“Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, “It might have been.” ― Kurt Vonnegut
Aside from the bucket list (which for some of us, might have the outlandish to the downright unusual), we all have a list of skills we want to learn, but for one reason or another haven’t got round to doing them, or found the time to do so.
The irony is that whether you’re busy working or busy parenting – or juggling both – you probably have more time than you realise. In my own experience, I’ve found that it’s a case of prioritising and being determined to follow in your dreams.
To some it may be seen as selfish – putting yourself first for once – but the benefits far outweigh the criticisms, and those that really care about you will be supportive and proud. I know my associates and friends have been really encouraging including Mary, our Editor of course.
I enrolled on four counseling courses with the BSY Group a few years ago, as further self-development to help me focus my research for projects, enhance my people skills for clients, families and friends alike. But having paid for the courses, life just seemed to get in the way.
When I finally got round to completing the course a couple of years ago, I can honestly say that it was the best decision I had ever made.
These are some of the things that I learned throughout my journey.
Have a Study Buddy
Fortunately, I have a couple of close friends who were doing their MA’s at the same time, and one of them is a life coach.
On a regular basis we would meet for lunch, swap books, discuss aspects of the exams and the course work, share our anxieties and our successes.
If you are thinking about taking the plunge into studying, I’d encourage you to have a study buddy. It’s a great way to spur you on. I’ve also helped fellow students with editing and proof reading their assignments, which I’ve really enjoyed – being able to read the passion of others is a real privilege.
Don’t neglect your family/loved ones
If you are thinking about studying and you’re in a relationship or have family responsibilities, do communicate with them beforehand and let them know what’s likely to be involved.
From time to time, they’ll see you disappear under a mountain of books and could feel neglected. (Some of my Christmas cards included comments from friends saying how they had missed me throughout the year).
Incidentally, distance learning can work really well for you if you have family responsibilities, as you can usually study flexibly at your own pace.
Apply what you learn as soon as possible
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” ― Benjamin Franklin
I’ve learned that the true value of what you are learning is when you apply it to real life situations. My bereavement projects are near on ready; one is now with a national charity and the other with my newly appointed agent. I also know that my chosen subjects helped to add credence to my writing.
My knowledge and interest in mindfulness came in extremely handy for a new client, and I know more consultants are applying holistic theories to their work. (A medical consultant told me recently that a lot of health charities are looking to adopt holistic approaches to recovery and illness management).
I found the positive comments from tutors on my assignments really spurred me on to complete the next lesson and proceed to final exams.
We’re never too old to accept compliments and I was thrilled when I was told that I’d been nominated for an Adult Learning Award for 2015.
Excited as I am, I also remind myself of my mother’s words ‘It’s the taking part that counts’. But watch this space.
Not only did I manage to complete the four courses, I passed them, to my own amazement, with Distinction.
What I’ve enjoyed overall
I have had an amazing time reading brilliant books as part of my reflective research. I was already doing this to a certain extent as part of my research and self-development while writing serious bereavement projects. But I suddenly found myself making the time to read more.
I have written book reviews and had some amazing debates with friends over dinner, and have felt very positive and intellectually alive.
I’m also fortunate that I still have several mentors who continue to inspire me on my own journey.
Believe it or not, I’ve even benefited from joining the Students Union and having a discount card, for trendy clothes, pizzas and various other discounts. Being a recycled teenager at heart, it has been a terrific year, and being able to buy discounted Prosecco at a well-known supermarket was a bonus at Christmas! (I was recently described as ‘cool’ by one of my daughter’s friends so maybe I still have it…whatever ‘it’ is).
I guess my message would be that you’re never too old to learn, and never too busy to consider improving your skill set.
Your growth, in terms of emotional intelligence, is rewarding and everybody around you benefits too.
Watch out though, my enthusiasm is contagious!
Annie Manning MASC (CBT)
(Age Quintastically Young)