Back to school

By Holly Vincent | Jul 24, 12 09:29 AM

At 29, Premium member Holly, left her full time job and became a full time mature age student and she couldn't be happier!

After taking a business management college course last year, I developed a desire for more in life. More knowledge, more challenges, more creativity and more drive. My motivation was spurred by the monotony in my then job as an Executive Assistant. The company’s exhaustively coined ‘structural change’ cycles made me question where I was at in life and whether this job was giving me fulfilment. The answer was I felt invisible. I realised my life path had become faded, discoloured, stretched and pointed in the wrong direction. The realist in my head kept nagging, ‘You won’t be happy doing this job in another few years – you’re not really happy now’.

I faced the truth. I needed to change now otherwise in 10 years’ time my path would be a dusty sidewalk and un-fulfilment would turn into regrets. I came clean with myself and accepted I needed to shift; my thinking, my routine, my values and my direction. I enrolled at QUT studying a Bachelor of Business full-time. The opportunity cost of full-time secure employment initially seemed greater in the short-term (there were times I wondered whether this would be punishment or investment). However, four months into my degree, my choice has affected my life in more ways than anticipated.

The initially trade-offs to earning a very decent wage, doing a straight-forward job that I could do with my eyes closed and one arm tied behind my back, the security of a regular monthly wage could prompt any reasonable person to ask why rock the good, stable, reliable, boat? These were my fear-factors that held me back for some time. The more I researched pathways for careers in finance and economics, sought advice over coffees with friends and colleagues working in the field, I started thinking outside the box on the other key elements that would influence this shift. Namely my earning capacity. (Knowledge is valuable, but it’s not a payment option on my electricity bill.)

Firstly, I simplified my living expenses. Careful consideration revealed the majority of my expenses were work-related anyway (dry-cleaning, new suits, shoes, transport, morning coffees, lunches, etc.). When I quantified the actual amount needed to live comfortably and pay my bills, I established a new monthly budget with ample breathing room and allowances for fun times

 Putting my life-shift into perspective, three years of living on a lower wage would not affect me in such a detrimental way, given I already had years of savings and investments behind me from being in the workforce. Secondly, applying as a mature-age student took some guts. Over-whelming fears from my own vanity about age, my fear of failure and constant questioning of whether this was the right choice or whether I’m too old to commence a bachelor’s degree. Would I be embarrassingly pegging for my mundane old job back within two months?

Surprisingly, your mind adapts to anything – the secret is to remain open. Once my mind-set changed to I was a uni student and I had freed myself from job-rut, I viewed my life-shift as a positive challenge. To further quantify my shift, I had made it through travelling and living overseas for years on my own, renovating my first home at 22, failed relationships and witnessed my father’s struggle and death from cancer. There was no reason for me to sit on the sidelines any longer.

Success is generated from many small positive steps which accumulate into the end goal. I break my goals down into stages and each stage is a step towards changing my career. One small success generates another and keeps me motivated and focused. I now devote the same energy and passion (and more) in my studies and community-based aid support projects.

Looking back a short four months ago, not only has my knowledge based expanded significantly, but my belief in my abilities to achieve my dreams are burning bright. I now value myself higher for deciding to invest this time in my future. Nothing is ever too hard once you break down the self-doubt barriers. Building stepping stones to achieving my goals were the tools that allowed me to dream, innovate and inspire – starting from within.


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