Students are fed the consistent message that they can achieve anything in life if only they just work hard at it. They are in control of their future. But students are also aware of the fact that much of their future is out of their control and that no matter how hard they try, they will never achieve certain things. These two forces– the internal force of their own desires and the external force of the world acting upon them– conspire to shape their life experiences.
Self-motivation is an important skill for students of all ages to master. It’s important for students to reflect upon what motivates them to do their best. The challenge with self-motivation is to find exactly what triggers a person to become invested and interested in something enough to see it to completion. For some, motivation is more feeling-based; for others, more thinking-based. Whatever the trigger, when that trigger is found, there are few limits to what a person can achieve.
Goal-setting is thought to be a skill of highly successful people. Some students are really good at it. They map out their life events with certain outcomes in mind. Other students just want to ‘go with the flow’ and goal-setting makes them nervous and unfulfilled. The value of goal-setting is in dispute and, therefore, students must decide for themselves how they want to integrate it into their life activities.
Success, students are told, comes from doing well in school, building friendships and finding the right career. The only problem is they aren’t told exactly how to find this success and whether actually loving what they do should even be a consideration. As a result, it’s important for students to develop a self-awareness around what success means to them and how they plan to get it.
An ambitious person is confident and self-motivated, both of which are qualities we want to see in our students. But ambition sometimes gets us into trouble. We have to compete with others over scarce resources and that causes us to be selfish and uncompromising. There are other people in the world and we have an ethical obligation to think about their needs as well.
Going through hard times is something most everybody has to do. Some people face hardship and turn away. They become discourages and think that success is unattainable. Others see hardship as an opportunity for self-motivation, goal-setting and a fresh re-evaluation of values. Students must determine whether to see hardship as a barrier or an opportunity, and accept the consequences underlying the choices they make.
Happiness is one those concepts that students talk and think about a lot, but rarely define. They are encouraged to motivate themselves to set goals to achieve happiness but the path is never laid out with any clarity. Reflecting on what happiness actually is can help students become more self-aware of what they value in life.
Anger is an emotion that all of us have to manage throughout our lives. Students get angry with their teachers, their friends and parents. It’s important for them to develop a self-awareness around their anger so that they can decide when getting angry, or remaining calm, is the right response to a situation which aggrieves them.
Ask the students what they dream about and you are sure to get a wild variety of interesting answers. Students dream all of the time and some use them to set lofty goals for their life pursuits. Others see dreams as fake pictures of reality. However they are viewed, thinking about dreams is a chance for students to become more self-aware about what they value and what they really want out of life.
Many students don’t like rules, and that’s because rules often make students turn against their consciences and deny what they think is right. Yet obedience to rules is necessary for stability. Schools can’t function without people buying into the rules. The tension between obedience to authority and following one’s conscience is always present.
Fear is an emotion we can all identify with. Fear causes stress and discomfort, and makes us do things we would not otherwise do. People react to fear in different ways. Some remain calm; others lose control of their mind which causes even more distress. Dealing with fear in productive ways is an important life skill that helps us manage stress.
The Coronavirus outbreak of 2020 has driven society into isolation. Schools are closed. Businesses are shut down. Our social lives have stopped functioning. And we’re at home with much more alone time. Isolation can breed some sadness and despair but also offers a chance for us to reflect and evaluate our lives in a positive and meaningful way.