After decades of formal and informal education, an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree and advanced training programs I have come to the conclusion that without a doubt I must secretly like the thrill of a deadline, the pressure of an accomplishment, the stress of procrastination. I must, there’s no other way to explain why I put myself through the agony, through the sleep depriving stress if I didn’t. Here I am now in my mid thirties still using the same methods that I had used in my mid to late twenties and early thirties in accomplishing my educational goals now for my career advancement trainings.
It was less than a year ago that I decided that I needed to work on career advancement. I needed to take courses to further add skills to my portfolio and resume and take a more proactive role in my agency in implementing changes and taking a leadership position. While working as a state employee does offer a sense of security and stability, moving up the “corporate ladder” per say is challenging and competitive. And so while I don’t see an immediate opportunity for a promotion or advancement at this time I am always on the lookout to advance my own skills and seek personal development whether personally or professionally and so I decided to apply to a career advancement program through the state. I prepared my application, my objective and my questionnaire responses all within the same week as the deadline. I obtained management approval and signatures four hours before the deadline. By the grace of God, myself and one other colleague from my office were accepted among the other hundreds statewide. I would be participating in classes that would specialize in workplace presence, project management, diversity, inclusion and engagement, interpersonal skills, impactful presentation skills, stepping up to supervisor and project presentation. As someone who has obtained a master’s degree in Human Resource development with a focus in training development, implementation, execution and being a private consultant for my own business I have had a decent amount of experience attending and implementing such courses. The content and the class attendance was by far no challenge but my secret “thrill” to working so close to deadlines and racing against the clock would prove to be as it always has been in the past.
Project proposal? Sure.
I waited two weeks before it was due to begin thinking about it and developing it, and 24 hours before my submission was due my creativity juices kicked in and the passion for what I truly wanted to execute and implement would surface. It was beyond a doubt that racing against the clock in this circumstance worked in my best interest. It was at the last minute that divine intervention overtook and my true passion would come to be and out went the initial project proposal and in was my passionate drive. Five hours to the deadline I had obtained supervisory and management approval. Last minute stretch. My proposal was accepted and I thrilled and motivated, encouraged and inspired and eager to begin and then… life happened.
I enrolled in a consecration class through my church taught by missionaries from Colombia. Initially the class would involve one night a week for one and a half hours. I could make this happen. I could do it. In time the missionaries realized that in order to properly lead, educate and prepare us for our consecration that we would have to attend class two nights a week and for two hours at a time. In addition to these evening classes we were required to attend two full day retreats, one long weekend retreat, homework assignments, videos and in depth readings and self analysis. In the past working full-time and attending classes while raising a family had proven to be a challenge. A challenge that I accepted but one none the less. This has proven to be just as equally challenging.
Life happens like that. I either have too much time on my hands or too many responsibilities at once. It’s never a fine balance.
There is no such thing as a balanced life only a prioritized life. Because I had committed to both the career advancement program and the consecration and because I had already given my word and my name was out there, there was in my opinion, no turning back. Our name and our word is all we have and I am a firm believer in living with integrity and following through on your word.
Months passed, I continued (and still continue) to attend the classes for my consecration and the classes for my career advancement. Though the consecration became more of importance to me as it was filling my soul and healing parts of me that were long overdue for healing I also realized the impact that procrastinating on my project development was causing me. “Let’s not talk about it now” I would state to my colleague. She had long ago began her project development and I had yet to even review the proposal I had submitted months ago. “I am so stressed I just need to take a weekend to focus on it” I would tell those who inquired on the process.
However, those of us who are parents, especially those of us who are single parents can attest to how busy our weekends are. Weekends in my life are not for lounging and wasting time. There are the household responsibilities, the more recent church gatherings and retreats, sports games and practices and the occasional ” I need to change up my life with spontaneity, let’s drive an hour plus out of our area just for lunch, or a change of scenery”. Even with the occasional cancellations and rainy days, being indoors with two children is still taxing with the “I’m bored, can we go somewhere” or the ” we never do anything fun” teenage disputes. I quickly realized that the only way I would begin developing this project was to use personal time away from my place of employment and without any children.
I caught viral laryngitis. It took a week of having no voice and using SIC time from my employer to successfully begin my report for the state. It took a month before my deadline to execute surveys and questionnaires that would support my hypothesis and findings. What I easily believed I would complete in a full weekend turned out to be more detailed and time consuming. I found myself frequenting my favorite coffee shops and ordering a variety of lattes and caffeinated beverages and chocolate drizzled croissants to change the scenery and focus on the task at hand.
I found myself stress eating everything and anything in sight when completing my Final Review Submissions, my powerpoint presentation and my 14 page report. I found myself excited, passionate and driven and when I completed my Powerpoint presentation I found myself with tears of joy. Tears of joy that I don’t recall but may have fallen when I accomplished my master’s degree. Tears of joy that I definitely recall with the relief of completing my bachelor’s degree. Two weeks until my presentation before the state is due and my report, review and powerpoint have all been completed. Two weeks before my presentation and my dress and blazer hang pressed and crisp in the far left hand corner of my wardrobe. Am I thoroughly done with my project? No. There are findings and surveys, questionnaires and interviews to be reviewed but now I can without a doubt state that those will all be completed before this upcoming week comes to a close. I can now say that the challenge of time management and balancing work, family and spiritual life can now stream in a synchronous manner. Do I love the thrill of a deadline and racing against the clock? In some odd way I do. The pressure and exhilaration gives me an adrenaline rush, one that pushes me to accept the challenge and see its success but another thing I also like is my time. Time to cook healthy meals, go for long walks, time to read and write and enjoy life. Time to sleep and tonight I will do just that. I surpassed this time. I won the race against the clock and tonight… tonight I shall sleep.