Counting the calories of professional milestones
Last week I qualified as a chartered financial planner. I achieved something that I've worked towards for eight years; although, for much of that time, I didn't know what I was heading for.
When I took my first CF1 exam the 'dream' was to achieve the certificate in financial planning. A few years later, it was replaced with a new dream: I just had to achieve a diploma.
My goalposts, and the expectations of the industry, had changed. And I wanted more.
Soon enough, the diploma was completed and I found myself, as a new paraplanner, trying to hold my own around exceptionally experienced and well qualified advisers and paraplanners. But again, I wanted more.
I wanted to be viewed in the same way as my peers, and to be able to prove just how much knowledge and experience I had - and could - acquire.
My Dad has always ribbed me by saying that, in my mind, learning a subject was not enough; I needed an exam to take or a pass mark to accept. I think that is quite true. I like the clarity of a piece of paper saying "I did that".
However, something happened last Friday that reminded me of the importance of progress, whether it's on paper or not.
I started working with a trainer at the gym a year ago. The scales tell me that I've lost two stone but I've been grumbling at my progress. In my mind, there is so much left to be done and it's going really slowly.
But last Friday, my trainer strapped a two-stone waistjacket to me and made me do circuits for an hour.
Pretty soon, I began to realise how far I had actually come and that things were not going slowly at all. My goalposts had just changed. What I want now is so different to what I wanted at the start and my capacity to achieve it is that much higher.
I am really chuffed to have become a chartered financial planner and realise that there is so much more I want to achieve. The goalposts - and no doubt industry expectations - will change yet again. However, now it's not just a title or a piece of paper - it's a milestone towards a much larger goal.