Letter grades are one of the hallmarks of the American education system. Whether it’s an A or an F or something in between, letter grades define our academic abilities as students for nearly two decades of life. And then what? People still talk about succeeding and fret at the notion of failing. What would happen if we altered the verbiage and recategorized failure?
That is, in fact, one of my favorite parts of summer school. Since these are non-credit classes given my students’ ages, I assess individual skill strands. I don’t have to worry about assigning letter grades that have to translate into GPA points and transcript data. My favorite category? Not yet. There is no F. There is no no. Instead, a student is either mastering a skill, developing a skill, or hasn’t done it quite yet. More chances will be offered, and there is more work to be done. She hasn’t failed. He hasn’t flunked. They’re just not ready yet.
As someone who
obsessed obsesses over failure regularly, removing the notion of failing from my mindset has been liberating. I haven’t flunked personal finance. I haven’t failed a goal. I’m just not there yet. I’ll get there. I might be on mile two while everyone else is eyeing the finish line, but I’ll keep trudging on. In the spirit of summer school, here are my not yets–financial and otherwise.
My Financial Not Yets
Invest with confidence. If you’ve followed my blog or my Twitter feed at all, you are well versed in the fact that I am investing. It’s the confidence part that has yet to arrive. In addition to not having spent a lot of time in the markets, the markets have been so hot and cold, yes and no, in and out, up and down*. A lack of experience coupled with subpar results is a difficult combination. As a result, I definitely only just starting to develop my confidence. Onward.
*I know you wanted a Katy Perry earworm. I could feel it.
Spend my emergency fund. I created an emergency fund. I got to a number that felt good to me. I even moved it to an account in order to score a sign-up bonus and earn a higher interest rate. But I still can’t really bring myself to spend it. The thought of parting with any of it makes me downright twitchy. Of course, I know it’s ideal to maintain a fully-funded account. I’d also like to think we’re done with our share of disasters
for life the year today. But I really am working at coming to terms with the fact that the money is there to be spent when a need arises.
Open another retirement account. It’s really easy to blame fee-heavy companies (ahem, AXA) or my district. But really, it’s my fault as well. I’m only just starting to explore and advocate for better options besides my Roth IRA. And I’m not a new teacher. However, instead of resigning myself to the fact that I haven’t started a 403b that satisfies my criteria, I’m going to keep looking. Feel free to chime in and follow my saga on Twitter.
Other Not Yets
Make mulch from my compost bin. I’m going to chalk this one up to time. I think I know what I’m doing, mostly because the idea of letting things decompose doesn’t seem to involve me all that much. I’ve certainly been consistent. But it’s only been three weeks, so there’s really nothing that resembles anything other than vegetable scraps, wet newspaper, and dried leaves mashed together. Some smells maybe.
Run more than two miles without stopping. I have been consistently terrible at running my entire life. I could rattle off a litany of excuses from mild asthma to back problems, but mostly I don’t enjoy it and I’m not good at it. As a result, I spent the better part of my fitness life doing other things. However, I have churned out at least a mile every day without stopping this summer.
Play piano with the same skill as I once did. I recently recaptured my piano from my parents’ house. I
tickle plunk the ivories fairly regularly, but this is not like riding a bike. I can play, but I can’t play like I used to. Yet.
Speak Spanish fluently enough to not hesitate or feel awkward when I travel. Oh, Spanish. Had I been braver as a student, I would have studied abroad for longer than two weeks, and I would have pursued more Spanish. However, I lived in eternal fear of
failure a B. I’m much more daring with my language practice now. And my students really get a kick out of helping me bumble my way through.
The list really could go on. Life is a continum. While there may be checkpoints and deadlines along the way, there is nothing stopping me from continuing to hone my skills and interests. Now that I’m opening myself up to more opportunities, I realize what a colossal work in progress I am. And there’s nothing I’d rather be.
So Tell Me…What are your not yets? What skill or insight have you recently improved?