Tackling a lost mindset at university

As a university student, one might find themselves navigating through a maze of academic demands, career choices, and personal growth. In such a turbulent transitional period, it is no wonder that at times a sense of being ‘lost’ can come to settle. The overwhelming pressure to excel, coupled with uncertainty about the future can leave many feeling disoriented and disconnected from their goals. However, it’s important to remember that this feeling is being ‘lost’ is a common experience for many, and there are steps you can take to tackle a lost mindset, rediscovering direction and purpose.

Acknowledge and embrace

The first step in addressing a lost mindset is to acknowledge the feeling and ultimately accept it. It’s perfectly normal to have moments of doubt and uncertainty during your young adult life, especially at university. Understand that you are not isolated in this experience, and many of your peers are likely facing similar challenges. By accepting and embracing these emotions, you can begin to explore the root causes and work towards finding clarity.

Reflect on passions and values

Take the time to reflect on your values and passions. What activities or subjects bring you joy and fulfilment? What kind of impact do you want to make in the world? By reconnecting with your core values and identifying your passions, you can gain insights into the direction you want to take. Consider engaging in activities outside of your academic curriculum that align with your interests. Join student organisations, volunteer, or participate in extracurricular projects that resonate with you. These experiences can help you explore new paths and regain a sense of purpose in them or your pre-existing interests.

Seek guidance and support

Remember that you don’t have to navigate this journey alone. Reach out to mentors, advisors, professors, or even your friends and family who can provide guidance and support. Universities often have resources such as career counselling centres or student support services that can help you explore your options and provide valuable advice. Talking to someone who has been through similar experiences or has expertise in your area of interest can offer fresh perspectives and help you find your way. However, don’t just religiously follow the advice given to you, instead pair it with your own ideas to come to a verdict.

Embrace growth and flexibility

It’s essential to embrace the notion that personal growth and self-discovery are ongoing processes. Be open to exploring different paths and allow yourself the freedom to change course if necessary. University is a time for exploration and experimentation, and it’s okay to make adjustments along the way, embracing growth and flexibility will empower you to adapt to new opportunities and challenges, enabling you to find your path even if it diverges from the initial expectations you first set out with.

Set small, achievable goals

Sometimes, the feeling of being lost stems from a lack of clear goals or objectives. Break down your long-term aspirations into smaller, achievable goals. These goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). By setting smaller goals, you can create a roadmap that will guide you towards your larger objectives. Celebrate your achievements along the way, no matter how small, as they will serve as reminders of your progress and keep you motivated.

Practice self-care and well-being

A lost mindset can be mentally and emotionally draining. It’s crucial to prioritise self-care and well-being as you navigate through this period of uncertainty. Make sure to maintain a healthy balance between your academic workload, personal life, and relaxation. Engage in activities that help you relax and recharge, such as exercise, meditation, or pursuing hobbies. Taking care of your physical and mental health will provide you with the energy and clarity needed to rediscover your sense of direction.

Don’t compare yourself to others

In today’s interconnected world, it’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others, especially in the competitive environment of a university. We often measure our success, accomplishments, and even our self-worth against those around us. However, constantly comparing yourself to others can be detrimental to your well-being and hinder your personal growth. It’s important to embrace your individuality and focus on your own journey. The idea that you may be falling behind compared to those around you is not a healthy trap to fall into, remember, you need to be in the present to become your future self. Everyone works at their own pace, whether that’s first to the line or the last, sometimes it’s good to be the tortoise in a race with hares.

Final thoughts

Remember, feeling lost is not a permanent state; it’s a temporary phase of personal growth and exploration. By acknowledging your emotions, reflecting on your values, seeking support, embracing growth, setting goals, and prioritising self-care and values, you can tackle the lost mindset and rediscover your path in university. Trust the process, stay resilient, and have faith that you will find your way. The journey may be challenging, but it is through these experiences that we truly learn, grow, and become the individuals we are meant to be. There is no such thing as a ‘right path.’