Quite a few months ago, I awoke at 3:00 AM with what I am calling an epiphany. Seeing in big picture, the visual appeared in that early hour. It was a three-year layout of where I would like to be in my career, my entrepreneurial self, and in my learning journey. It was a plan, and I was open to the realization that plans can (and do) often change over time. Over the past few months, I have seen that happen, with the potential for some items called out on the plan to dissolve, others to grow, and timelines to shift.
One area of the plan, my learning journey, launched just over six weeks ago. The organization I work for full-time added an amazing benefit of tuition deferment with certain academic institutions and programs. Tuition reimbursement and amazing coverage has been around for years (and helped me achieve much of what I have accomplished today academically), but tuition deferment was new within the last six months.
In the midst of my PhD program, I met a woman at a residency that told me about a program called Industrial-Organizational Psychology. I was immediately intrigued and went back to my room that night and looked at the requirements for the program, and whether I had the ability to easily transition from the Organization and Management program I was enrolled. It was not that easy and would add years (and tuition dollars) to my journey, and I was already quite far in my current program. Despite not being able to make that transition, the program focus stayed in the back of my mind.
Within a few weeks of graduating from my PhD program (in Organization and Management), my husband and I were sitting down to dinner and he asked what I was going to do next. I looked at him and said (with a straight face), “I would like to go back to school, but I can’t afford it.” He thought I was nuts, as I’m sure you are nodding your head in agreement with as you read this. After spending 16 years going to school (while working full-time throughout), it had given me a structure and opportunity to learn and grow both personally and professionally. The six months following my graduation was a difficult time for me, almost a mourning period (which only some of my fellow long-term student friends may be able to associate).
Fast forward five years (to today), and I am enjoying the opportunity to go back to school, focusing on Industrial-Organizational Psychology – the focus that I learned of for the first time so many years ago and never forgot. It was quite a bit nerve-wracking sharing with others that I am a student again. I have heard, “what’s after a PhD?” and “a double master’s?” and “you’re nuts!” Learning is in my blood and having the structure of this program is helping me to focus in an area of great interest. Maybe I am a bit nuts, but I am also a role model for others that yearn to continually grow. Don’t be afraid to take that step. Maybe it’s not school for you – and it’s not for a lot of people – that is okay! Go for what you want. Maybe it’s not something you can do right away, but don’t let a chance get away from you. It took me over five years until the stars aligned so I could immerse myself in this opportunity, and it has been an amazing journey just in these last six weeks (throughout my first course).
What are you doing to continually learn and grow? Have you started into a professional development book lately? Attended a webinar? Taken a workshop? Networked with others in a career field of interest?
I am interested in what is happening in your learning journey!