Can you help me get professionally unstuck?
March 29, 2021 5:12 PM   Subscribe

I can double my current income within one year and triple it within two years. I just need to do a couple things to get there. But I just can't get myself to do them.

I'm going to try to be vague in some areas to not give too many personal details away. Essentially, I need a license to do my job. There are ways around it while you are getting licensed. But ultimately, you need to be licensed. I have been told repeatedly for years that once i am licensed, there is a vast opportunity waiting for me. And yet, I am not licensed.

I have moved a ton. I lost a few years while I was kid-free and not as focused. I now have two littles (under 3) and very limited time. I'm the only one with an income in my household. These are all facts but they are also excuses. When I was kid-free, I should have done this. That I haven't done this yet brings me immense, immense shame. However, I am now truly on limited time and feel like I have just screwed myself.

I feel incredibly stuck. The time commitment to be licensed is probably about 2 months of weekends, early mornings, late nights. I feel like I am paralyzed by a shame spiral that is keeping me in place and a constant voice that tells me I can't do this, that I don't deserve to be successful, and that I will never do it.

The opportunity is about to be gone. My boss has told me that he wants it to be me but he can not wait for me forever. I need to draw up a plan to get the final details done and send it to him.

There are people around me and below me who are moving up. I see them doing their thing, moving up, getting new titles, making more money. I see their success and I know that I should be there. Instead of doing the things to get there, I spend time thinking about how awful I am.

I do lack time at the moment, but I know that people do this. I just need to sacrifice for a few months! For such a better life! And I can't bring myself to do it! The voice saying I can't is so much louder than the voice saying I can. I feel utterly unmotivated to even wake up an hour earlier a day to devote time to do this. I want to stick my head in the sand and stay there but I have done that for too long and now... I need to do this.

Do you have any words of advice? Have you been in a similar situation and prevailed? I guess another general question is, have you gotten yourself out of a deep dark shame spiral?
posted by kmr to Work & Money (23 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Consider finding a good life coach to help you. you need to lay out all the steps and make a plan for accomplishing them, and have someone to be accountable to. It's become a monolithic task, and doing it on your own at this point would be really hard. Pay someone to help you.
posted by theora55 at 5:39 PM on March 29, 2021 [8 favorites]

Can you pay someone to take care of things and let you focus?
posted by oceanjesse at 5:41 PM on March 29, 2021 [18 favorites]

+1 on a coach.

But, if the money is a problem, do you have a supportive spouse, friend or loved one who can help make time and space for you to buckle down? Seeing others believing in you can help you believe more in yourself.
posted by chiefthe at 5:57 PM on March 29, 2021

I don't blame you for feeling overwhelmed by this right now. Life is exhausting for everyone these days, even before taking on a project that could mean sacrificing all your free time for the next two months. Still, it does sound like it would be worth it, and might buy you some more freedom and even leisure down the road.

So, some thoughts:

-As suggested above, life coach is a good idea. They can help you map out a plan, in small, manageable steps. Breaking things down is key.

-You say that you are the only wage-earner in the household, but are you the only adult? If not I suggest asking for serious help from your partner, framing it as a project to double and then triple the family income. You could ask for their support in developing a plan to free up as much of your time as possible so that you can get this done.

-Does this have to be all evenings and weekends, or is there any chance you could take some time off your day job and get it done? It might be worth taking vacation or other time off, or maybe even talking to your boss to see if they would free you up for even a couple of weeks so you can get some momentum going.

Talking to a professional, even if it's only a couple of conversations, would probably help a lot.
posted by rpfields at 5:58 PM on March 29, 2021 [17 favorites]

Can you break this project up into really small, concrete tasks? And then do 1 task in the morning, 1 task at lunch, and 1 task in the evening, repeat daily?

How about rewriting the internal monologue in your head from "I don't deserve this" to "this is a gift for my lovely family, they are the best and I love them very much"?

Make it your new mantra. Let the initial pang of shame turn itself into a reminder and motivator to Just Do It.

