My Last Goal for 2016: I Will Nurture My Aspirations

black woman smilingReal life is sometimes the greatest deterrent to living. Bills, family obligations, career limitations, unexpected health emergencies, and a host of other issues can sometimes lead us to step away from the things that make us truly happy and fulfilled. For a very long time, I thought that I had to do the safe thing even when it didn’t feel like the right thing. I’m not about that life anymore.

In 2016, I am going to champion my aspirations no matter how difficult they may seem.

In 2014, my family and I embarked upon a massive cross-country move from California to Illinois. It was one of the first times in my adult life that I chose to chase after my aspirations rather than ignore them. Since then, so many of my goals have been lining up, becoming more and more attainable. I can only credit my first step out on faith with those successes.

In 2016, I am going to continue this trajectory. I am going to stop treating my aspirations like impossibilities. Instead, I am going to work harder to cultivate them even if they are not something I can do right now.

This requires that I take several key steps:

First, in order to give my aspirations the firm foundation they need, I will have to believe that they are actually possible. Taking the “road most traveled” sometimes makes us believe that an alternative road doesn’t even exist. This is sometimes a byproduct of existing while Black in the United States; it is also a consequence of social conditioning which tells us to reach for the easiest point of gratification rather than the one that takes a little more work. This year, I will stop treating my goals and aspirations like the red-headed step-children of my life’s experiences. Instead, I will give them priority.

Second, this 2016 goal means that I will need to invest time into researching the career and personal milestones I have set for myself. The first step to accomplishing anything is knowing how to accomplish it. I can say from firsthand experience that being completely unaware of the avenues to reach one’s goals won’t get you there any faster. In essence, part of nurturing one’s aspirations is actually understanding 1) what they are, 2) how to achieve them, and 3) the right timetable for starting the process. I learned this in my twenties when trying to figure out how to plan the births of my three children while working in corporate America, getting a master’s degree, and planning to get a doctoral degree. I have found that putting my dreams up on a shelf only to dust them off once the opportunity is upon me is not only unhelpful, it hinders forward movement. My greatest successes have come when I took time to invest my efforts in cultivating my aspirations well in advance of their actual arrival.

Lastly, nurturing my aspirations requires that I not surround myself with naysayers and haters. Living a life with nurtured aspirations means that there can’t be negative pressures from those who would prefer me to remain complacent and unmoving. I have already written post after post  after post about what that means for the types of friendships I’ll be maintaining. I can’t have people around me who project their personal failures and inconsistencies on me. But, even more importantly, this means that I won’t be allowing any negativity into my psychic space at all. Whether friends, family, or otherwise, I won’t entertain trolls.

In all, I am looking forward to a healthy and productive year. To do that, I have got to believe in myself and my goals. I can’t keep allowing distractions to keep me from taking myself seriously. Truthfully, people will watch you fail and cheer you on while you do it. Last year, I worked on developing the discernment to see them for who they really are. Now, I just have to have the courage to step out and chase my calling.

This is my year.


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Jenn M. Jackson

Jenn M. Jackson, PhD is a co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Water Cooler Convos. She is a native of Oakland, CA. Jenn is a radical Black feminist scholar who believes none of us are free until all of us are free.