In the land of learning

Last night, I finished reading Start by Jon Acuff. Mentally, I’m working through all that I have read but I had an “ah ha” moment.

For the past few years, I’ve been working to get into a PhD program. Last year, I finally built up the courage to apply to three programs and was rejected from all of them. This was a huge blow. I started to doubt if I could do the work required for a PhD program because of these rejections. Many of my colleagues told me to keep at it and try again. I contacted one of the schools regarding my application. The head of the program recommended two things: to get my GMAT score up and take Calculus.

Being me, I jumped in with two feet and started to go. I took Calculus I over the summer and did well. I enrolled in Calculus II and purchased an online course for the GMAT. This is where I got stuck. Calculus II is HARD. It is without a doubt the hardest class I have ever taken. I skated through my undergraduate and master’s degrees with very good GPA’s. I’ve never had to study the way I have to in Calculus II. The little voices in my head started to pipe in. Clearly, I cannot do Calculus II, they would say. Clearly, my dream is dead.

But the dream is not dead. I need to learn Calculus. It is not going to come easy. I need to put in the time to learn it. Facing my fears when it comes to trying to do something that doesn’t come easy and punching them in the face (as Jon would say), has helped to reinvigorate my efforts.

Last night, after I came to this realization, I heard myself give advise to one of my students. It’s actually from a conversation we had on Friday. My student was struggling with some of the material we were working on. When I asked her questions it was clear she was struggling with an aspect of chapter 1, but she was trying to do work from chapter 3. I told her she needed to go back to the beginning and solidify her knowledge of chapter 1, then chapters 2 and 3 would come easier. Today, I am going to apply that same advise to my own situation. Today, I’m going to go back to the basics and solidify those concepts before trying to move on.

As for the GMAT studying, I have got to set priorities. Because the Calculus studying is taking up more time than I thought it would, I need to find time elsewhere for GMAT preparation. One way I can do that is to cut out some other things. I’ve really cut back my social media and relaxation time. I’m going to use the blog as a journal on my journey. Some of the activities I participate in are going to be paired back.

At one point in the book, Jon asks the reader to answer a simple question, “If you died tomorrow, what would you regret not being able to do?” One of my items was not getting my PhD. He later asks us to look at what we are currently doing to see if it lines up with that goal. We are all pulling ourselves in 90 different directions but are all of those activities actually getting us to the important items in our lives?

Today, I start to prioritize. Today, I start doing those items that are most important to get me to my goal. What will you start today?