The last few months have been intense for me to say the least. I can honestly say that I have never studied this hard in my life. It wasn’t that the material was all that difficult. But the difference was that I wasn’t being paid for the course or title this time. The Army made schools easy. You went to the school and that’s all you had to worry about. Yeah the pressure was intense, but your focus was school. I have a new found respect for the guys I had finishing degree’s on their own time in addition to working full time.
Supporting my wife’s new career, pulling more weight at home, working full time and studying like a mad man for almost 6 months was way more difficult than I thought. I had to give up a lot of things I wanted to do but that’s ok. That’s always going to be the case when you want something bad enough.
More than three years ago, I got lined up with a mentor through American Corporate Partners and the whole idea of getting my project management professional certification began. I did some research but I didn’t really have someone to truly explain what it meant. So I let it slide. For whatever reason, it stuck with me and I finally met a few good folks that guided me along the application process. Once I was accepted, I scheduled my exam.
Trying to teach yourself from a textbook after not going to school for the better part of a decade is the exact opposite of what you should do. The funny thing is I already know how I think and best study and decided to try something new. End result? 3 months of studying and a failing grade. I wasn’t confident that I knew the material and it showed. It was so bad that I couldn’t even be mad at the score. Enter Ranger Buddies and the Post 9/11 GI Bill.
I took a month off of studying and signed up for a boot camp course to learn the test and immerse myself into the material. I thought IMLC and Jumpmaster were like drinking from a fire hose. This was like drinking water at the base of Niagra Falls. What I failed to realize is that the knowledge was already there. I knew the material but had no idea how to organize it. So in four days, I basically learned a new language and came up with a game plan.
Over the next week, the typical life stuff happened. Sick kid, sick wife, and a few extra hours at work. Late night studying and finding every second that I could to rehearse throughout the day. I studied the same way I did in Jumpmaster and avoided all the traps that I fell into during IMLC and another school, Ranger. When test day came, I was distracted to say the least. I left work to study a bit more and finally just went into the center early. I couldn’t take it any more. I stuck to my test plan and it worked. Never the easy path for me but I get there. Hitting the finish test button was the most nerve racking moment that I’ve had in a very long time. But it was either doubt myself or just go.
So what now? Who knows. And right now who cares. I’m done and I’m gonna enjoy my Christmas break and some good old fashioned PT. The big thing for me is that I did something. I know more than I did before and I accomplished what I set out to do. Another thing that I relearned is how to listen to friends. Had it not been for them pushing and encouraging me, I don’t think I would have gotten there. It doesn’t matter who you are, you are not going to have all or even the best answers.
Folks might be out there wandering around wondering what to do next. But in truth we all are and we always will be. Where I am right now is alright, but I want more. There’s more to do and always will be. I think it’s good to be lost sometimes. To me, once you start moving, you have a lot more options when you don’t have an ultimate goal or grand scheme. And it’s times like these that relying on your friends and family that is most critical. Listen to them.
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