Here's how it looks like from the outside: Feeling sorry for yourself? Well, this is not about you, you love your wonderful family, so go do the thing! And repeat as often as necessary to get it done.

Also, motivational podcasts in general, and radical self-acceptance. You are perfect as you are right now in this moment!
posted by Goblin Barbarian at 6:10 PM on March 29, 2021 [3 favorites]

First off, know that everyone (or at least, most of us) run into this kind of avoidance in life like all the time. Don't be ashamed! It's really hard, especially with little kids. And most especially this past year.

License exams are pass/fail. Remind yourself that it's just another work project and you just have to do the minimum to check the box. Remove emotion from this. This is an unpleasant chore, end stop. Think of it like cleaning a litterbox or whatever and lean into that unpleasantness to push through.

To get through this, it's ok to drop your standards a lot in other areas of life. Decide to do that. It's fine if the kids only eat cereal and fast food and get unlimited screen time for these few months. It's fine if your house is an utter mess. You'll make it.

Can your boss help all all? For example, can you block 1-2 hours each workday for getting this license with no interruptions? Either using vacation time or doing this as flex time? Ask. Having a set time block every day can really help, especially if accountability is involved.
posted by veery at 6:22 PM on March 29, 2021 [5 favorites]

Judgement is scary. The higher the stakes get, the scarier it gets. Managing that is HARD. You're not bad or wrong for struggling with this. It is a hard thing for humans.

Everyone's right about breaking the process down into a detailed outline of steps, and everyone's right that you are better off repurposing your time more than trying to carve time out for this AND everything else. That'll mean a serious commitment from your partner, it might also mean taking some half days off work and dropping some other obligations for the couple of months you need to prepare.

I don't think you should add in the possibly months it will take to find an actual therapist, or life coach maybe but honestly the important part is that you vent to someone who can just kindly listen. Just tell someone - ideally not family, not your partner, just someone else who has no investment in your success or failure but probably has dealt with their own - about how scary this is and how shameful you feel, because it will all fall apart under scrutiny. Daylight will make it fade and peel so fast, if you'll just get it out.

Ask a friend or acquaintance if you can have up to two hours of their time to barf about a work thing that's got you tied up in knots, you don't really need advice so much as empathy and comfort and a listening ear while you let this all out and maybe cry a little bit. If you do not have anyone you trust to do that with who does not have any investment in your success, memail me and I will do it. I am that sure you will feel better for just getting it all out.

This stuff is so much easier to do if you depersonalize it. It's a work project. It is not commentary on your value as a person (just your worth as exploitable labor, which of course is scary because you need to keep a roof over your head and that's the only way to do it, but putting CAPITALISM aside...), it's not probably going to be the thing people remember about you when you're gone, it's just a professional hurdle. It sucks. It's a pain in the ass to prepare for. It is completely do-able, people do it all the time, most of them hated doing it and put it off as long as they could too. This is not a flaw in your morals or personality, it is not a referendum on how good a person you are, it's just (probably, I'm assuming) a gatekeepy barrier to keep amateurs from doing whatever the thing is. You're SO close to it being over and done with.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:33 PM on March 29, 2021 [17 favorites]

Best answer: As somehow who's been a student for way too much of my life, with a lot entirely riding on stressful sets of exams, I've been in something of a similar boat many times. I'm in a similar boat now, actually: I'm on an 8-week push for a few exams in mid-May. I'll mention a few things that have helped/are helping me in the hope that perhaps they will help you:

1) Don't allow yourself to wallow in any shame or judgment. Every time you feel shame about the fact that you didn't do this sooner, tell yourself: "I made the best decisions I could make at the time I made them." Maybe you would make different decisions if you had to do it over again, but that's part of life: the fact that you think you'd know better now actually means you've grown and matured! And in any case, there's no changing the past: you can only change the future. Letting bad past decisions ruin your future would be tragic. The past is fixed. But you can better your future. I have a rule for myself that I try not to make any criticism of myself or my loved ones unless it is future-oriented, actionable, and positive/constructive. So try to remain emotionally neutral and constructive with yourself, and when you start feeling shame, turn it around so you ask yourself: "Ok, well be that as it may, but what is the best thing to do, going forward, in approaching this?".

