Have you signed up for too many classes?
If you’re like me, you’re smiling to yourself and thinking, “Is there really such a thing as too many classes?”
And then, about a moment later, you find yourself noticing that you feel a bit heavier and that your thoughts are running through all the classes you’ve signed up for that are just waiting for you, all that inspiration and possibility just sitting there ignored and incomplete. Maybe you feel a familiar twinge of guilt, not only at the money you’ve spent but also at how you let the excitement you had at the beginning fizzle out. Maybe you feel a whole lot of frustration, like you really, really, really want to do those classes but just haven’t managed to find the time. Maybe you simply laugh at yourself thinking, “Oh, look, there I go again. I just do that. Signing up for classes and then not doing them? Yep, that’s me!”
I get it. As a creative, an instructor and a lifelong learner, I am always taking classes. I love immersing myself in creative inspiration, new techniques and fresh perspectives. It enriches my creative life and my creative work. Plus, I hate missing out on anything. When I see a new class by a teacher I love or on a topic that fascinates me, I’m all over it! Right now, off the top of my head, I can think of 11 classes I have enrolled in that are incomplete and 2 more that I want to sign up for right now.
(Psst… I am not here to tell you to stop registering for classes or to finish what you have before you sign up for more.)
What I want to focus in is how do we get the most out of our learning experience?
1. Choose One Class to Make Your Priority
Every work of art needs a focal point and this principle can apply to your array of classes too! When you choose one class as your top priority, you can stop that repeated stress of choosing which project from which course you should do. It’s much simpler when your priority class is always your go-to. In any given week, if you have more time, you can cherry pick from the smorgasbord that remains!
You might be thinking, hey, if I could choose one then I wouldn’t have this whole pile of classes waiting for my attention! I hear you but let me also assure you that choosing one “for now” is a lot easier than choosing one “for always.” You can decide which class is going to be your priority this week, this summer or this year. You can switch it up whenever you like, as long as that switch gets you creating and moving forward, not avoiding and feeling frustrated.
2. Let Your “Why” Be Your Guide
Choosing your top priority and making it work for you is much easier when you are clear on why you are taking these classes in the first place. Are you taking class for a sense of community? If so, prioritize one that’s happening live over one that is self-paced. Are you taking classes to learn a new skill? Which of the classes does the best job at teaching the skill you most want to learn. Are you in class to have some fun? Which of the classes brings you that delight?
Let your motivation guide your prioritization.
3. Define “Complete” (Yes, you get to decide what’s complete!)
You don’t have to finish everything you start.
Yep, that’s right. You don’t have to finish everything you start, including every class you sign up for. Those early years in school really ingrain in us that progress and success is predicated on a level-up curriculum; you must complete grade 1 in order to get to grade 2. In non-academic life, it doesn’t necessarily work that way. You get to define your own curriculum and determine your own path.
If you start a class and quickly determine it isn’t for you, figure out what you now know about yourself as a student so you can make strong course choices in the future. Is this teacher not for you? This format? This topic? What do you know now that you didn’t know before? Let that be the learning and then let it go. Next time you’ll know that you need videos as a part of a class, not just text, or that self-paced classes work better for you than time-sensitive ones. Great!
Also, if you’re taking a class and you’ve already received great skills or inspiration from it but you haven’t done every single last thing, it’s okay to decide that you have received enough value from that class and call it complete. Think of it like going out to a restaurant and you’re served an amazing but wildly generous meal. It may not actually serve you to try and eat every, single last bite, especially if you are so full that you’re no longer enjoying it! If you sign up for a class that has 20 lessons and 14 teachers and bonus exercises etc and you are feeling blessedly done after 7, acknowledge all the value you received from the experience and call it complete.
4. Remember the Love
When I was finishing up high school, a grown-up asked me what I wanted to study in university. I explained that I was thinking English, because I loved it so much. He said, “Oh, you really don’t want to study something you love. School will suck the love right out of it.”
Now, higher education may or may not do that but we sure as shootin’ shouldn’t do that to ourselves ! As an adult, when you are studying something out of the sheer love of it, it is up to you to tend to that love. You get to decide how much is enough. You get to decide which environment is right for you. You get to choose the teacher and set your own pace.
Remember, when all is said and done, this gorgeous plethora of courses is for you.