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I should probably out myself, first and foremost, as a huge school nerd.
When other kids used to dread the first day of school after a long summer break, I was secretly excited.
In elementary school, I used to assign myself summer “homework assignments” — books to read, short stories to write, that kind of thing. (Yep, total nerd here.)
I was so disappointed when college was over that within a couple of years after graduating, I applied for grad school four separate times … not because going back to school was the right next step for me (which is why I ultimately turned it down every time), but because I didn’t want to feel like my education was over.
I was so good at learning when I was in school (if you could make a profitable career out of just being a student, I totally would’ve done that), but I didn’t know how to continue that into the “real world.”
All of that is to say, it’s probably no wonder that I love this concept so much …
WHAT IF YOU TREATED YOUR LIFE LIKE A BUILD-YOUR-OWN-CURRICULUM EXPERIENCE?
I was talking with my client Melissa recently who was debating going back to school, but she didn’t want to have to follow a pre-set, strict curriculum. She has so many varied interests, and she didn’t want to have to choose between them.
At some point she said, “I wish there were a major where you could build your own curriculum. I just want to choose a school, take only the classes that seem fun and interesting and relevant, and call it a degree.”
I paused for a minute and then said, “You know, I think that’s kind of what life is. It’s just one big build-your-own-curriculum experience. You don’t have to go back to school for that.”
I honestly don’t know which one of us loved this idea more, her or me.
So immediately we started building out her life as if she were choosing classes for next semester. Turns out, Melissa didn’t need to go back to school to learn most of the stuff she’d been wanting to explore.
What if you treated life like a build-your-own-curriculum educational adventure?
WHAT ‘CLASSES’ DO YOU WANT TO TAKE IN LIFE
I asked Melissa, “OK, so if you get to build your own curriculum, and you can learn about anything you want, then what’s your ‘major’? What kinds of ‘classes’ do you want to take?”
Melissa is fascinated by technology innovation, so she declared that as her “major.” But she also wanted minors in health/wellness, traveling, and personal development.
So we started coming up with “classes” she could take in all of these subjects:
- She wanted to learn about building websites … but instead of taking a formal class on it, she asked a friend if she could try building a website for a side project he’d been working on.
- She was curious about entrepreneurship … so she limited her job search to only tech start-ups, so she could see up-close-and-personal what it’s like to start a business from the ground up.
- For her minors, she booked a summer trip to Colorado (for her “travel” minor), started doing CrossFit (health/wellness), and came up with a reading list for her personal development.
After we broke this all down, Melissa admitted that, for the first time (maybe ever), she felt like she was the one orchestrating her life. And it felt good.
YOU GET TO CHOOSE
What’s great about building your own life curriculum is that you can major in anything you want.
Me personally? I’m majoring in consciousness — there are endless layers of my own self-awareness and personal evolution, and I want to explore them all. Some of my current classes are …
- Self-expression (my theme for 2016) — I made an entire checklist of ways I want to practice expressing myself this year, including setting boundaries with people and taking dance classes.
- Feminine vs. Masculine energy — I’m slightly obsessed with this concept right now, and I find it endlessly fascinating. (Check out our Work Like a Woman podcast for more about this!)
- Essential oils — I bought a bunch of oils and books about them and I’m totally hooked right now!
- Conscious business growth — Rachel and I are working with an incredible business coach this year to grow our business in a way that aligns with our values.
You could major in traditional subjects, like art, philosophy, or technology … but you could also major in things like peace, service, balance, adventure, self-expression, or joy. If you want to double-major (or triple-major), be my guest! It’s all up to you.
Or, if you have no idea what your “major” is, that’s perfectly fine, too. You can declare yourself as “undecided” for now. Just take a few “classes” in whatever you’re most intrigued by at the moment (follow your curiosity!) and explore your options. There’s no rush to choose a major … this is a lifelong process.
There’s also no penalty for changing your major, and you can do it as many times as you’d like. In fact, there are really no rules when it comes to building your own life curriculum — that’s the beauty of it. It’s your life, and no one can tell you you’re doing it wrong.
SPREAD THE LOVE
I see a lot of people trying to squeeze everything they want to learn into one area of their life, usually their career. They want their career to bear the weight of providing for all of their learning, fulfillment, and growth needs. But that’s WAY too much responsibility for any one area of your life, whether it’s your job, your relationships, your hobbies, or anything else.
So share the love! Let your life curriculum spread out to all areas of your life.
Yes, your job has a huge potential for fulfilling parts of your “life curriculum” (mostly just because it takes up so many hours of your week), but it is not — and should not — be the only way you’re building toward your “major.”
And remember, there’s no end goal when it comes to your life curriculum. Unlike formal education, there is no graduation day, and no one is ever going to hand you a certificate to let you know you’ve “made it.” (And if that were to happen, it would make for a seriously boring rest of your life.) Which means there’s always a deeper level of learning you can explore.
So tell me, what do you think of this whole build-your-own-curriculum approach to life? What’s your “major” in life (for now, at least)? What are some “classes” you’d like to take? Leave a comment to let me know!
Kristen (& Rachel)
GET $50 OFF THE PASSION PROFILE SHORT COURSE THIS WEEK!