2) Recognize how brief and ephemeral the crunch period is. It helps me to really visualize specifically how quickly I'd be done: for instance, if you started now, you'd be done before Memorial Day. Imagine Memorial Day, spending time with your family, maybe having a barbecue, and what it would feel like to be *done* with your licensure by that point. Spend some time soaking in that image. Imagine how much relief you'll feel to have it done and have your family's bright future stretching out before you; imagine telling your partner or parents or friends that you finished it, what you'd say, what their faces would be like when you told them, how proud they'd be of you; imagine kicking off the summer with that all done, and going on vacation or whatever and being able to really relax. Really spend some time imagining the details of what all that would feel like. How incredible would that feel? And all that can actually be yours with just a bit of (painful but very temporary!) buckling down.

3) I personally find large intimidating tasks (like studying for an exam) to be much less stressful if I break them down into manageable bits. Write down all the steps that you'd need in order to accomplish the licensure, and break them down to be as small, specific, and concrete as possible, with time estimates (even as specifically as "45 minutes: Buy XYZ book from Amazon, drive to Staples and buy flashcards and colored pens"). Pull out your calendar and assign each task to a day and time block. Try to make it realistic, since you don't want to demoralize yourself by getting behind. If you're really in an emotional rut with this, you might need a supportive partner, friend, etc. to help you with this step if you're too anxious to face it. I would be more than happy to help a friend with this, or even an acquaintance. If you have a friend who seems supportive and nonjudgmental, that might be a good person to have help you with this.

4) Reward yourself. I try to be more lenient with myself during these kinds of stressful times. I will let myself go on a walk instead of to the gym, I'll let myself buy some treat I usually wouldn't that feels a bit luxurious, I'll buy rather than make dinner, etc. Given the amounts of money you're talking about this being worth, these splurges are small potatoes. I generally have a splurge after getting a successful chunk of work done that I had preplanned to do (e.g. I'll have a fancy Starbucks coffee after getting two solid hours of studying done and getting through the chapters I put on my calendar for the day). Maybe plan a few big nice things for when you finish - e.g. a massage, or a trip to the beach, or a bottle of champagne, or whatever makes you feel motivated.

5) If you have a partner, enlist them. This is a family project. You're the breadwinner for the whole family, and your family is a team. You need your partner to muck in now. What can they do practically to help you? You need, say, an hour more every day. Can they take some or all chores from you over the next month? Can they do all the cooking or cleaning? If they aren't in a position to take on more, can you budget for hiring someone and/or buying prepared food for the next couple of months? Also make sure your partner knows that you need extra encouragement, extra compliments, and nice things (e.g. tea in bed on weekends, or whatever). If you don't have a partner, perhaps your parents or friends can do some of this, or give yourself license to hire some or all of the tasks out and/or let the less important things slide. No judgment at all from yourself or anyone else. You're prioritizing and having long-term perspective in doing this.

6) I agree with rpfields that if you think it might yield good things, you could talk to your boss about possible accommodations for this. Maybe you could have an hour of the workday (either paid or unpaid), or you could take some vacation time, or something. The basic problem that you have seems to be that you don't have room in your schedule to add an extra 20 hours a week of work. Getting more time somehow seems worth it. Your boss has already said to you that he wants you to do it, so he's likely to want to be supportive and helpful.
posted by ClaireBear at 6:37 PM on March 29, 2021 [24 favorites]

Also: Jemele Hill on Fear of Success
posted by Lyn Never at 6:39 PM on March 29, 2021 [2 favorites]

When I was paralyzed by fear and shame about my masters paper (many of the same things you mentioned- needing it (the degree) to move up professionally, feeling like I should have started long ago, feeling like every second was one wasted was taking 5 minutes to actually look at something/try.

