Q. I didn’t finish college back when I was young and now would like to get my degree. Money isn’t the issue, but I’m puzzled and disappointed by the lack of support I’m getting from others around me (both at work and in my personal life). What should I do?
Zanna, 44, customer service manager
A. Follow your own vision, while making sure you’re finding the best way to move forward.
Congratulations on your resolve to continue your personal development. Making that commitment to yourself is no small thing and positions you well in life for continued growth.
In understanding the situation, there are a couple of things to explore. First, think about your motivation for completing your degree.
The lack of a degree may have been an impediment to career advancement, even if you have the skills and experience you would need to succeed. To what extent is your desire for a degree driven by the need for the credential?
Or you may want to move into a different area of work, which requires acquiring new knowledge and skills.
And you may just be craving the learning environment, being back in the classroom focused on learning outside of your everyday work environment, and with less of a professional driver.
Now consider the reactions you’re getting.
Some may be practical. For example, your employer may be concerned that you’ll be overextended. If you’re asking to flex your schedule to take classes during your normal work hours, or if there is some other effect on your workplace, provide a specific plan to ensure your employer’s needs are met.
And if it doesn’t have a direct effect on them, then it’s frankly none of their business!
Take a similar look at the effect on family and friends. If you have a spouse/partner or kids, they will be affected by new demands on your time and it’s only fair to find a way to make it work for all of you.
But some of the reactions may be from naysayers who just don’t understand why you’d do this. If you’re looking for people to cheer you on, this could be disheartening.
Sadly, this isn’t uncommon. People who are stuck in their own ruts often feel threatened by others who are breaking loose. It’s worth it to give them a chance. Talk about the reasons for their lack of support. You could learn something useful that improves your plan.
But if they just don’t want you to change, like the status quo, don’t see it as a fit for you, etc., then they could be just trying to hold you back for their own comfort. This is especially problematic if it’s among family members; it’s easier to shrug off the reactions of co-workers.
It’s important that you own your vision. The more passionate and positive you are about it, the easier it’ll be to find people who will support you and bring around those who may have reservations. The key is that you’re fueling it from within while not going it alone.
What challenges do you face at work? Send your questions to Liz Reyer, leadership coach and president of Reyer Coaching & Consulting in Eagan. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.