Staying the course

By Frank Bolger - Last update

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In a recent survey on Nightcourses. com it was found that over 28% of people missed more than half their classes; it must be said however, that nearly half (48%) missed none of them, which is pretty good too! I found myself thinking of the painting night class I had signed up for and was actually thinking about missing tonight, but instead chose to go. More about that later, but here are some guidelines to help you choose a night class that you CAN commit to (and enjoy).

Do you have the time and space for it
Oftentimes we sign up for a class because we think it will help us in our career or it s something we are interested in. But if your life is already full of obligations, and you are struggling with those, the chances are that the night class will be the first thing to be dropped. So first of all, honestly ask yourself if you have the time and space for it right now (given everything else that s on your plate).

Are you shoulding yourself
Are you doing this class because you just know that flower-arranging (or spoken Irish or crochet) is going to make your life complete Or are you doing it because you should be doing something that others will admire Shoulding is not sustainable. Your true nature will only end up rebelling against your inner shoulder and stopping you from attending class. Ask yourself what you would LOVE to do, and do that, even if it is just reading a book by the fire.

It s getting too hard. . . and I don t want to do it any more
I ve just completed the third week of a painting course and I did not really want to go last night. I had never painted before in my life and decided that I would be at peace with being terrible at it; just as well if you saw the misshapen boulders of my beach painting! The teacher would be kind – I know kind, I ve done it myself with someone who s well-intentioned but has the aptitude of a fish for high altitude skydives – but last night something happened. . . somehow my beach began to take a recognisable form. The teacher looked at me in a slightly surprised way. She was not as gob smacked as me however!

One of the key things to understand about learning is the cycle:

Unconscious incompetence – I don t know how to drive and I don t care.
Conscious incompetence – I m awful at this and I know it, why do I put myself through this
But then with practice comes the wonderful slow evolution into conscious competence – hey, I can change gear, and steer at the same time as long as I go slowly and really concentrate.
And finally the unconscious competence stage – hey, I drove home but have no memory of doing it.

It s really easy to stop at the conscious incompetent stage, but then you lose the joy of having that golden aha! moment that only learning brings. So if you think you like something but just hate being rubbish at it, be kind to yourself and keep at it.

Flirt, not marriage
If you are thinking about doing a night class with a view to learning a new topic why not do a short introduction first After all, most people don t marry after one encounter, so why not the same for an education course

So if you thinking of signing up for a night class, please make sure you have the time and energy for it and that it actually feels like something you want to do.

Anne Walsh (www. annewalshcoach. com) is a life coach based in Galway, Ireland. You can read more of her Nightcourses. com column here.

Frank Bolger

Driving Lessons
Online learning with the International Career Institute