When reflecting on the journey of the past 7 years, a journey through academics, work, family and faith, it is amazing to realize the capacity of the human being and our ability to find balance in our lives. I completed my Ph.D. in Business Administration from Northcentral University in April 2017, a journey which included many challenges of managing full time employment, raising 3 children, balancing my relationship with my wife and during my final steps, caring for and saying goodbye to my father and grandmother.
My academic journey was inspired by a personal goal to complete the education that I had started 18 years before and to demonstrate to my children the value of education and skills in developing lifelong success. When I decided to return to the classroom as a student, I was already successful in business having owned and operated my own company and as a leader in another business venture. This success was predicated not on formal education, but skills and trade training, I believe the combination of both skills and formal academics would provide a better foundation for my future and make myself more marketable in any future aspirations. Indeed, my sons have developed a strong understanding of the value of education and the need for skills development and having sell-able skills within their chosen career paths.
The path to Ph.D. begin after completing my MBA, I was approached by a friend who encouraged me to go back to school and earn a Ph.D. He said, “we can do It together” – “it will be fun” and he provided the program information for review. Well, I started, and he did not – 7 years later I completed and was awarded my Doctorate, I still harass him a little bit about not starting the program, but I thank him for the inspiration.
There were many challenges along my path that had to be overcome. Being a family man who is and always will be committed to my wife and children, finding a balance with a goal of never causing my family to suffer was imperative, as I understood this was my burden to carry, not theirs. This required me to focus my time for school work around family needs including time needed to participate in events at school and church for my kids, while remaining committed and supportive to my wife and our continuously growing relationship. Planning and time management were key to finding balance in work, school, and family. Additional challenges occurred during the last 3 years of my education, my dissertation phase, as my Grandmother’s and Dad’s health began to decline, and the assistance needed by them increased, caring for their needs increased my personal stress as I again attempted to find a balance in my life while managing the commitments to family, work, and school. I often reflect on how the completion of my Ph.D. coincided with my Dad’s and then Grandmother’s passing, it was a time of completion in many ways.
It is wrong to think that I did this alone, I did not there were and are many people who assisted me along my path. My wife and family held me accountable for my choices and supported me as I found balance. My siblings provided sounding boards to bounce ideas or provided me with an outlet to complain about a challenging professor. Friends that provided needed distractions from life, school and work, keeping me sane in the process. It is my opinion that while I did the required course work and research to earn my Ph.D., my family and friends, support network, also have a stake in the completion of this degree. Without this support network, I would not have been able to find balance or hold on to the determination needed to continue in my degree path – they provided me with purpose through their support.
Completion of my Ph.D. was goal that was needed to support my future life plans. At some point, I will retire for the industry that I have worked in for the past 26 years. When I make this change, I have the goal of teaching full time at the college or university level. For this become a reality a terminal degree is required and as such the goal was set. Reasons for going to school, earning a specific degree, are specific to the individual as each of us is different in our desires and aspirations. When you assign a desire and aspiration to the goal you will be motivated.
To the student, when choosing to set a goal understand that you will not always be able to “Do It All” that you will have to choose between going out and having fun and school responsibilities. Finding a balance and learning manage your time effectively is and imperative, not only in school but in life. Allow yourself to make friends and develop a support system that will challenge you, provide insights and provide you with the ability to disconnect and unwind, have fun, from time to time. Set the goal and continue to work toward the goal knowing that challenges will occur, and you will be able to work through the challenge and persevere.