Is it worth the struggle?
Is it worth the trouble and sacrifice to do what you love? This is the most common question I get when people learn I have a doctorate degree. They don’t ask this exact question, it usually is something like “was it worth it to go to school forever?” or "was it worth the student loans?"
My answer is always yes, yes it was worth the time, effort, mountains of student loans, and sacrificing time with family/friends. It was worth it because the struggle has allowed me to do what I wanted to do. I learned about sport psychology when I was 17 from someone who had recently finished her Ph.D.. I went home and researched the field, what type of clientele would benefit from that expertise and what it would take to accomplish the degree. I was hooked. I decided that I wanted to be the most qualified I could be and would complete whatever I needed to in order to be best prepared to help others with mental coaching. I was committed to the end state. My goal, my purpose was (still is) to help people achieve their best. While I could have stopped after my Masters degree, the more I learned, the more I felt that a Masters degree didn’t feel like enough to get me ready to help people they way I wanted to. So pursuing a doctorate was it. That was the journey I would embark on. I finished that journey over 7 years ago and I still feel that it was all worth it. People seem to have hard time believing that. Anything worth having is worth working for. Sometimes people lose sight of that when they look at a big goal they are considering.
Recently, after I answered the questions above from someone, he then stated he wasn't sure he wanted to go back to school for a long time. Be careful how you view hard work, effort, and time required to accomplish a goal. People tend to weigh the requirements and have a hard time 'seeing' the payoff. I get it. Predicting the future isn't possible so it's not guaranteed. But consider what would happen if you didn't commit to a goal, work hard and sacrifice for it? Where would you be in life? Would you be happy? Would you be able to say you're satisfied with how things turned out? Would you have regrets about all the things you didn't push for?
Everyone is different. I know for me I would not have been able to experience the joy of helping others without the skills and knowledge I have gained. I would have always wondered what could have been... Just like any goal worth working for, we have to commit to our goal, work like hell to make progress, and make lots of sacrifices along the way. No it’s not easy, there are times when the odds are stacked against you and giving up is REALLY appealing. I had lots of moments like that while struggling to finish my dissertation. I already had a great job that didn't require a doctorate. For very brief moments I considered not finishing. Then one day someone said to me, "once you finish, no one can take that away from you." That fact stuck with me. I focused on what finishing my degree would mean to me, those I help, and my children. When you have those moments of doubt, it’s helpful to remind yourself of the reason you’re still fighting and what you’re fighting for. You’re not studying because you love to study, you’re not doing squats because you love sweating in a gym doing
squats. You do these things because of where they lead you - closer to your goal. If you take the easy way out you’ll never know what would have been. You’ll never discover the result of the hard work. So keep grinding. Keep fighting. Be relentless in your pursuit of your goals. You never know who you will inspire.