What’s holding you back?

I took these notes about a year ago. They may look like gibberish to some of you, but they mean so much to me.

Almost exactly a year ago on May 2, 2019, I was visiting Columbia University SIPA as a prospective student. Since I wanted (and still want) to work in international affairs, this was my dream graduate school. Specifically, I wanted to get involved in international development and education.

So here I was, sitting in the hallway of Columbia University. I attended 2 lectures, spoke with students, and learned about their internships and plans for the future.

But instead of feeling inspired by them and confirming that this Master’s program is indeed what I want to do, my mind went in a completely different direction.

I thought to myself: If I want to make a difference in the life of international students, what is holding me back from doing it NOW? Who is to say that having a graduate degree is a prerequisite for that?

I fast forwarded the next 3 years of my life as a hypothetical student at Columbia SIPA. I realized that I’m just postponing things that I truly want to pursue. In particular, there was absolutely nothing stopping me from working on an education project I started way back in 2017 (Path2CollegeUSA).

I hope you can relate.

How many times do we delay things that we truly want to pursue? We give it the most reasonable excuses, too:

  • “I don’t have a Business degree to start my own business.”
  • “I don’t have a Marketing degree to manage social media for a small business.”
  • “I don’t know SQL, so getting a job as a business analyst is out of question.”
  • “I didn’t study Finance in school, so I won’t pass the Series 7 exam.”
  • “I don’t have a Computer Science background, so how on earth do you expect me to become a QA Engineer?”
  • My personal favorite: “I didn’t go to film school, so I can’t make movies.”

I think it’s really important to have a real, honest 1:1 with yourself and ask: “What’s holding me back from pursuing this?”

Be ruthless to anything that smells like an excuse.

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