Going Back to School

by Kelly · 1 comment

in Thoughts On Frugality

This week is exam week and my last week of school. It’s been a fun and challenging year, on many levels. Next week I’ll be talking about what I’ve learned and where I’m headed, but for the moment I have my nose firmly buried in the books. I’ve decided to republish this post, which originally appeared on my first day of school, September 8, 2008.

Today is my first day of school. I’m starting a Masters in Marketing program at a local university. I’ve been planning for this day for more than a year, without ever really being sure that it was going to happen. It was only about a month ago that I was approved for the government grant I had applied for last year. Without this grant, going back to school would have been financially impossible; there was no way I could set any goals without knowing if I was part of this program or not.

So therefore I was in a state of limbo for the past year, at least as far as future projects went. That’s a difficult state in which to live, not knowing how much money I would be earning, where I would be working, when and if we would be moving… you name it, I didn’t know it.

In fact, the situation I was in was like any other sort of transition: unemployment, changing careers, company take-overs, cross country moves etc. And in my opinion, not knowing where you are going is especially difficult when you are not in control of the outcome.

So how do you set goals or make plans when you don’t know what is going to happen? Here are the two ways I handled it.

  • Control what you can. OK, so I didn’t know if I was going back to school or back to work. But I did know that I would be signing my children up for reading classes in English, so I had to prepare and plan for that in my budget.
  • Accept that you can’t control everything. You can call it giving yourself up to a higher power, accepting the inevitable, or just resigning yourself to the situation, but I find that accepting things helps when there is nothing else to do. There was a point at which the waiting seemed interminable. Stressing about it made it worse and certainly didn’t help the decision happen quicker.

How do you handle situations when you can’t plan for the future? How do you set goals when you don’t know what you’re aiming for?

{ 1 comment }

1 Sherry May 12, 2009

Congrats on returing to school!! (I know you’ve been at it since 9/08).

I returned to school as an “adult” learner & found it to be a wonderful experience. Having been a single Mom for years, what a gift it was to myself to learn & grow & experience so many wonderful things. Talk about rejuvenating one’s brain! It was awesome! Good for you!

To answer your questions:

1. How do you handle situations when you can’t plan for the future?
There may be lift choices that we can not anticipate the outcome, but in my mind, there is very little that can’t be planned. Maybe I misunderstood your question, but here is my take…
When I returned to school, I still needed to pay the bills, buy the groceries & make meals & care for my son & home. My life as I knew it prior to school, really did not change. But I did have to find time to study & figure out how to go to school & work. These changes DID affect my family but most of the changes affected me. I had to cut out TV & use my “free” time more wisely.

To “globally” respond to your question; we can’t anticipate illness or death. But there is very little that we can’t PREPARE for….we can make sure we have debt cleared away, our homes organized, money in the back & food in the pantry. We can also take care of our bodies so we can optimize not only our health but have the best capabilities to respond to stress & unexpected devastations. Emotionally, we can “also put our affairs in order”. Are we carrying around excess emotional baggage that unnecessarily drains us?

So, maybe I misunderstood your questions, but there is very little in this life that is unexpected if we are prepared. If we embrace the storms in life, the rainbows are all the sweeter.

How do you set goals when you don’t know what you’re aiming for?

I guess my response harkens back to the answer to my first question. We may be uncertain about our career choices or where we want to live. But our core values, being a good partner, good parent, good person, should be the goals we are striving for on a daily basis. In doing so, we will feel the support & love of others which in turn will make those periods of “confusion” a little more palatable. We will also feel an increased sense of being or truth in ourselves which should help clear away the smoke of confusion.

HTH…..sorry if I misunderstood….

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