small victories

Last year I finished a 2-year graduate program in order to obtain a 2nd master’s degree. This year as I celebrate the completion of the 1st year of my doctorate program, I have been reflecting on things I wish I’d done differently last year. Here are the 7 things I wish I’d done after the completion of that program.

  • Stopped moving. So many things shifted at the last minute, including my summer employment and a funding opportunity for the fall. I spent so much time focusing on creating alternatives that I never simply stopped to breathe, enjoy, and laugh.
  • Reflect on the journey. Once again, my thoughts almost immediately shifted from finishing up seminary to starting the doctorate program. BUT so many things happened while I was in seminary. While I journaled throughout the entire experience and spent about a year in some very expensive therapyJ, I didn’t take time post-graduation to just reflect on my experiences, relationships built and lessons learned.
  • Taken time off from work. The combination of a major deadline at work and so many financial uncertainties kept me going at all summer with very little vacation time. I will NEVER do that again.
  • Focused less on saving. I had no idea what the fall would bring, what costs would be associated with the commute to campus or what other unexpected events would arise so I focused on saving. I focused so much on saving until I worked for the entire summer. Needless to say, when classes were starting I felt like I’d had very little break at all.
  • Accepted compliments. People kept congratulating me and almost every time, I downplayed their well wishes with some snippy response about “Yeah, but I’ll be back in school in the fall.” I wish I’d celebrated this achievement, even as I was embarking on another journey in the near future. I wish I’d acknowledged how challenging it was and how hard I’d worked. I wish I’d recognized the significance of completing my degree AND doing so while academically, while balancing so many other demands.
  • Planned a grand celebration. My post-graduation, pamper me spa visit was nice, but I wish I’d planned a weekend away or dinner with friends – something significant to celebrate me and my accomplishment!
  • Made it a big deal! There I was graduating from one of the top universities in the country and I acted like it was baby cakes. I wish I’d made a big deal – spoken a little louder, acted a little more grateful, patted myself on the back.

Needless to say, these are mistakes that I made and will not make again! My cohort and I ended the first year or our doctorate program with both lunch and dinner outings. I’ve consolidated my work schedule for the summer to allow for a 3 and a half day work week. I haven’t signed up for any new projects or assignments. And finally, I’ve spent the last 2 weeks celebrating … celebrating finishing classes; celebrating submitting finals; celebrating each “A” that has rolled in; and celebrating summer. Lesson learned. Point well-taken. I am celebrating me and my journey, along with all the BIG and small accomplishments along the way.