Last week was crazy for me and Rachel — we both had a lot going on personally that made it hard for us to focus and be present for the current promotion we’re running on the Passion Profile Short Course.
Today was supposed to be the deadline for you to get $50 off the PPSC, but in the wake of our recent life chaos, we’re extending the deadline! So now, we’re offering the PPSC for $199 (instead of the usual $249) through this FRIDAY, JUNE 29TH. Use code JUNE during checkout for $50 off!
Need more details? Check out the full PPSC page to see whether this is right for you.
We hope to see some of you in there!
This may sound weird, but I am really interested in card making (yes, like hallmark). I’m all about personalization when it comes to birthdays / christmas, I literally only give gifts based on someone’s personality and character ( I just can’t get with gift cards and pre-made gift baskets ) and things I know a year from now they’ll still have ! so I’ve been considering branching out to making my own cards to include in gifts. The products to get started seem expensive through Stampin’ Up company, but I am seriously considering it !
Card making doesn’t sound weird at all — it sounds really fun and creative! It’s awesome that you channel your creativity into personalized, crafty, thoughtful gifts for the people in your life. What a great outlet!
Total side note: Are you familiar with The 5 Love Languages? If not, you may want to check it out. I’m wondering if one of your love languages might be gift giving, since that’s clearly one big way that you like to show love and appreciation. Might be an interesting thing for you to explore!
This is awesome! I love how you just tweak the lens a little and all of a sudden my whole world view has changed. The power of some well placed words is amazing. Thank you 🙂
Cathrine — I love the way you phrased that! Isn’t it amazing how just a small shift in perspective can change your entire world view?? I’m so happy this blog was able to do that for you today! 🙂
I’ve been dabbling for years. I wish I would have found you gals a long time ago when I was beating myself up for not having the job that gave me great fulfillment. My jobs were a means to an end really – fulfilling only parts of my strengths but then ultimately giving me the resources to take Salsa lessons and buy art supplies and hang out with my friends. I’m not working now and that’s been truly hard because it messes with your self worth – like I’m not worthy somehow because I’m fortunate enough not to have to make a paycheck. I’m working on that now – that’s why I’m listening to you!
Amy — I’m so happy you DID find us, and I’m going to trust that it was at the exact right time. 🙂 You’re right that so many of us have (wrongly) learned to connect our self-worth will what we can do, achieve, contribute, create, etc. It’s how our society is structured. But it’s 100% UNTRUE. Your worth is not up for debate — it’s a given, and nothing can take that away from you. It’s not dependent AT ALL on what you do. You are worthy of love, happiness, and fulfillment simply by being you. I’m glad you’re starting to believe that more and more!
I love this. I was actually thinking on my morning drive about how the most pleasurable and beneficial lessons I’ve gathered have been ones that began with my own curiosity about something regarding the world, and my own natural excitement that came from becoming my own life’s Picasso.
It’s great when your life seems like a work of art that you put together, like, say, a collage of all that makes you happy, for instance.
Michael — I can’t tell you how much I love the visual of seeing your life as “a work of art that you put together … a collage of all that makes you happy.” Such a great description! Thanks for sharing that. 🙂
I love this post, after reading it I feel less anxious about the future, we have our whole life to do things that we enjoy, we dont have to do it everything at a time. For example, I like to be a web Designer, but also learn and practice foreign languages, do more sport, meet with friends & enjoy my city, learn more about introversion and how to deal with it, travel and discover new places, write a blog to share my experiences, read more and watch inspiring movies, help the movement of Women in tech & work/life balance and do some creative Things. The important part is not forgetting those goals and enjoy the journey.
I have similar interests!
I’m in IT and am considering a career in Web Development as I’ve always dabbled a little in design and development for fun. I just finished a p/t program in Web Dev and am thinking of freelancing while I try other things. Have fun on your journey 🙂
Nice Julie! We can try many things until we know what we love, maybe freelancing is a good way to test! Have a good journey too ?
Cristina — You nailed it when you said “we have our whole life to do things that we enjoy, we dont have to do it everything at a time.” Yes!! There’s no need to overwhelm yourself by trying to cram everything you want to experience in your life all at once. If you think of exploring your various interests as “choosing classes for next semester,” it’s easier to remember that you have endless semesters ahead of you to keep exploring and learning and trying new things. It’s such a relief to have that bigger perspective.
During this summer I will think about the clases for the next school year ? Thanks for your blog, it is very inspiring!!
My thoughts closely echo Catherine’s… This is amazing. Thanks for the new perspective! I’ll definitely be giving it some consideration. 🙂
Thanks, Jen! I love that this gave you a new perspective and got the wheels in your mind turning today. 🙂
Thanks Ladies…you’re amazing! I really love how you look at life. It’s very encouraging and motivating!
Thank YOU, Lisa! It means a lot to get such great feedback like that. Glad you found this encouraging!
Love this concept! I’m going to turn it into a homework exercise for myself :p
Lol! How meta, I love it! 🙂
Oh man, you totally need to read The Renaissance Soul
Haven’t read it, but I’ll definitely check it out! 🙂