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I was doing some work today in a High School, working with 16/17 year old pupils, when I was asked why it was important to know what you want to do. This was a genuine question and raised an interesting point. Bizarrely, it also made me think of Andy Dufresne.

Here’s the way i see it; Knowing where you’re going gives you purpose, purpose gives you motivation and motivation means you keep going when the sh!t has hit the fan and is covering every wall, if you know what I mean.

Lets put it into the teenage example we were working on today. Many teenagers are not huge fans of studying, I know I wasn’t when I was at school, and there is little chance of ever making something like Higher Maths fun for more than a handful of your pupils. So how the hell do you help them find their motivation?

Well, for me, that’s where knowing where you are going helps.

Any time life gets difficult, when it feels like you’ve hit the wall, when you are faced with a task and every cell in your body wants to do something else, the thing that makes the difference between those that succeed and those that give up is the knowledge there is something worth fighting for, the ability to look to the other side of the dark moments and see something light, the acceptance that to get everything you want sometimes means you’ll have to crawl through sh!t to get there.

Knowing where you are going, even if its just a rough destination, and knowing with every cell of your body and ounce of your being that it will feel great when you get there, is the thing that makes all of life’s bumps and humps worth travelling over. When you lose that, when you lose that ‘pull’ of the future, that’s when it becomes easier to give up, to simply settle for what you have (even if its crap) and then life becomes a waiting game rather than a journey (this comment, although accurate, was rated 4/5 for Cheesiness by the Blogging Fromage Committee). As an example, when people in crap relationships lose any hope that the destination can ever be finding their own true love and personal companionship, many give up on themselves and use their children as a destination. It manifests itself in the statement ‘we’re staying together for the kids’ (i.e. I’m using my kids happiness as a destination to make this sh!tty relationship worth staying in even though I hate it and it saps my self esteem and confidence every day I’m in it”). Waiting, just waiting, until their kids go off and find their own destination…then what do they do? What’s the destination then? Cue lost middle aged people looking at each other over an empty dinner table.

Knowing where you are going matters, wanting to actually do something about getting there even more so. I get it, sometimes it can be scary to admit that you know where that place is, especially if you have no idea how in the world you’re ever going to get there or people might look at you funny when you tell them but it’s not about being there tomorrow and its definitely not about other people. It’s just about taking a first step in the right direction and doing it for yourself.

That’s what I said to the kids today; this isn’t about enjoying studying or looking forward to exams. It’s about doing what you need to do because it matters to you and your future.

That’s what made me think of Andy Dufresne, because he said so eloquently “Remember, Red. Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things and no good thing ever dies”.

Take baby steps to start, my friend, just baby steps…

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