Raised in the church, I grew familiar with self-help discourse. By the time I was a teenager, I'd heard all about visualizing what you want, seeking out long term goals, and dreaming big. The language of the church was merely a directed form of what I was learning in school culture: to take risks, to make crazy decisions, and realize your dreams. This is familiar territory.
However, familiarity does not necessitate effective action.
Yesterday, while teaching The Great Gatsby to my Grade 11 English students, I came across the following overrun TEDx Talk as a jumping-off point for talking about visualizing your dreams: the idea was to show the students that Gatsby does it and this girl did it, and perhaps it's a good plan. It highlights the need to reframe, visualize, and realize your dreams. There's so good, pedestrian advice here. Although the TEDx Talk itself isn't well-executed, the speaker seems pretty happy with her ability to "program her mind for success."
As I tried to articulate these ideas to my students, however, I came to realize that I have no idea what I want. In bullets,
I'd like to be successful and apply these ideals to my own life, but when I can't even visualize what I want from life, well, it's a tough sell, even to myself.
Suddenly I realize that I may have fallen into the "No True Scotsman Fallacy" in regards to myself. I've decided that I don't know what I want and I don't know what I'm looking for. It's as if I'm thinking, "No true successful Jeff would...," and I can't help but think I'm misthinking this one altogether.
Let's rest on it for a bit.
The Internet Archive
YouTube: ephemeral ideas