Often times if I could just look up research articles for 5 minutes or add to an outline for 5 minutes that moved me forward more than I thought.

I’ll be honest though, the most helpful part was my counselor and my fiancé. Having that support was an absolute game changer. I was so hard on myself and I see you doing the same thing, beating yourself up for no reason.

I want to be very clear- even if you try for the license and fail or never even attempt it, you are valuable and important. You are not that piece of paper
posted by raccoon409 at 6:41 PM on March 29, 2021 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Remove emotion from this.
Yes, exactly. And if that's really hard, maybe you can keep all the emotion but flip it inside out. Deliberately force yourself to the other end of the shame continuum and become shameless. Every time you hear "you don't deserve this" yell back "Ha ha haaaaaa, I KNOW, and I'm going to take it ANYWAY, haaaaahahahaaaa!" Have you seen Lil Nas X's fabulously salacious new video where he says goodbye to shame and grabs what he wants despite loud choruses of "this is wrong, you are wrong" from all around him and from inside his own head? You have to be just like that: deliberately jubilantly beautifully perfectly selfish. It's two months of a totally free pass. Throw your whole self into it and make it a party. Use every workaround you can find, indulge every labor-saving whim. Eat your weight in chocolate and chips and Fiddle Faddle. Be as selfish as you need to be to get this thing. "You should've done it before," whatever. Whateeeeeever to that, fukalottadat. Of course you didn't do it before. It wasn't time to do it before. Now it's time to do it. We know that the correct time for you to do it is now because now is the time you're doing it. The end.
posted by Don Pepino at 6:47 PM on March 29, 2021 [9 favorites]

Best answer: One other thing that helped me finish my graduate thesis: think of all the idiots you know who have gotten licensed. Make a list if it helps.

You don't need to be perfect. You just need to get it done.

We know that the correct time for you to do it is now because now is the time you're doing it.

Love this.
posted by rpfields at 6:57 PM on March 29, 2021 [15 favorites]

Best answer: Start making it a habit in a way that you can succeed and have a positive experience: I suggest making it your plan to study for 5 minutes, once a day. Can you do 5 minutes? Then do it, and check it off in your calendar. Just 5 minutes. Try that for a week. How does it feel?

If it feels good, next week try 5 minutes, twice a day.

Make it positive. Start building a success spiral.
posted by medusa at 6:59 PM on March 29, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You know how in life there have been things you didn’t want to/didn’t think you could/were afraid to do? And yet when the time came, when you truly had to, you just did them? You kinda had no choice, and it turned out you did have the strength and capability within you? Obviously you can supply your own examples, but I imagine things giving birth might be in that category.

So what I do in these cases is contra what others are recommending. I don’t think them through or break them down into manageable steps. I just, e.g., sign up for the course or register for the exam and tell my boss it’s happening within x months. Then once I’ve committed, all the details and fears that seemed insurmountable before sort of come into focus and I figure out how to work through them.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help—you’re working full time and raising kids, of course you need help.

So, that’s my real word recommendation for getting out of a shame spiral—don’t even try to get out of it, just make the moves so that you have no choice but to rise to the occasion.
posted by kapers at 7:03 PM on March 29, 2021

The language you've used is red-flagging me... is there any chance you're in a MLM or pyramid scheme? If so - those don't work, the licensing itself is part of the pyramid's moneymaking scheme, and the happy successful people around you are almost all scamming / exaggerating.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 8:49 PM on March 29, 2021 [7 favorites]

I just need to sacrifice for a few months! For such a better life! And I can't bring myself to do it!

I am not a therapist, but I read this and think, "What is it about this whole thing that makes 2 months of sacrifice SO AWFUL TO DO, right now?" Is it pandemic? Is it something kid-related? What, specifically, is making your soul scream at the idea of doing this if it's only 2 months and you seriously cannot stand to do those two months? I don't know if I quite think it's "fear of success," but it sounds like there's something about what happens during that 2 months that is really, really putting you off. Are you already so exhausted right now that you can't stand to make yourself even more sleep-deprived to do this? If you 100% sign up and commit to this thing and then find yourself sleeping through the alarm every day because you're too tired to get up at 5 a.m. (or whatever is going on), then that's not exactly being able to handle the problem, either.

