If there is one advice that I almost read in every single book in personal development, then it is “invest in yourself”. Every author tells you that it is the most profitable investment you ever make. Unfortunately, the road is not always clear, and most often you will walk alone.
I have always dreamed about doing my postgraduate studies in one of the top schools in the world, but the more you stay away from school, the more the dream becomes difficult. I finished my ungraduated studies 7 years ago and joined one of the biggest international companies in the world. By the time, I realized that in order to move upward in the organizational structure, I need to equip myself with a further educational degree. Now here was the golden advice: invest in yourself. I decided to join an abroad program where I can fulfil my dream and having a new cultural experience. As most of you, my journey was not clear and I had plenty of doubts. I spent countless hours planning for my current financial commitment, thinking about the pros and cons of leaving endless learning opportunities with my current employer, and on top of that, living without my family for the first time in my life. A fundamental rule in physics says: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. After that long journey, I did it in one of the top 50 universities in the world; the University of Warwick.
Here are my five basic steps to achieve that:
- Plan! No matter how long it could be, create a documented plan! Do the math and figure out how much you have now, how much do you need and what sources of funding are available (personal savings, family support or even loans). My plan was divided into two years. It included setting down the financial commitment, finishing a couple of projects with my employer, and the most important were getting a couple of professional certificates so I can get myself in the mode of studying after a long time of leaving the university.
- Start somewhere! Your preparation steps will not follow a logical sequence. You may attend an open day in a school, read a blog post from another one, setting a separate saving account or even watching a YouTube video about a prospective university. When I decided that the UK will be my destination, I took an IELTS preparation course. It helped me to improve my English language and get 7.0 in the exam, get in touch with similar students and of course exploring some of the British culture in British Council. Do not worry if you start with a small step only, the other ones will follow naturally.
- Networking! Get in touch with people who already walked that way. Don’t rely on sending the general e-mail info@XXX. . Fellow students are most of the time just one click away from you, and the good news is they are always ready to share advices and lessons learned. I cannot describe the priceless pieces of advice that I got from contacts via LinkedIn. If I could find answers to my endless questions, then I am sure you can too.
- Use all the available resources. Each university has a booklet for prospective students and provides different sources to help you to prepare. Do use them. You may need information such as tuition fees, cost of living and VISA requirement to name but a few. Read carefully and make your own comparison. Your final decision is a personal point of view and no one can set in your shoes to tell you which is the best option for you.
- Keep it positive. Enjoy the journey of fulfilling your dream and be determined. It is a long journey but as Paulo Coelho in his bestselling novel; Alchemist; said
“and, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it”. Paulo Coelho
Have faith that you can do it. When the efforts pay off, no words can really describe how you will feel. I shared part of my success here in LinkedIn.
What fears are holding you back from writing the next chapter of your life?