It’s a beautiful day outside. The sun is shining; the trees and grass are green with only a slight wind is blowing. It’s been more than two weeks since the start of a new semester for the full time MBA class. We’ve begun our option classes this semester, with only five core classes ongoing, including the overseas study trip due in March. The earliest class starts at 11 am this semester, good news for the owls among us.
We received our last semester’s results on Wednesday during the first week of class. I still feel a bit incredulous that I had actually completed studying seven subjects in three months. This semester, thus far, feels a lot less hectic compared to the last one.
A few of the class members mentioned that they felt like there was a lack in work/study-life balance last semester and wanted to re-prioritize their lives. Personally, I had occasional very high stress levels adjusting to the amount of work required last semester, along with my two young children and other domestic responsibilities. The ‘stress’ points were usually when the internet wasn’t working at home, had two or three assignments due and my beloved little ones were still running around the house when they should have had their morning bath.
I do feel that I was stretching myself a bit, and at some points wondered whether I would ever get to the end of the program! But I rationalized that it’s only for a short duration and I might as well juggle everything as best as I can. And it really depends on what we are looking for during this one year. Some of us may be using it as a stepping-stone, to network and get a better job while others may wish for academic excellence.
We all wrote down in our application essays what we wished to achieve during the MBA, though some people may have changed expectations and goals, but these objectives guide our decisions during the school term. For me, it has also meant forgoing taking any formal positions and attending most networking events because my aim is understanding with academic excellence while juggling a family, and bringing up and educating two future leaders (aka my children! ;)).
One of the great aspects of the MBA is that we get personal coaching which has helped us gain clarity into our own lives amidst the hectic MBA schedule. I’ve had two wonderful sessions with a first class Smurfit MBA alumnus. Coming out of the coaching session last Wednesday, I have asked myself a question that I felt I knew the answer, but perhaps I should ponder more on. I always have big dreams for my family and myself. But do I want to aim for eight things and only achieve 90%, or should I aim for only five things and achieve 100% on all of them? It’s a tough question. I would love to say I want to aim for eight things and achieve 100% but that would be stretching myself too thin and would definitely be bad for long-term health.
So to reach a middle ground, I will have to ask myself, out of those eight things that I want to achieve, which ones are the most important to me? What are my ‘key performance areas’ for this year? And for the long term? What are the strategic differentiators that I want to develop in myself? I know my priorities are my religion, my family and then only my career/ studies, but how much percentage do I devote to each of these, and how much do I have left for other things?
Hard and tough questions to answer.
– Nur Zahirah M Sukran, FT MBA 2012/13