In 2011, I was working six days a week in an exhausting job, unsure of my future, and dreaming of going back to school to work in healthcare. But applying to graduate school felt like facing an insurmountable precipice. This thing was icy and slick, bringing up all the hang ups I face when it comes to making the things I want happen: not knowing where to start, fear of failure, visions of a task stretching endlessly before me… So what did I do? I called in a nag. Working with Rachel, the ProNagger, literally changed my life. Here’s how:
1. Getting started: Rachel helped me recognize that it wasn’t a lack of capability or anything external to myself that kept me from getting started on pursuing me dreams; it was fear of failure and the anxiety I had about not knowing what I was doing or whether I was doing it “right”. Working with Rachel one-on-one, I was able to pinpoint the specific ways that these common fears manifest for me and how to overcome them.
2. Making a road map: Having been out of school for a little while, I didn’t have a guidance counselor to coach me step-by-step on a very involved application process. I was trying to figure out on my own how to build a competitive application and I felt lost. Rachel did short exercises with me that helped me think critically about what admissions committees look for. Then she helped me break down goals into small pieces that gave me a sense of daily accomplishment.
3. Evicting the perfectionist: I keep high standards for myself, but this is often also my Achilles heel. I get so invested in making something amazing, that I become too paralyzed to make anything happen at all! Rachel helped me get into the habit of productive sloppiness – that is, getting started and then refining my work along the way. Now I wind up with products better than I could have hoped for.
4. Environmental Zen: I learned how to create the environment I need to work efficiently. I learned how to make time in the midst of a hectic schedule and feel peace in the midst of pressure. This helped me enjoy tasks that I had been dreading.
5. Believing I could do it by proving that I could do it: For me, there’s nothing more motivating than saying “I did it! What’s next?” Rachel helped me make possible something I didn’t believe I could do. I’m not currently working with Rachel, but that lasting boost of confidence continues to help me.
So what happened? In June, I began as a fully-funded MD/PhD candidate in Health Care Ethics, in one of only a couple spots nationwide. It took me years to get here and will take me longer still to finish my degrees, but I’m exactly where I want to be! I don’t think I could have gotten here without the help of a nag. I still use the techniques Rachel taught me, and I am looking forward to working with Rachel again as a graduate student!
What is it that you want in your life that seems impossible? Do you want to make the impossible happen now?