One of the thing I have been struggling with is my ability to focus and learn.
Oh, I can do it in a diffuse, sort of non-demanding way. I can do a little, read a little, think a little - but true progress always seems to elude me. Part of it, to be fair, is my apparent lack of dedication to what I am trying to accomplish (to quote a wise guy - myself - "You make time for what you want to do). But to be fair, part of it also feels like I am always fighting to find a little time to set apart to do these things - and not just the things I like to do: even at my current employment, I find myself struggling to accomplish strategic things in the midst of trying to get the day to day things done.
So I have been thinking: What could I change? Is there ever a time that I was continuing to make progress in my life by learning and doing while still existing?
And then the thought came: Ping! Graduate School.
I was always rather good at school and studying. I like the concept of study, test, measure your progress, get recognition (grade, GPA, etc.) and then to apply the knowledge. Life tends not to work like that after schooling of course: Learning is mostly OJT (On The Job) where you can fit it in, and the milestones (tests, grades) are almost never present.
And graduate school (for me) was all that and more, in spades. I worked full time, studied full time, and had classes every MWF (for Japanese) and every evening 11800-2130 for coursework (which, I might add, is not the most conducive to learning when your workday starts at 0600). But I did it. And I learned.
Why? True, there was those milestones - grades and ultimately a degree - that I could shoot for. But there was also a certain hunger to succeed, to prove to myself that I could do it as well as (for me) the ever present hunger for more knowledge.
The reality is this: those skills may be atrophied but they are still there. And the person that did all that - me - is still around as well. Yes, I may have lost some of that passion and fire but I have made for it (in theory) with wisdom and experience.
I need to find that hungry for knowledge graduate student again. He is still here, hiding perhaps under sedimentary layers of defeat and side turns that were not to be expected. I simply need to knock off the dirt and muck, clean him up a bit, and release him in the direction we need to be going.