January 19, 2011

Reaching Our Goals Bit by Bit

We just finished tiling the backsplash in our kitchen – a job we started four years ago. We weren’t dilly-dallying, mind you – the kitchen ceiling needed to be re-sheetrocked first, and before that, the cabinets needed replacing.

It’s now been seven years since we started the do-it-yourself kitchen remodeling but as of last weekend, we’re done. Which is good, because a few months ago my husband tore all the plaster out of the dining room. Round two is now underway.

Owning an older home is a bit like building a career. There’s always something to improve and you can never assume you’re done. The analogy extends further, if you consider the dilemma we face in both arenas: Should we do it fast with outside financing, or poke away at it slowly?

The application of this decision is obvious in home remodeling. In career building, it can take on different aspects. For instance, you might have realized that learning Spanish would open more job opportunities to you, in terms of bilingual career paths. So do you take six months off and move to a Spanish-speaking country to learn the language quickly? If you do, you’ll be able to leverage your new skill almost immediately. But it will cost you, in terms of time off, travel expenses and the training itself – which might need to be paid with a loan.

For some people, this scenario isn’t even close to an option, particularly if they’re raising families or have debts to pay now. The solution? Build the new work credential – whether it’s a second language or an entire degree program – bit by bit, the way you remodel a house you plan to live in a long time. Sure, you’ll miss some opportunities by not being ready sooner, but you also have the opportunity to reap the smaller rewards along the way. When it comes to building career skills, those smaller rewards might be better assignments or promotions at the job you have now, or changes to slightly better jobs elsewhere.

I love my “new” kitchen and I’m very glad we don’t have a big bill to pay for it, even if it was a lot of work to do it this way. It’s good to know that little bits of effort do add up, and that we can make a difference for the future by doing small things now.

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