When the going gets tough

December 01, 2021

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going”.

The tough get going!

Exactly who coined this phrase is unclear. It’s attributed to a few, however for the author it harks back to an 80s pop star Billy Ocean. Check it out. It’s got one of those beats you can’t help but stamp your foot to. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1S89K49BeBU).

Why should you care? You’re on holiday and you want to forget about how tough the year was, and party up a storm. We don’t blame you; you deserve it, well done! It has been decades since students last had to endure so much going on in the world around them. Things that affected so much of your everyday lives, not to mention your ability to stay focused on your studies. Many will advise you something to the tune of: “Never look back, look forward” or “Live in the here and now”. That’s poor advice if you consider it carefully. After all, we are all products of our past, our failures and our successes and what we learnt from them. So it’s important to look back from time to time and this is one of those times.

Look back, take stock

It’s important to analyse one’s failures, but just as important to analyse your successes. Especially considering you achieved them with multiple balls being thrown at you from every direction. ‘Balls’ is an understatement more like flaming meteors with spikes.

So now, more than ever, it’s time to pat yourself on the back and praise yourself for what you have achieved. Look back, take stock of what form those flaming meteors took and how you smacked them back into space.

Where do you start?

So much has happened, so for this journey, sit down with a good old piece of paper and a pen. The key here is to be alone in your thoughts without others disturbing you. Be in your ‘happy’ place where you’re most relaxed, if that means background music is on great, if that means in the garden, that’s great too. Have enough paper to make brief notes, no need to write a book. The idea is to identify your own milestones () both positive and negative and what you did to reach or overcome them.

Remember, this is not homework, rather a reflection of your achievements in overcoming your challenges. We promise you, reflecting on them will help you for whatever is still to come in the near and distant future. This shouldn’t take you more than an hour or two and if you don’t finish it in one sitting that’s okay too.

Start with your thoughts when you woke on January 1, 2021. A new year and a whole new opportunity.

  • Did you have goals?
  • Did you have a plan to reach your goals?

Write your answers to these questions. Remember, there is no prescribed way to do this. You can write one-word answers or add more context. Anything is fine so do whatever works for you.

Below is a table to help you with identifying your milestones, how you reached them, what you did to reach them, and where you may have stumbled. The first line contains the headings, the second is as an explanation of each suggesting how to complete it. This is just a guide – you may want to do it a different way. Note: Use only long-term goals that make the biggest impact in your life. Most people will have between 3 and 5. The way to get the most benefit from this exercise is use 10 maximum.


Subjects/Activities Month  Goals  Challenge/s Achievements Strengths & Weaknesses

The subject could be for e.g.

  • academic course
  • thesis
  • relationship
  • exams
  • sport etc.

When did you aim to achieve your goal e.g.

  • March
  • October etc.

What you planned to achieve in each subject/activity e.g. 

  • completing research
  • improving your mark/s
  • reaching the first team in a sport winning the intervarsity debate
  • making new friends
  • losing weight etc.

Hurdles to achieving your goals e.g. 

  • waking up to get to the library at 5am
  • finding a professor to back your research
  • eating junk food when you are stressed
  • finding a senior to mentor you
  • missing your parents, friends, boy/girlfriend etc.

How you overcame the challenges e.g. 

  • secured funding for your research by presenting a paper to a professor
  • found a mentor on the internet
  • got assistance from professionals in your field
  • changed your workout regimen
  • started a micro-business and used it as a subject for your thesis
  • cut down partying and drinking etc.

Which of your strengths you used to achieve your goals or get close. These may include your ability to: 

  • network
  • work/train hard now so that you have a better outcome in the future
  • read more books faster than your peers etc.

What were your weaknesses that held you back from achieving your goals e.g.

  • partied and drank too much
  • lacked self confidence.
  • you were too shy to engage with a fellow student or professors, etc.

Once you have completed the table, take some time to do two things. Note where you could have applied your strengths to get closer to the goals you didn’t reach. Second, note how you can take steps to overcome these weaknesses.

Keep all your notes and take them to university with you or to your new job. We can guarantee one thing: if you do this exercise, it will benefit you and make you a better, more competent person.

Don’t forget over the holidays to take time to reconnect with friends and family do things you used to love when you were younger. Tell your family and friends you appreciate and love them. Have fun, relax and get ready for 2022. It’s waiting for you to start all over again afresh. 

From all of us at The Fields, have a glorious holiday no matter what you celebrate – celebrate yourself and your achievements. Before we go we would like to leave you with this sentiment: “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Nelson Mandela.

We look forward to welcoming you back to The Fields – contact us nowto reserve your apartment.

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