A rather personal post today, after an unintentionally long absence. Read on and you’ll understand why.
“You can’t do that. You’re insane”
I have deliberately messed up my work-life balance this year, adding study to my already hectic life. And of all things, I’m attempting a law degree. Yes, it’s one more ball in the air, and a really big one. Friends and acquaintances who have heard of my endeavour have fallen into two camps – the first who think I’m crazy and the second who’ve congratulated me on my lofty scheme. Both camps having valid concerns and I admit to wondering myself whether I had lost my marbles, but now that I’m about three quarters of the way through the semester and still chugging along, I think I might not be so crazy after all. So why did I do it?
Living without regret
It was not easy, making this decision. I reviewed the variables, tried in my perfectly rational way to assess the cost-benefit, worked through the logistics. But there was no clear cut answer. The turning point came when I thought about the issue in a completely different way, asking myself whether I would regret doing this? Then it became perfectly clear. Even if the decision to proceed was not the right one, I wouldn’t regret having tried. At worst, I’d decide it wasn’t right for me and I’d have incurred some fees, but it would be a another stepping stone in life’s journey. On the hand, I would almost certainly regret NOT doing it.
Testing the boundaries of “impossible”
In attempting the slightly insane, I wanted to test the boundaries of “impossible” and wanted to prove to myself that they are that little bit further that I think. This was unknown territory. The last time I did formal study was doing a post-graduate diploma fifteen years ago, and I coasted along one subject at a time. I say “coasted’ because I didn’t have half the commitments I do now. Today, I’m older, I’m a parent of young children, I run a business and most of the time, I’m tired.
I had doubts and I was afraid. Still, I decided to go ahead and I started the semester with a full load of four subjects. The rationale being, that I don’t know what I’m capable of until I actually give it a go. Four weeks into the course, I hit a wall and realised that I had taken on more than I could chew. Four subjects was too much and I was paying too steep a price for it.
The greatest danger for most of us is not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim low and reaching our mark ~ Michelangelo
Knowing your limits
I decided to drop a subject and carry on and while it is still a challenge, it is a manageable challenge. It made me wonder about all the helpful comments I got at the beginning, about taking it easy, about easing myself into it one or two subjects at the time. I have a contrary view. I believe that once we get stuck in a comfort zone, it is incredibly difficult to get out.
I had one chance to use ignorance to my advantage. If I start on one or two subjects, that’s where I would stay. Conscious also that time is not on my side, I realised that plodding along at one or two subjects per semester would mean a degree that would take up to ten years to complete – a thought I couldn’t bear!
So my strategy was to jump in with both feet and eyes closed! The result is that I know what my genuine limit is, and it’s not an imaginary one constructed by my mind – a little less than I aimed for but more that I and everyone else thought was reasonable in my circumstances. And, I’m happy with that outcome.
On reflection, I wonder how often our comfort zones define what we think are our limits. What do you think?
- Pushing past self-limiting beliefs – a personal story
- “At least I tried….”
- Fear vs comfort – which is really holding you back?
- “Tipping points” and “dips” – the value of persistence