The Only Thing Stopping You Is YOU!

cap-and-gownSo…it’s over!

The 3 year journey that took me through grad school: three universities, three programs, one degree — that actually sounds worse than it really is, and someday I’ll share the whole story with you, but not today.

I’ll end up with either a 3.88 or a 3.89 GPA depending on whether I made an A or a B on my final paper. If they conferred honors in grad school, that would be Summa Cum Laude (Highest Honors). For all but one semester of the last two years I spent at the University of Texas at Tyler, I was teaching full time; and during two of those semesters I was also completing my Alternative Teacher Certification. During this last summer and fall, I was, once again, saddled with severe anxiety attacks. But, I did it. I finished, and finished strong.

Now, I’m not telling you all of that to brag on myself, although I don’t apologize for telling people because the accomplishment is noteworthy. The reason I’m telling you all of that is because there’s something I want you to know about YOU! ….

The only thing stopping you from accomplishing your goals, your hopes, and your dreams…


It doesn’t have to be graduate school, or undergraduate school. . .college isn’t for everyone–and I say that as a teacher who values education! It could be a promotion at work. It could be travelinggreen around the world. It could be writing a book, or music, or a movie screenplay. Maybe you want to become a chef, or an airline mechanic, or join the military. Heck, for you younger folks, maybe your biggest goal right now is just making it through high school! The point is that whatever YOUR goals, hopes, or dreams might be, it is worth the effort it takes to do it and do it well.

The only thing stopping you from accomplishing your goals, your hopes, and your dreams…


I could have easily stopped pushing once I finished my bachelor’s degree in 2012. After 22 years, that was the one thing that no one believed I would ever do, and everyone believed I wouldn’t! If I had stopped then, I would have put all of those doubts to rest–even the ones in my own head. But, that wasn’t the end of my dream. You see, I’ve always wanted to teach; and since about 2008, when I watched The Last Lecture by Dr. Randy Pausch, I’ve wanted to teach at the college/university level. So, an undergraduate degree, as big an accomplishment as it was for me, wasn’t going to get that done. I knew that I had to keep going, so I jumped off into graduate school.

purpleThe only thing stopping you from accomplishing your goals, your hopes, and your dreams…


I could have easily stopped pushing when I had to leave Texas Christian University after less than a semester because of personal financial issues. It was pretty humiliating, especially since I’d made a big deal of telling people I was going. I wanted to slink off the grid into oblivion and become a hermit. As easy as that would have been to do, it wasn’t the end of my dream. That one taste of success I’d gotten when I finished at Texas Tech made me want more–it made me want to do more and to be more. So, instead of quitting, I took one grad course at Texas Tech that next spring just to keep my study chops warm while I figured out what to do next.

The only thing stopping you from accomplishing your goals, your hopes, and your dreams…


Once I found my way to UT Tyler, I could have easily stopped pushing after the first, second, third, or fourth semesters. I was exhausted. Being a full-time teacher is a 24/7 job, and being a full-be-youtime grad student is, too. I needed 48 hours a day and 14 days a week to do everything I had to do. But, I didn’t have it, so I had to make due with what the Good Lord provided. As easy as it would have been to quit, it wasn’t the end of my dream. Nothing worth having is easy–nor should it be. So, I fought through the exhaustion, the doubt, the fear, the worry, the stress, and finished my master’s degree.

The only thing stopping you from accomplishing your goals, your hopes, and your dreams…


I could easily stop now. I’m part of about 11% of the population with a graduate degree. I could kick back, watch TV, read a book, and be satisfied with where I am right now. I don’t know many people who would fault me for doing it. But, a master’s degree is not the end of my dream. I set out to earn a PhD by the time I’m 50. I’m not so sure I can do it in 5 years, but I will earn that degree. I am going to give myself a year off to decompress, but I am looking at several doctoral programs and will apply to them next year. I’m not ready to stop just yet.

The only thing stopping you from accomplishing your goals, your hopes, and your dreams…


handwritingI have more things I want to do, too, and I fully intend to get them done. But, what is it that YOU want to do?

What is that ONE THING that has always been in your heart and mind that you want to do MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE?

What is that ONE THING that you’ve always known you were meant to do, but just never had the time, the money, the energy, or the FAITH IN YOURSELF to make it happen?


If now is not the time, the time will never come. If you’re waiting on the “perfect timing” then you’ll live your life waiting because the perfect time doesn’t exist. Do what YOU want to do. Be who YOU want to be. Go, see, make whatever that thing is that has been GNAWING AT YOUR GUT all your life.

I know it’s there. You know it’s there. Make it happen!!

The only thing stopping you from accomplishing your goals, your hopes, and your dreams…




4 thoughts on “The Only Thing Stopping You Is YOU!

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  1. I didn’t have to read the entire post to know this was for me when I read the title. I’ve “taken off” 5 years now and will begin grad school in January. My fear of failure is truly what has fostered my putting it off and off and off. Thank you so much for the encouragement!!! And CONGRATULATIONS ON THE MASTERS!!!!! Merry Christmas my Friend.


    1. Sheree, I am so glad to read this!! It’s going to be the hardest but most rewarding thing you’ve ever done. I’m so happy for you! And thank you 🙂 Merry Christmas!


  2. Congratulations on a job well done! I can certainly relate to your story and hope that people who have dreams they’ve never accomplished will do so after reading your inspirational blog. It is EXCELLENT by the way!

    I began my undergraduate degree in Elementary Ed. at age 29. I had married young and had two children and that caused a postponement of my education BUT I, like you, always wanted to go to college. I began by taking two courses at night and worked full time during the day. At the end of that first semester I decided to quit my job and attend school full time hoping to finish my degree by age 34 and also be in the classroom teaching in the fall. Happy to say I accomplished that goal with a 3.9 grade point average! Anyone can do this if they set a goal and follow their dream. I was able to attend community college for two years and then transfer in 64 hours to the University of North Texas and then was able to graduate after commuting from Arlington for that last year! My family never missed a hot meal on the table at dinner time, kids never missed activities and I was an excellent role model for my kids in regard to studying etc. My kids were then in the 7th and 9th grades. After completing my degree I taught school for two years and then went to grad school at night (once again commuting to either Ft. Worth or to Denton) earning a masters degree in Public School Administration. I taught school for 28 years and then retired 16 years ago.

    Jay, earning your degrees is the greatest gift you can give yourself! You now have job security and have fulfilled your passion except for earning your PhD which I have no doubt you will Do! Again congratulations and a very Merry Christmas…Santa certainly came early for you!


    1. Thank you so much for reading an sharing your story! It is inspirational. We have, I believe, the capacity to achieve whatever we are willing to work hard to achieve. It can be done and is being done every day. Merry Christmas to you!!


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