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Friday, 16 May 2014 13:15

The mixed pleasures of the finishing line

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A few years ago I decided I would like to do another degree. In one way this was hardly a rational decision – it will probably not help my career in anyway, I am very busy as a consultant, helping to run two businesses and publishing on average one book a year. Spare time is scarce. On another level it was completely rational in that I undertook the degree just for the intellectual pleasure of studying a subject in depth. And what better reason to do something than for pleasure?


Last Friday I did my final exam, Philosophy of Mind, and have now completed my philosophy degree at London University.


Philosophy can be interesting, challenging and on occasions a complete pleasure. On top of this, there are many unexpected benefits from studying philosophy (see my article The Business Philosopher on this site). But I would be lying if I said that every time I had to get my books out it was with a sense of joy. There were times when it was complete drudgery. For the last few years whenever I have had a moment to relax that nagging thought arose in my head “isn’t it time to do some philosophy?” I don’t like being nagged, not even by myself!


And so it was with both a sense of achievement and a sense of relief that I crossed the finishing line last week. Or at least that was what I expected. In fact I felt pretty much nothing. Perhaps this was just because of after completing the last of several 3 hours essay papers my brain had given all it had to give and did not much feel like celebrating. But I also think it is because whilst achieving things is great, and we tend to admire those who rack up a whole series of achievements, life is about doing. Finishing has an unpleasant finality about it. It can seem bizarre, when I complete something as well as a sense of achievement I feel a sense of loss. It is as if deep down something it telling me “oh that bit of your life is now over”.


There are of course surrogate pleasures in crossing the finishing line. Firstly, there are the results to come – hopefully I will have something to celebrate then. Secondly and more importantly, is the thought: fantastic I have quite a few hours a week free. What shall I do next? Perhaps now is the time I finally got round to properly learning a foreign language. With my linguistic competencies the finishing line for that is far, far away!


I wonder is it just me or is this normal?


Read 15041 times Last modified on Friday, 16 May 2014 13:28
Richard Newton

Richard Newton wears many hats. Included amongst these are his work as a consultant, author, blogger, change leader, company director, and program manager. His most well known project management book is The Project Manager: Mastering the Art of Delivery. He is also the author of the best-selling Dream It, Do It, Live It which applies project management principles to achieving personal dreams.

His articles and blogs can be followed at www.changinghats.com. Information about his company can be found at www.enixus.co.uk. His books are available at bookshops and online sellers worldwide.

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