Last week I mentioned how I was re-thinking life goals. This week, I am going to focus on the goals I have had for education.
Let me set the stage to help put this all into context. I already have 2 masters degrees and $80,000 of debt (mostly from the Library Science degree). I am the child of two college educated parents and one has a doctoral degree. I currently work in higher education as a reference librarian. Much of my job currently involved standing in front of students, teaching them research skills, and has the possibility of doing research if I want.
I don’t need a PhD to do my job. I could get paid better with one, but a lack of one won’t keep me from moving up the ladder into administrative jobs. I have always wanted a PhD to be able to say I have one.
That’s not a great reason to set a goal, but when I first set it, I thought it was something I wanted. I had this fantasy of getting one through the university I worked for and doing it at the end of my librarian career so I could retire with a free PhD and use it to consider teaching as an adjunct to keep me engaged and active in retirement. There have been moments when I thought of working towards it now, while it is free, as a way to stay sane at work. My coping mechanism for stress has been to ignore the stress around me by focusing on other things. Getting a PhD gives me an easy excuse to do that. Trust me, I did it with the last masters degree.
Things have changed in the 10 years since I created this goal. I have been asking myself some tough questions to re-assess this goal. What would having a PhD mean? I means teaching and research. These are two things I am already doing or am free to do. What about after I retire? I only need a masters degree to teach as an adjunct.
It was a shock to realize: I have no need for a PhD.
There is no logical reason to spend thousands of additional dollars and spend another 8+ years of my life working toward a degree that I don’t get anything out of. I found myself crossing PhD off my list of goals. A goal I had on the list for 10 years was erased with the stroke of my pen.
Yet, education remains important to me. I like learning new things. I want to learn more about what I enjoy. I want to learn more about blogging, publishing, knitting, building creative businesses, marketing books, and leadership. None of these require classroom time or a degree. They require getting involved in communities and identifying experts. Maybe there will be formal programs to help me do this, but most of this learning is by being engaged in what interests me.
How do I put this into a goal that I can accomplish? Well, that will come later. For now, I am simply re-assessing the life goals. So, consider PhD off the list.