How not to reach your goals

Note: this is an unedited first draft. 

As I scour my vast archives for things to add to the blog I’ve come to the realization that I’ve written the words college degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, BA, MFA, MS, Ph.D. etc. literally thousands of times over the last 20 years. Sometimes it’s planned for how I’m going to complete my degree. Sometimes it’s in relation to the resume. Sometimes it’s in relation to my LinkedIn bio. Sometimes it’s about looking forward. But mostly they’re written among goal, dream, and future-looking notes and plans that I’ve made over the years. And while I was sitting down all the time. The one thing I was rarely doing was taking action toward that goal.

Mitigating circumstances aside (i.e., anxiety, depression, family goals, moving to opposite coasts, etc) I always seem to fail to act on any of the goals that I was setting up. I think some part of me hopes it would just magically happen. Of course, it didn’t. And here I am today, chasing the same goal. This time around I has a clear mind, a stable situation, and a very clear plan forward where I can make incremental and achievable steps toward them.

It seems like I was ignoring what I truly wanted to do for 20 years. Along the way I made the step to get my bachelor’s degree. But even that didn’t happen without a few stops and starts before I eventually nailed it.

I also think part of me expected the universe to just put me on the path toward it a lot sooner. But looking back I was not confident in the idea that I could get my degree. I didn’t think I had the support of those who supported me. My ex-wife would tell me that I didn’t need a degree. The business world hired me without a degree at companies like MLB, Google, and Twitter. But it’s like I have some moral imperative to complete this part of my life.

For me, it’s a bit of an anchor. Always has been. I deemed it to be some sort of failure. And I’ve held onto that failure for a long time.

I remember failing out of Rutgers the fires time and fretting about not graduating in four years. I wish I would’ve heeded the advice of others who said that it doesn’t matter if you do it in 4, 5, or 6 years as long as you do it. Cause that seems a lot better right now than 25 years.

I wasn’t prepared for college. I’ve said it a few times before, but I don’t think Rutgers was the right place for me. I also don’t think Seton Hall was the right place for me at the time either. If I had to do it all over again, I’d probably go to a very small liberal arts school. I really wanted to go to Virginia Wesleyan. I’m not sure I would’ve succeeded their either. It wasn’t until much later (21ish) that I learned the value of education. And I didn’t learn until I was 30 what was the most important way to go to college. Do what brings you the most joy. Because the major on your college degree doesn’t mean much unless your a doctor or a lawyer. And even then it’s your graduate degree that matters more.

Advice for those going to college now or thinking about it:

Read Cal Newport’s book: How to be an A Student, How to win at college.

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