Making the imperfect perfect
When is the perfect time to just go for it and get an MBA? This is the ultimate question. Well, after having jumped in a couple of years ago and now being at a place where I can see the finish line, I can confidently say that I have THE answer for you. Ready? The perfect time is (drumroll please)… never. Yes, you read that right. There is never a perfect time for an MBA. There are many rewarding experiences that life presents to us and the ones that are the most rewarding never seem to come at the perfect time. Yet, they are in fact, the experiences that have a long-lasting positive impact and changes us in ways we never imagined. Pursuing an MBA is one of those experiences.
A few years back I was accepted to go into a prominent local executive MBA program. During that time, I was working, had younger kids, family commitments, church commitments and it just didn’t seem to be the “right time.” I asked the university to move my acceptance to the following year, which they very graciously did. However, when the following year came, there were more work and family responsibilities, kids were more involved with activities, and church and community work were still in high gear. Nothing had changed. The perfect time was never going to come so I decided to make the imperfect time perfect, and that it was the time to do it!
Ok. Decision made. Now, how does one go about making the imperfect perfect? We each have unique paths and things to consider, but here are 5 steps that helped me go down the road of making the imperfect time perfect:
First and foremost, it was ultra-important to get a sense of how the family felt about me going back to school. I am not married so the “partner support” aspect was not in scope for me, but for those of you who are, this is a critical first place to start. Is your partner fully supportive of the changes that will need to take place as you focus energies on school? Is your partner willing to get involved in the various activities? The Emory Goizueta program is fantastic as it involves partners as much as possible. In my case, I asked my parents for their thoughts and how they felt about helping to take care of kids while I would be in class during the weekends and their support was paramount.
Involve the kids
I’m a single parent of four kids whose ages at the time I started investigating an MBA ranged from 7 to 16 years old. School is a topic we all talk about regularly during dinner or whenever we go out to eat together. This time I asked for each of their thoughts and feelings on me going back to school. My pitch was “hey, won’t it be great for all of us to do homework together?” The two smaller kids were thrilled! The teenagers, not so much. But the main takeaway here is that the importance of education moved from something I, as a parent, always talked about to something my kids saw I was going to do.
Talk to your leader at work
Without support from your leader at work things can get complicated quickly. The Executive MBA Program at Emory required every other Friday to be an all-day on-site class, so naturally it was important to clearly get a view of what my leader’s thoughts were on this and work out the best way to accomplish this and still cover my work responsibilities. There are various ways to negotiate this and I would encourage you to think outside the box with flexible work scenarios.
Talk to a mentor
My selection of Emory Goizueta came after I approached a couple of professional mentors whom I highly respect. They didn’t tell me where to go; however, they did provide questions for me to think about. Do you want to become an expert at a field or be stretched beyond it? Which program will stretch you beyond your professional comfort zone? I had not considered these types of questions and yet they pivoted my decision to attend the program at Emory Goizueta as it would expand my thinking outside of the technology field I had been in for the last couple of decades.
Just go for it
These four words say it all. There will always be a million reasons to wait, or why it’s not the right time for it. At some point, I just had to stop the analyzing of all the pros and cons and decided to just go for it. Yes, a part of me was afraid just thinking of all that would be on my shoulders, not to mention that it had been over 20 years since I had been in school. However, life keeps going anyway and one needs to embrace the winds of change and decide to go for it and never look back!
Over the next upcoming blog posts, I will share more on each experience that has made the decision to “Just Go for It!” one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. Remember, there will be many times in life when we will need to make the imperfect times perfect for us. Let’s embrace and look forward to these times and position ourselves for the experience. So, take a deep breath, smile, and just go for it!