“I think I need to go back to school and, you know, get another qualification….”

You’d be amazed how often I hear these words – or some version thereof – come out of women’s mouths. (Side note – I don’t think I’ve ever heard a man utter the same words). 

These words come up so regularly in my coaching and mentoring work that I even have a standard response to them. It rolls off my tongue with so easily these days it almost surprises me.

My response goes something like:

“Mmm. Education is never wasted. But how much education do you need? I’m interested to know what you are planning to study and why you think you need further education right now? If it is something you feel passionate about and want to learn, then go for it. If you think you need more study to further your career, then I recommend you explore the idea a little further.” 

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge fan of education and ongoing development. I have tertiary qualifications and I’m always completing a course of some kind. And ‘love of learning’ comes up as one of the top categories in every strengths survey I ever do.

Way too often I see women using the idea of further education as an excuse for not taking the next step in their career. They might use this excuse to stop themselves from stepping into their power in their current role. Or they’ll use their perceived lack of education as a reason not to go for a promotion.

It seems that so many women share a common misconception that education unpins confidence. But learning is only one element that underpins confidence. And more than anything else, it is taking action that builds women’s confidence. 

It is the doing – sometimes one baby step at a time – that eventually leads to that feeling of ‘I’ve got this’. 

If the need for ‘more learning’ resonates with you, here are my top three tips for deciding if you need to sign up for yet another course.

How much education do you need?

Tip one

Dig into the accuracy of the thought. Perhaps your career goals do need you to return to study. And if this is the case, I highly recommend that you use an ‘and – at the same time – ’ strategy. Get the education and – at the same time – go for the bigger role. Go for the qualification and – at the same time – step into your power.

That said, there an equally good chance that you don’t need further study to reach your aspirations. Speak with recruiters and others in the role or field you are looking to enter to understand the true education requirements. Or grab a pen and paper and explore what other skills, strengths and experience you currently have.

You might find that your existing experience outweighs further education.

Tip two

If you prove to yourself that more schooling isn’t required, recognise your thoughts about returning to study for they are. 

Limiting beliefs that erect barriers which keep you from taking the next step. 

Once you’ve made that realisation, take a moment to celebrate. You can’t fix what you don’t know about. And by reflecting on all this, you’ve given yourself every opportunity to solve the real problem. And the real problem often stems from feelings of not being good enough. 

Tip three

Start taking immediate actions that move you in the direction of your goals. (I’m willing to bet you saw this tip coming.) 

Say yes to:

  • the mentoring opportunity;
  • applying for the job;
  • the speaking gig;
  • or whatever else you’ve been telling yourself you are not qualified for.

It’s saying yes that will build your confidence. 

How much education do you need? Have you ever used the need for more education or another qualification as an excuse to hold yourself back? I’d love for you to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.

Until next time – Janelle.

P.S. If this post has left you feeling like you need support in this space, one-on-one coaching could be the answer. Click here to book a complimentary 30 minute discovery call to explore whether I’m the right coach for you. I’ll also be able to answer any general questions you might have about my coaching process.

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