I spent the weekend at the University of Phoenix celebrating the culmination of a five-year doctoral degree journey. I am happy to say I am now officially, Dr. Mary Ann O’Neil!
I have come to realize that achieving this goal offers many lessons learned to those around me. One obvious learning is that it is important to write down our goals. I had written “Earn your PhD” on a Goal Planning Worksheet in 1983. When goals are written and accompanied by a specific plan on how to achieve them, we are best positioned to complete them. I have accomplished all my life goals now except one which I shall begin working on this week.
I will admit, my plan was to achieve my PhD many years prior yet there were so many more important things that put my academic dream on hold temporarily . This leads me to a second learning: Sometimes things get in the way of our dream and temporarily delay the accomplishment of our goal. I experienced many things that took priority over my academic dream. There were five children born within seven years who needed my attention, a career that needed branding, and clients who needed my time. There were weddings that needed planning, relationships with grandchildren that needed to be created and solidified, several geographic moves, and unfortunately a few kidney stone surgeries along the way.
It was actually the recession and the consequent lack of work, that afforded me the time to put all my efforts into the writing of my dissertation which brings me to a third learning: Sometimes when there isn’t much to do, we can do great things! I was no longer designing or delivering workshops and traveling all over the country, and found myself with a lot of time on my hands. I quickly realized there were just so many tennis balls I could hit in a week! I decided to focus on my dissertation as though it were my job and that enabled me to complete the 285 page document —a very good use of my time.
A fourth learning I hope my degree sends to my grandchildren is we are never too old to learn. The daily opportunities to learn are endless if we are open to learning. We learn in the classroom and in the kitchen, on the lacrosse field and in yoga class, while being with others and being alone. We learn from people who are older and those who are younger, those who speak loudly, softly or not at all. We learn from plants and animals and our environment. The teachings are there, we just need to want to learn.
And a fifth and final learning is that when we accomplish a goal, especially one that requires that we work hard, we feel good about ourselves. And I do, today I really do.
I think as women with high SUCCESSTROGEN levels, we set goals and write them down and often put them on temporary delay as other things in our lives take a higher priority. We are aware we are learning all the time and enjoy the process. I think as women, we also manage our moments well and so when there is a cancelled meeting or a “snow day”, instead of wasting time, we take care of the extra moments. And we know that” feel good feeling” when we have accomplished a goal.
What about you? Have you defined some goals for yourself? Are you working on them, or are they on delay? Are they written? Will you accomplish them?