Contentment with mediocrity inhibits goal fulfillment

By Bailey Bryant

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m far too easily irritated. 

Like most people, I have pet peeves. But rather than comprise a short list, mine, if compiled in its entirety, would fill a book the length of “War and Peace.” 

I grit my teeth at the use of the term “Bdubs” in reference to Buffalo Wild Wings and wince at the sight of every “woman crush Wednesday” post on Instagram. Never would I eat a meal with someone who scrapes his teeth on his fork, and forget about window-shopping. 

Thankfully, during this time of year, I’m able to avoid the one thing that annoys me the most: the acceptance of mediocrity.  

Whether the New Year or the new semester is to credit, in January, the majority of people have concrete goals. They’re looking to better themselves and giving their best efforts to do so. 

For example, if people are unhappy with the way they look, during this time of year, they often work to change that. People are less content to continue with a lifestyle they don’t love. They start to do the things they’ve always talked about doing. 

Gyms are full, and classrooms are occupied. 

People adopt new mindsets: This year, I’m going to lose weight. This semester, I’m going to score higher. I’ll swear less and volunteer more. 

The resolutions that people make, whatever they may be, are almost always geared toward self-improvement and goal fulfillment. 

But sometime during February, rationalizations begin, and resolutions are forgotten: I’ve had a long week, so I deserve to eat unhealthily. My friends aren’t worried about this assignment, so I can put it off. I’m too stressed not to swear, too busy to volunteer. 

People become complacent. They stop pushing themselves to achieve their goals and become content with running in the middle of the pack. 

What bothers me isn’t unhealthy eating or poor scoring. It’s your prerogative to swear, and maybe you actually are too busy to volunteer. 

Failure to follow through on these simple goals is a manifestation of the problem I too often see: people abandoning what they care about and settling for a mediocre version of what they want. 

Understandably, priorities sometimes change and circumstances can make some things impossible, but, often times, I hear of people abandoning their ambitions simply because they seem difficult to achieve. 

I’m baffled by the amount of people who don’t apply for the jobs they want because they don’t think they’ll get them and frustrated by the many who dream of auditioning for plays but never get around to it. 

I couldn’t imagine failing to pursue a goal to the best of my ability. 

My biggest goal, my dream, is to work at a major publishing house in a major city, and I won’t be content until I’ve done everything in my power to make that dream a reality. 

I know my prospective employers will care mostly about my real-world experience, and I’m under no illusion that I could secure the job I want without that experience. 

And that’s why I spend my days interning at the University’s Office of Technology Management and my nights copy editing at The Daily Illini. 

Sure, the luxury of mid-day naps and evenings watching Nick at Nite would be nice but not nearly as enjoyable as the satisfaction I’ll feel the day I land my dream job. 

I do what I have to do now so I’ll be able to do what I want to someday. 

And that’s how you achieve a goal: hard work and dedication. 

If you want to do better in school, sacrifice to do so. Skip that third episode of “Friends” and hit the books. Spend Sundays at the library. Go to your professor’s office hours. Do anything, everything that you have to, and, almost always, you’ll succeed. 

The same goes for other resolutions and dreams on a larger scale — your ideal job, house or life. Anything.  

A mediocre input only guarantees a mediocre return, something I think people often forget. 

But for me, when it comes to dreams, goals and ambitions, there’s no greater disappointment, nor anything more bothersome, than those who choose not to pursue them.

Bailey is a junior in Media. She can be reached at [email protected]