I feel like there's two things here:
(a) What is THE THING that you absolutely cannot fucking stand to do here, that is preventing you from doing this?
(b) Is there literally anything that can be done in your life, hopefully by someone else, to make this easier? (I dunno, find childcare at 5 a.m. on a Saturday, for example.)
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:50 PM on March 29, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: If I had a nickel for every human who ever lived who farted around for a few years not doing things to advance themselves that they probably should have been done, I'd be a rich man. SO many people procrastinate life stuff - myself included. And yet here we are, on the other end, succeeding. Please don't feel shame over this, we ALL do it t one time or another.

I'm reminded of an old Peanuts cartoon that, though I don't exactly remember the context, the last panel had Charlie Brown lamenting "Unfortunately, we're not playing should'ves." We're playing now, here's your opportunity, take it.

Look at the pandemic. If someone had said to you a year ago that you're about to start 18+ months of pure suckage, you probably would have said there's no way you could get through it. And yet here you are, having persevered and did what you had to do to survive, and have been doing it 6 times longer than you'll need to buckle down for your career. You can do this.

One last thought:

I should have done this. That I haven't done this yet brings me immense, immense shame.

Please, please don't be looking at today, 6-12 months from now, saying the same thing. Break the cycle now. Set a phone reminder in 12 months to remind yourself how much better your life is having gotten it done vs. where you would have been if you hadn't. Give yourself and your kids a present to celebrate your success. Best of luck, you got this.
posted by SquidLips at 9:02 PM on March 29, 2021 [6 favorites]

It is a sad fact that a lot of what works in this situation has been discovered independently by so many people over so many hundreds of years that it has no power as verbal advice and can only be experienced first-hand. So I am sorry in advance.

But it really is just about doing one small thing at a time. Once you've done something, and you've felt your ability to exert yourself in a direction that you'd written off, you're out of the spiral and you're different, even if you can't feel it yet. Then you just have to keep doing one small thing. Over time the end goal will feel more concrete and grow in your mind, and when that happens it will be easier to keep working on it, but you need to crank the engine by hand until it starts. Don't let a day go by without doing at least a little, even if it's just opening the notebook you're tracking your to-do list in and making yourself look at it. Once it's open you might find something you can do in there; the hardest part is often committing to look.

It's natural to be a little superstitious about yourself once you're moving again. I don't know if showering at the same time every night, or taking long walks, or not drinking diet soda is keeping me out of the pits, but I've been doing all of it while I'm climbing out, so I'm going to keep doing it.

Maybe this isn't an issue for you, but here's another one just in case: The world frequently sucks, and the Horatio Alger stories about self-improvement are revealed as convenient blinds for people in power who don't want to help others, and there's a pandemic on, and we have achieved therapeutic insight into our problems as that vocabulary spreads all over, and all of this makes it very easy to feel like it's not only fine but correct, somehow, in a moral sense, to feel like you can't struggle against a weight that is very heavy and not by rights your responsibility. But—and this is another cliché, I apologize, it just ends up working—insofar as that stuff is all true, you still can't act like it is. If I don't act like I have agency, can pull myself up by my bootstraps one moment of executive function at a time, etc., it's just never going to happen for me, so regardless of what I believe about the structure of the world I have to do it. There's that saying "Trust God, but row away from the rocks." I think a secular version of that might be "It's bad, fake, and rigged, but competing won't hurt anyway."

