some students are getting their caps and gowns ready for the big day. There’s a lot going on when something is about to end, and that’s precisely when so many of us lose sight of why we’re doing all of this in the first place.

When life gets crazy we have to make an extra effort to get focused – not on completing our tasks (we’ll get it done; we always do) but rather on our purpose. We have to ask ourselves, “Why?”

Why is it important for me to finish my papers?

Why does it matter that I go that extra mile now?

Why should I continue to give extensive personalized feedback on student papers and presentations? Do they really read it anyway?

It’s important. It matters. And, yes, most of them read the feedback.


Because everything we see for ourselves in the future is made possible by the little decisions we make today. Success is not achieved in big, singular moments. The marathoner doesn’t win the race when she crosses the finish line. She wins the race every time she gets up at 5:00 am in the rain to train. The black belt doesn’t obtain his rank when he passes his 4-hour Tae Kwon Do test. He’s a black belt because of thousands of hours of training and the countless bruises and sprains he’s had through his years of training. The end goal just affirms that which we have already proven we are.

A runner.

A black belt.

A college graduate.

A professor.

We can only achieve what we set out to by constantly reminding ourselves why we’re doing it in the first place.

You're a runner because running exhilarates you at your very core.

You're a black belt because you're centered when your mind, body, and spirit work together.

You're a college student because you desire the knowledge that will lead you to great places.

You're a professor because you're inspired to help others learn, grow, and achieve their goals.

One could easily say, "I run because I want to win a marathon one day," or, "I go to college because I want a degree." Deciding what you want is very different than understanding why you want it. The only way we can truly experience the joy of achieving our goals is to understand why they’re important to us in the first place. It’s not enough to just want. You have to desire. When we desire something, the reason for that intense feeling is at our core. There lies why we want it.

Why are you doing what you’re doing? Know the answer and your goals will be that much easier to achieve.

The destination is so amazing when you know why you took the trip in the first place.

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