Wednesday, May 19

Year 1 Completed/What I Have Learned

On May 6th I completed my first year of doctoral study at CMU.

Along the way I reflected on the process of graduate school often and have come to the conclusion that it is not a question of whether I am CAPABLE of earning a Ph.D, instead, what am I willing to sacrifice to be a member of the 1% of the population who reach that level of education? Am I willing to sacrifice adequate sleep, exercise, balanced meals, personal time... apparently. What am I not willing to sacrifice, my family. My children are an amazing reminder that there is life outside academia. They help keep me centered and striving for balance.

Have I found balance? It depends on which part of the semester you ask me, "Maureen, do you have balance in your life." Reply: (beginning of first semester) "Why, yes, I do have balance in my life. I am a mother, spouse, employee, mentor, student... and I am home to cook dinner every night." (end of first semester) "Ummm... not currently but I will take what I have learned from this experience and apply it to achieving better overall balance next semester."

Sometimes life gets in the way of preparation: (second semester) "Balance, what is balance? I was sick for two weeks over Christmans break and began the semester already tired, got behind mid-semester due to many variables beyond my control and played catch up the remainder of the semester. I slept little the last 4 weeks, very little exercise, on campus many evenings...." No balance there.

Determination and acceptance go a long way in helping you achieve balance on the way to reaching your goals. I am determined to use part of my summer to prepare for fall semester so I can be at home most evenings to cook dinner and listen to my children chat about their days and I will accept that there is likely no such thing as perfect balance in life. Life is ever changing, just when you think you have found balance, your dog vomits on the pant leg of your suit as you are leaving in the morning thereby setting in motion a chain of events that delays all scheduled activities for the day causing you to miss lunch and evening exercise.

Note to self: A doctoral program takes a great deal of commitment. Just accept that there will be times of imbalance and learn from those times. What are you willing to sacrifice and what are you unwilling to sacrifice? When you get a break, reflect on what you can do to achieve greater balance the next time around.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.