I agree with everyone else that if there's anyone who can help you do this stuff—maybe organize some of it, act as an accountability partner, even just say every night or every Saturday "what are you doing about the license today?"—you need to enlist them as soon as possible. This is too amazing an opportunity to pass up, and it will benefit everyone around you; honestly, reading your post made me wish I had a friend in this situation so I could hound him in person until it was finished. But even if you don't have anybody, or don't think you have anybody, you can do it, you just have to start.
posted by Polycarp at 9:49 PM on March 29, 2021 [3 favorites]

One thing that struck me particularly was your deep feelings of shame. I can relate and had something similar to work through. Reading up on toxic shame might help you unpack some of these feelings and begin a healing process.
posted by JenMarie at 10:46 PM on March 29, 2021 [1 favorite]

I just took a professional licensing exam with an 8-month old. I was scheduled to take it last year when I was pregnant, but it was cancelled at the beginning of the Covid outbreak.

It was a struggle and felt like a huge sacrifice of my time and energy, but it was limited. I spent all my free time for a couple months studying. I had to take a few hours of time off work to get enough studying in. I didn’t worry about chores as much, I asked my spouse to watch the baby as much as possible, etc. I took it 2 weeks ago and it’s glorious to have my free time back (aka time I need to get my work hours in, do chores, start my spring planting, etc.)

So I think going into it knowing that it will suck, but there’s a definite and relatively short time frame will make it doable.
posted by DoubleLune at 1:35 AM on March 30, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Procrastination isn't the result of not caring, it's the result of anxiety. There is a big emotion blocking you. It's fair to say that when you think about doing this you get some kind of a panic attack, similar to the fear that a herpetophobe gets when they get handed a snake. WAUGH! Too much emotional reaction. And what makes it worse is that when one is holding a snake the type of executive functioning needed to actually learn stuff and write an exam becomes exceedingly difficult. Analyzing material and committing it to memory requires you to override a lot of other mental processes. So it is all too easy to get into a cycle of thinking "I'm too tired/busy/sick/confused/worried about the kids/kitchen/the report due at work etc. to do this right now."

The first thing you need to work on is childcare and setting up the arrangement where you have the time reliably freed up so that you can study. You don't have to think about the studying until you work out how you will have solid safe time without interruption. Talk to your house mates and any relatives in your bubble or the feasibility of a mother's helper/babysitter coming to the house. Consider trying to sleep while they are in charge of the kids. You might not be able to study from seven PM to nine PM while your partner watches the kids because the little keeps running in to show you they can get their diaper off like a big girl now! and your partner needs you to remind them what goes in the family spaghetti sauce recipe, but you might be able to sleep through all that and then get up at eleven PM and study until 1 AM.

Start by solving the logistics - when, where, how you will find the time to study. Consider also if there is any way you can combine studying with working. I don't mean sneaking in fifteen minutes of studying here and there while pretending to be working, but after getting an overview of the certification questions, relate them to the work you are doing. If there is a process on the certificate exam and you are employing that process at work, go over it while you do it and relate it to the exam, what parts you are covering and what parts you are not, and if there is anything in the process you could change or add to it that would mean you did the job better but also covered some of the material you have not been using.

When it comes time to write your study plan for you boss include this technique "While providing daily client outcomes I will related them to section three of the exam and practice implementing the seven foundational services in that section..."

There are a couple of mental tricks you can use. One is to give yourself permission to not do the certification, but only if you do everything possible up to actually doing the certification. You don't have to actually look at the material, but you do have to download it. You don't have to actually look at the material but you do have to find a good video to put on to distract the kids for a solid hour, and spend that hour not doing anything to make a space for the certification work. You don't have to actually take the certification exam but you do have to review what you already know that is relevant to that exam, to figure out what you don't need to study.

At a time like this I would suggest looking for a teddy bear - Metafilter might be a good place to look. Find someone who can hold your hand when you sit down with the material so you are not doing it alone. Another term for a teddy bear is an accountability buddy. Find a friend or relative who is willing to commit to spending an hour three times a week with you on line, to make soothing noises while you whimper and reach your hand towards the snake and then pull it back and whimper some more. We are social animals and morale support makes everything easier, the same way you want someone to go down into the basement with you to check out the strange banging noise which might be a hungry Burmese Python but given that this is Michigan in March probably isn't.

