Student Guide


/ 14 November 2021

What do you normally think about before going to sleep? My final thoughts (and I don’t think I’m alone in this) of the day consist of all the things I would need to do tomorrow. This has become a habit that is really hard to shake and it is one that I have a ‘love-hate relationship’ with.

Despite the debates about the reliability of personality typing systems, I am the kind of person who finds knowing my personality type helpful. I especially refer to the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator which dictates that I am an ENFJ. This means I enjoy relating with people (E – extraverted) while drawing more from my intuition (N – Intuitive) and emotions (F – feeling). It also means I like planning ahead and following an organized system (J – judging). With this, being sure of what I need to tackle tomorrow tends to put me at ease. It makes me feel ready to face a new day.

However, this isn’t always the case. It can be a pretty unhealthy practice as well. The trouble begins when I start to think past tomorrow and move on to the day after that and so on. This train of thought can lead to a seemingly endless cycle of planning ahead and ahead which can put you further away from ease while bringing you closer to worries. After all, there is only so much we can plan for.

True to the ‘J’ in ENFJ, I am the kind of person to keep so many planners. I plan my days, my weeks, and my months. To a certain extent, this is still a helpful exercise. By all means, be organized and keep a planner if you want to! However, if there is anything this past year has taught me, it is that life truly is unpredictable.

The further ahead I planned, the more frustrated I tended to get when things went differently. I felt a certain pressure to always anticipate changes and stock up on backup plans. The lesson I had to learn the hard way was to take things one day at a time. I found this to be my happy medium—I was prepared enough to feel assured but not too much to feel pressured. A day feels like a reasonable amount of time to plan for. After all, what will happen tomorrow usually depends on what happens today.

Another lesson I learned is to care for yourself by observing your own pace. It seems like everyone tends to pass this phrase around these days but it truly must be said and done. There is enough competition in this world, enough forces going against you—there is no need to be your own worst enemy!

I remember hearing the words “keep moving forward” from the animated film Meet the Robinsons (2007) and deciding then and there that I would live by them. At one point, I realized that I was using “keep moving forward” to encourage my adherence to toxic productivity. Afraid that I was being left behind by my peers, I pressured myself to keep going even when doing so proved quite detrimental. I forgot that taking a break does not mean you are doing ‘nothing’. You are doing something by resting and healing. None of this is a waste of time. What is necessary need not feel like a luxury.

As much as this is still my motto, I have come to add to this phrase. “At your own pace, keep moving forward one day at a time.” Quite cheesy, I know, but it rings true.