I have big goals. These goals require me to focus my time and prioritize things in life. These goals simply will not happen by waiting long enough. I will go ahead and announce this publicly, as I am hoping to also have a bit of accountability tied to this post. I am studying for actuarial exams, again. (If you don’t know what those are, check out beanactuary.org or casact.org or soa.org. The point of this post is not to get into detail about the actuarial profession.)
But how? How can a single mother study for actuarial exams? How can I fit 300+ hours of study time into my life over the next 4-5 months, and many thousands of hours into my life over the next several years!? Why would I want to disrupt the happiness I’ve found in my life by adding studying for exams to the mix? I’ll start by answering why, because I find this to be the question I probably have answered the most when I’ve mentioned this to my friends and family.
Professional Development. I am motivated by continuing to improve myself, hence the name of this blog, BetteringBonnie. One big area of development I have is in understanding the actuarial profession better. I passed Exam P in my first sitting 4 years ago. I earned an associates and subsequently a bachelors degree while I was already a mother. I know that I cannot simply stop professionally where I’m at today. I am driven by working on the next mountain and actuarial exams are my next mountain. In the past 4 years, I’ve tried and I’ve contemplated this a lot. When I left my ex-husband 2.5 years ago and proceeded to file for divorce, I put these goals on hold in order to allow myself time to gain some perspective and emotional stability. I am so glad I took that time, too. Since the divorce 2 years ago, I have done a lot of work on myself. Self reflection and growth. Some through this blog and some by leaning on my support network. I’m so thankful I had that, and now I feel ready to get back in the game. I don’t see this as disrupting my happiness, so much as continuing to go after it in a different way.
I am doing my best to remove time sucks and build a more solid routine in my day. By focusing on the things that are most important, I will be able to carve out the time I’ll need to study. There are 4 main areas where I am hoping to carve out some time to fit studying for exams in my life.
The first thing I did was delete Facebook and Instagram from my phone. I haven’t removed my profiles, and will likely still check these when I’m at my computer. But as for the 24/7 access to social media, I knew that distraction had to be severed. I only started this today, and have already experienced some weird withdrawals from it. I continue to look at my phone when I know nobody is messaging me, and I’m sure it’ll take a couple days or maybe a couple weeks before I stop checking so much, but I know it will help me focus on my bigger goals. I am sure this will save me hours per day. I’m not sure exactly how many as I haven’t tracked my social media usage, but I am sure it is no small number.
Another thing I’ve done is I’ve decided to start only ordering groceries online. Whatever shopping I need to do I will be ordering for pickup or delivery. The last couple weeks I’ve used Walmart Grocery Pickup. The store near me only has pickup available roughly 2 days after you order. In the event that I forget to order 2 days before I need groceries, I have also ordered grocery delivery through instacart, which I actually used just today. I’ve tried Amazon Prime Now, but living in a suburb that is not close to a Whole Foods makes that option not work as well for me. So I will be setting reminders for myself to place orders for groceries weekly. I will use time on the weekends to prepare any food we’ll need for the week. Again, if I forget to place my order on time, or just don’t get around to it, I’ll order delivery on Instacart. If you’ve never tried these options for groceries, I’ve added some links you can use to get $10 off your order. My bonus would be I will also get $10 off my next order for referring you. Let me know what you think after you try it out! Ordering groceries online saves me probably about 2 hours(+/-) a week in walking around the store and trying to decide what to buy. It is also a great way to budget because you see your order total as you add items to your cart, and you can do immediate price comparisons to other items.
I will also continue to lean on my support network. There may be days when I need a break, or when I simply need some extra quiet time to study. My parents have been there for me in the past helping watch the kids, when I was studying to earn my bachelor’s degree, and I know they will be there for me again, now. They have been nothing but encouraging and supportive during my educational and professional ventures. I may also start planning some play dates for my kids to free up some of my time while they can have fun. I don’t plan on sacrificing a lot of time with my children, but knowing I have the help when and if I need it, is reassuring.
The last thing I plan to do is hire a house cleaner. There is just no doubt about it that having someone clean your home relieves time and allows you to focus on other tasks that may be more important for you. I have considered the cost benefit analysis of having a cleaner. I will have to make some personal sacrifices, like no more daily Caribou Coffee, but I can definitely fit a cleaner into my budget. If that frees up the time I need to meet my bigger professional goals, that is absolutely what I will do. Plus it’s probably best I don’t have Caribou Coffee every day, anyways.
I’ve also told my kids, which is something that was suggested to me by a friend. My kids will try to help hold me accountable and will be continuing to contribute their share of work around the house. They understand my taking exams and professional growth is something that benefits our entire family, and they are excited to help however they can.
So there you have it. I’ve shared with you something very scary, and very exciting. I am a single parent getting ready to work towards some big goals with the help of my network, and my amazing kids. There is no guarantee to pass exams, but I will never know unless I give it a real try. So, here I go!