I’ve decided to go back to school. Not for a Masters or Doctorate degree, and not by attending classes along with other students, or by taking classes online and working independently. Instead, I’m designing and following my own curriculum.

The reason I’m doing this is that it occurred to me recently that there are a number of activities and events I’m involved in – both personal and professional – that I am having trouble accomplishing for various reasons. My big revelation was that many of the issues I’m dealing with now can be compared to situations I handled easily when I was in school.

This isn’t about any specific classes I took or what I learned in them. The real education was simply going to school. For example, the work I do now focuses on three different areas: writing, coaching, and speaking. Sometimes I feel as though I am a juggler, and the advice I often hear from others – including the “experts” – is to focus on one thing, do it extremely well, and let go of everything else.

Even though I understand the wisdom and the reasoning behind this advice, it doesn’t work for me. Nor do I want it to.

And I shouldn’t have to. When I was in school, I could take five to seven classes at the same time, and handle the workload in all of them well enough to get decent – and sometimes outstanding – grades. Even during midterms or finals, when I had tests to take or papers due in virtually every class, I managed to get everything prepared for and completed on time. I knew in advance what was expected, and I figured out what I had to do to accomplish it. I set priorities, paced myself, and allowed for plenty of study time, as well as for free and fun time so I could relax and recharge.

Today, however, I don’t always do that as efficiently or effectively as I’d like, which is why I decided to go back to school. September is the logical time to start, and if I consider now till the end of December as my first semester, I’ll finish up at the same time the “grown-up world” traditionally evaluates the year’s accomplishments and sets goals and priorities for the next one.

I’ve made a list of my courses of study, which include some faith and personal growth areas in addition to the professional “classes” I’m focusing on. I’ve listed on my calendar the appointments and events that are already scheduled, and made note of what I need to do to complete them successfully. I realize I can fulfill basic requirements for a passing grade, or do more work and additional projects for extra credit and a higher grade. I decided I’m going for straight A’s, although I won’t beat myself up if I don’t quite reach that goal.

Changing my mindset is changing how I look at all the work I do, and the goals I’ve set for myself in all areas of my life. I’m really looking forward to school starting now. And I’m determined to make the grade.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on September 3, 2015.
©Betty Liedtke, 2015

What habits or routines from your “school days” could you make good use of now? I’d love to hear about them! Please be aware that all comments will be moderated and approved before appearing on this blog. This is to protect all of us from unwanted spam.