Are you thinking of something new but not sure where to begin? Have you had a dream to visit a new place, go back to school, try a new career, take up a new hobby, live a more healthy lifestyle or experience an exciting new adventure? What is stopping you?
When I was growing up in Kenya, I had no idea that I would one day end up in a winter wonderland known as Canada. I was 20 years old and one sunny August afternoon, I waved goodbye to my family in Nairobi and embarked on a new adventure as an international student. After a layover in Dubai, London and New Jersey, and one missed flight later, I arrived in a surprisingly humid Montréal in the middle of the night, wondering what had possessed me to leave the comfort of my home and family for this strange new place. It wasn’t long before I had my first experience of snow, frolicking in the soft snowflakes like a bedazzled child.
Despite the challenges of transitioning to a new culture, I feel enriched by my experiences and have learned to be more open-minded to new situations. The more I allowed myself to get out of my comfort zone, the bolder I felt to try more and more new things. After a stimulating research career in the pharmaceutical industry, I am finally pursuing my dream of becoming a physician, and have just submitted my applications to medical school!
This new journey is daunting though! There’s a plethora of unknowns: Where will my children go to school? Will my husband be able to find work if we move? What will become of our friendships? How will this affect my family life? I have had my shares of worries, doubts, and guilt at possibly turning my family’s life upside down. The route to our goals, dreams and aspirations is unpredictable and rarely unfolds as planned. But this is what can make it such an exciting adventure! I have learned to try and enjoy the steps towards getting to my goals and be proud of the attempts I am making even if there are some failures along the way.
So how does one start something new? The tips below have helped me navigate the sea of worry and to sail confidently forward knowing that no matter what happens, I will have tried my best and will have no regrets:
- Take a first step: Some goals can take several years to achieve but even just taking a first step is a step in the right direction. It could be as simple as doing some initial research online, registering for a class or talking to someone knowledgeable in the area you are interested in.
- Don’t be phased by negativity: There will be those who may question why you are doing what you are doing, they may even think you are crazy. Aside from constructive criticism, ignore naysayers who try to bring down your vision and goals.
- Get advice or find a mentor: Finding someone with the right experience who can guide you, challenge you, connect you with others and counsel you can be very beneficial in helping you achieve your goals.
- Determine to keep going: Even if you fail at first or it is taking longer than expected, don’t give up! A failure does not mean your dream is not meant to be! A determined attitude from the outset will help to keep you motivated during those more difficult periods of your journey.
- Recognize fluctuating emotions: Our feelings are what make us inherently human. They are also variable and unpredictable. Even on those days when negative thoughts or emotions may try to convince you to give up, don’t give in! Acknowledge the feelings and find ways to address them such as speaking to a trusted friend, writing about it or even seeking a change of scenery.
- Be open-minded: When we are running towards a goal, we sometimes have preconceived ideas of exactly how and when it should happen. Life does not always happen as planned and it helps to be open-minded to other ways to achieve our goals. An obstacle here and there should not hinder us from ultimately getting to where we need to go!
- Look at the potential pros and cons: If unsure about whether to try something new, drafting a list of potential benefits, risks or pitfalls can help us to determine if a proposed venture is really worth pursuing.
- Build a support network: Be proud of your decision to even contemplate trying something new! Don’t be afraid to announce it for fear of failure. Even if you do fail, your support network will be there to help you pick up the pieces and get back in the saddle. Have a circle of trusted friends and family who are aware of your plans and can give you the physical, emotional and mental support you need.
- Document your journey: Writing about your journey towards your goals is a great way to inspire others to greater heights and also to keep track of your evolving personality.
- Be bold: Have confidence in your unique abilities. There has never been and there will never be someone exactly like you. Your unique combination of abilities is what makes humankind so versatile and refreshing. You have something distinctive and important to bring to the table! Go all in and give it your best shot!
Malaika Awori-Gunther was born and raised in Kenya and moved to Canada to pursue a degree in Biochemistry and minor in Music at McGill University. She is a wife, mother, scientist, musician and an avid reader. She is currently applying to medical school in Canada to fulfill her dream of becoming a physician.
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