Tuesday, January 12, 2010

To fit in something new, you have to take away something old

I was toying with different metaphors for the title of this post: one more ball in the juggle (too R-rated), one more log on the fire (too destructive), one more sandwich on my plate (too cutesy). But, in thinking about it, I realized that my juggle (or my fire or my plate) is already full. So to fit in something new, I have to take away something old.

First, the add: I'm trying to shift careers. I've spent the bulk of my working life in business communications as a writer, editor or project manager. I'm currently a contract worker and I'm fortunate to have a long-term gig with my former employer. I can put in as many hours as I want, but I'm trying to keep it to a maximum of 25 per week, which will leave me some time to do other things.

When I left my full-time job, I wanted to figure out what to do. I dabbled in online/magazine writing, which I love, but journalism is a dying--or at least low-paying--career. I waded back into the corporate world, which I sometimes feel is sucking out my soul. So, I've decided to try something that I love, or at least something that has some personal meaning to me. I'm studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer.

It's daunting. Not so much the idea of a career change--I can live with that--but the actual steps I have to take to do it. I have to study and pass a test!

It's been a thousand years since I was in college, and a hundred years since Grad School (which I never finished because life and jobs and pregnancy got in the way), so I have to remember how to study. In the past I was studying subjects that came rather easily to me. This is a whole new field, and I am dealing with a host of other priorities. I have a lot of sandwiches on my plate.

I know that I won't be able to find the time to study, so I have to make it. Which means it's time for some serious time management.

Here's how I'm going about it:

  1. Follow the plan. I'm studying for the American Council on Exercise certification, and they have a 20-week study guide that I can follow. I'm on week two, and so far I've been keeping it up.

  2. Schedule it in. I'm trying--with mixed results--to study for an hour each morning before I start work. Today I missed it, so I have to figure out a way to fit it in tonight.

  3. Relevel my expectations. I'm a Type A. I like things how I like them. But I have to give up some of this control, so I'm trying to realize that with my momunteering, showing up is half the battle. I don't need to prepare and things don't need to be perfect.

  4. Just say no. I was so proud of myself when I did this! Yesterday, I was asked to volunteer in Thing Two's art class but I said no (of course, I'll be at her Daisy meeting this afternoon).

  5. Ask for help. This has been a tough one for me, I but I have to start asking for help around the house (or letting things slide--see #3 above).
I know that people who have jobs and kids and lives go back to school all the time. There are tons of websites dedicated to it (here's one: http://back2schoolmoms.com/). But it's hard.

What I'm starting to realize is that you can't just add something; you need to take something away. So in addition to the steps above, I've deactivated my Facebook page, I've unsubscribed to tons of email newsletters I get, and so far I haven't taken on any additional freelance work. Pleasure reading is on hold and I'm avoiding reality t.v. We'll see if that's enough...because it's up to me to make sure that all my balls stay in the air.