At the age of 12, my sister knew what she wanted to be when she grew up. With confidence and determination, she took the high school classes she would need to pursue her college major. She selected a college that would help her get into medical school, and ultimately she achieved her middle school dream of becoming a doctor.
I, too, knew in middle school what I wanted to be when I grew up, but unlike her, I was paralyzed by a dangerous and powerful limiting belief:
“I’m not creative enough.”
This is a terrible belief to have when you’re dream is to be an architect and you have a passion for design.
I allowed this belief to shift me away from earning a degree in architecture and I became a mechanical engineer, instead.
But the dream didn’t go away. In fact, it intensified the moment I learned how broadly the continuum of architecture spans. I knew there was a place for me on it.
I remember that moment like it was yesterday, but it took many years for that old belief to slowly dissipate. When I had my daughter and left the work world, I looked for ways to go back to school and get an architecture degree. The nearest university was hours away. There were no architecture firms I could intern with. In any case, I knew that I liked the way our home and family life ran with me being available and not consumed with school or work.
Shortly after our move back to Tennessee and my daughter was settling into middle school, I was revisited again by that old architecture dream, especially since we had moved to a place full of architecture firms, with a major university offering architecture degree programs, in a growing community in need of new construction, along with numerous historic preservation projects. How incredibly exciting! This time, instead of feeling helpless and focusing on all the things I couldn’t (and wouldn’t) do just yet – go back to school or find a job with a firm who would be willing to train me – I asked myself a really good question:
“What can I do now?”
The answer was quick and clear. There was nothing stopping me from going to the library and reading books on architecture. There was nothing stopping me from learning the old design software that still happened to be installed on my computer. What I needed was the discipline to take action.
And that is what this blog does for me. It is my accountability coach and what gets me out of bed every morning at 4:45 a.m. to read and write while everyone else is asleep, and to post an article every Thursday – no matter what – even if no one ever reads it. It is my way of being ready to hit the ground running when the opportunity to take the next step finally comes.
Creating this blog has also spawned other good habits like going to the gym every day for an hour. If I’m going back to college when my daughter graduates – and I’ll be 52 – I’ll need to have lots of energy to keep up. I’ve also had to get more disciplined about taking care of the home front; I need to make sure the day-to-day operations are running smoothly while I’m out converting this dream into a reality.
Who knows how far I’ll get, and it really doesn’t matter. Life is already so much better now that I’m focused on a goal, with a plan and the habits in place to go after it.
Besides, I sure as heck don’t want to be sitting around when I’m 90 wondering if I could have been an architect and regretting not ever having tried.
I’d rather be creating my best design yet.