As you may or may not have seen me mention on an Eff Em Friday, I’m in the process of studying for my Professional in Human Resources certification exam. Back in January 2010 when I was spiraling downward in a job I hated, I made the investment in the study materials so that I could take the exam in May 2010 and add to the credentials on my resume to make me more marketable. At the very least, I could look for jobs in the HR field in the interim and confidently say I was studying to take the test and committed to being the best professional cookie baker and benefits questions answerer on the block. That was then and this is now.
I ended up with a new gig in May 2010 and transitioned from Boston to New York City. And with the new job secured and a ridiculous amount of transition-related things to worry about including a rapidly deteriorating relationship, I ate the exam cancellation fee and focused on what was to come in a new and dirty city full of aggressive people and Halal food trucks. That was then and this is now.
My manager spoke to me a few months ago and shared with me that part of the reason he hired me was because I was planning to take this exam. It showed drive and dedication to becoming a professional in my field. When he found out I hadn’t yet rescheduled the exam, he added it on as a goal to accomplish by January 31, 2011. To make it even more official and urgent, the cost of the updated study materials and exam fees came out of my professional development allotment. That was then and this is now.
So here I am doing something that I initially wanted to do for my own self-improvement, but now have to do because I committed to it when I interviewed and because the company is watching. It’s November 3rd and the clock is ticking. With each day that passes, my focus increases at the same rate as my stress. And just like I normally do when I get flustered, I revert to cleaning and getting organized. My discipline comes back and I find myself returning to the same habits that got me into college and my last 3 jobs.
Here I am returning to a focus I haven’t seen in some time not because I really want to, but because I have to. As you get older, the consequences of your actions increase tenfold. If I choose to come home and watch hours of television instead of write, my new writing gig becomes old news and I’ve lost a reference in a field I ultimately want to pursue. If I don’t study at least 1 hour every day and burn through 150 pages of HR material per week, I’ll create an insane amount of anxiety around test time and most likely fail. If I fail (I test poorly in general, not just in relationships intentionally), I not only lose credibility at work but I will have also wasted the company’s money.
When it’s my money and my project, it can be with lackadaisical effort. But when someone else is impacted by my efforts and ability to come through in the clutch, it’s full-steam ahead until a job well-done. It’s something that I can’t afford to fail monetarily or otherwise. The aha epiphany here is:
How do I get from things being urgent because someone else is watching or requesting them to things being urgent simply because I set the goals for myself?
It’s an ongoing question and one that is slowly but surely starting to get answered. Motivation isn’t always easy, but if you can find out what fuels it then you won’t be cramming the day before the test. And the less you have to cram, the more likely you are to pass with flying colors.
Mind in these books and in the gutter when I’m done,
P.S. Check out my guest post on Ashy2Classy titled 4 Things We Can All Learn From Rick Ross other than #thatgrunt. More positivity and goodness.
P.S.S. Yes, I wrote a post with redeeming value based on Rick Ross.