Once upon a time, I met a guy called Daniel. He worked for a railway service provider and aspired to have a PhD. In fact, what he really wanted was to be known as Dr Dan!
PhDs are impressive; at least the people who acquire them are. Can you imagine all that time – 3 to 7 years – devoted to painstaking research; either to prove or disprove a theory? Not even a theory; a strand of a theory – a single question.
That to me is ‘Niching’ in the extreme; drilling down into an area, so specialist, that you’re only interested in information that helps answer the question you posed. This begs the question, ‘why would you bother?’
I’ve come across people with different purposes in pursuing PhDs. Some people just want to learn – there are easier ways! Others want to pursue a career that requires the degree. Yet others begin a PhD because they don’t know what else to do with their lives. Some people think it will make you respect them more. Go Dr Dan!
The point I want to make is that having a big aspiration is great; and stating your intention is even better because it forces you to take action. The tricky bit is following through. So, why would you lose interest in something you thought you wanted so badly?
The answer is we don’t always have an initial, sustainable reason for putting in all that effort. This means you’re more likely to give up as soon as you hit a serious hurdle, declaring “it seemed like a good idea at the time!”
I use the example of a PhD here because I’ve lived with friends through their experience of acquiring one (or not); and observed the highs and lows. Five years is a long time to be studying outside of the day job; and I’ve witnessed how easy it is to lose sight of the reasons they embarked on this journey in the first place.
So, if you have your heart set on accomplishing something big; make sure you’ve weighed up the pros and cons and that you’re willing to make the necessary trade.