Friday, May 2, 2008

out of school, what next?

During the course of getting my degree we had a professor that warned everyone to be careful while getting certificates or more education. He had a theory, based on his own life, that once you start the habit/hobby of learning, homework, deadlines, writing, challenging your thought process, that it is much more addictive than you realize. If you aren't careful, you will find yourself continuing education in one form or another just for the habit of it. This is okay, but it can take a real toll on your family life and social life.

I remember when he talked about it and nearly the entire class laughed at him. No one could conceive of such a thing. Want to go to school? Absurd!

Since my classes are over and I now have a list of things that have been put off that is nearly long as I am tall, I find myself waking up, thinking "What did I forget? Something is missing." I find myself on weekends wondering what it is that I have left undone as I go to bed.

Wow, as I counted it up, I have been taking classes since August of 2005. I find I need to change my perspective. While it would be nice to get an area of specialty to go with my degree, I don't think I want to go back to classes just yet. But I need another challenge that has an identifiable goal.

So I have been talking to my boss and networking with other managers and directors for what next, professionally. I am ready for something new, what direction should I take my career? There are a lot of opportunities and I was just recognized by my company for my leadership skills and my team's outstanding contribution to the organization. Should I move up within my own department or move laterally to broaden my experience? I have found that since classes are done, I am anxious to move on to something bigger better. I feel I am ready and have the drive.

But is this anxiousness a result of the hole created because I am not in school taking classes? Am I addicted to the need for challenge, the need to complete the next task, the need to get an 'A' for passing the next level? Could my professor have been right and known what he was talking about?

All of the positions I have looked at will be challenging which will mean that I will have to devote a little more than 40 hours a week to learning and identifying my gaps and filling them. Then I will devote time to being the best in that position. This means time away from my best friend, Wife and my fantastic daughter.

I watch other leaders in the company, people I respect that have families, struggle with the balance needed to be there and experience their children's lives while devoting their time and energy to leading and driving their department to meet and exceed their goals. To be successful both professionally and personally.

I want that challenge to show that I can balance it all and have it all. However, I am sure that I will need to learn new skills to be more efficient and to be successful at making sure that my family doesn't feel neglected.

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