Another thing to do is to focus on your feelings when you are trying to do this and not simply try to push through and ignore the anxiety. You might be hyperventilating, and when you realise that you know you need a paper bag to breath in. You might be feeling dizzy and when you realise that you know you need to take a two minute break and lie down on the floor. You might need to wrap up in a weighted blanket, or have a hot cup of tea and bag of chocolate chips to centre yourself. Focus on those things to make sure your physical self is being nurtured when you try to do this. You know that you feel awful. Take a look at the specifics and check if there is anything you can do to reduce the physical sensations like breath, vomit, cry or unclench your jaw.

Finally parody can also help. Take a few minutes to write a parody of your certification exam. Write the questions, the answers and the disgusted comments appended by whoever grades the exam, and give yourself a flunking grade. "Very poor! I am surprised at you, kmr!" This is an exercise in desensitization and in practicing ego resilience and of course is actually a type of practice for writing a real exam. But it is low stakes and with luck will make you laugh. Laughing about this would really help. That's the kind of tension release you need, but have been unable to achieve.

Make a plan for what you will do if your fail. Let's say you put in the study time, but it is often interrupted and there wasn't enough of it and you take the exam and fail it? At that point give yourself a HUGE reward because you will have risked so much and put so much into it that you deserve a reward. Basically you are asking yourself to take on a third job on top of the income and the kids. This is not a small thing. If, as it happens, it turns out not to be possible this year, that's on this year, not on you. If you do put in any effort at all, you deserve to be rewarded for that. And if your reward is not the certificate, then you deserve some other reward for simply trying. God knows everyone is mentally exhausted. Attempting this IS huge and that's part of why you are struggling to start it.

Hey, you matter. You matter a lot, and your feelings about this matter a lot. And you are not being irrational or lazy, or self sabotaging. You've got a huge hard to solve problem. But you have been focusing on it and put yourself on the path to doing it. You are disciplined enough to think about it. You are wise enough to ask for help - if it can be done, you'll do it.
posted by Jane the Brown at 7:49 AM on March 30, 2021 [5 favorites]

You say you have two kids under 3, are the only breadwinner and the "only" thing you need to do is give up nights, mornings and weekends for 2 months? That's an insane commitment. That's something you need help with. Can someone support you through this? Can your boss give you time to do the work on company time or ease the burden? They will benefit from your education too. Can they make an investment?
posted by pazazygeek at 8:14 AM on March 30, 2021 [8 favorites]

Best answer: Hey, I just did some licencing exams last weekend. It's not a good time, but there's never been an ideal time. You know that financially this has a good return on investment, so it seems reasonable to throw some money at this problem. Things I did that helped:
- paid for a regular cleaner, and at times paid extra for them to do routine stuff like wash dishes
- paid for a weekly or twice weekly babysitter to give Partner downtime
- asked local family to take over kid activities for weekend mornings
- took paid leave from work for the weeks leading up to exams
- all the takeaway and rubbish food
- joined Facebook (or Reddit, or whatever) groups for those sitting the same exam, and muting other groups
- found a study / accountability buddy
- paid for a prep course and practice questions, asked others for their advice on passing the exam
- drove in to work to study - a waste of time perhaps, but no kid interruptions and it's a place my brain is used to working rather than mucking around
- treated work situations as if they were an exam question on that problem, and how would I approach it in the exam
- did professional CME, and treated questions in that material as if it were in the exam
- went to the gym on my study days, which helped with the anxiety and helped me keep the mindset of slow steady progress.
- paid for the exam, and told people around me that I would be sitting it. I also told them that I thought I would fail (because pandemic) and gave myself a free pass on 'trying' the exam without beating myself over the head if I did happen to fail (because pandemic), and also frequently complained about the general ditziness of Licencing Authority for
- even on days I took off work, I sometimes only managed 4-6 hours study.
The good part is that this has a really defined end point. You'll get through this, and in two month's time you can relax and not have the ongoing vague dread of this hanging over you.
posted by quercus23 at 4:23 PM on March 30, 2021 [4 favorites]

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