There is a contagious disease in Spain (though I think it’s fairly global these days), which the Spanish have given the wonderful name of ‘titulitis’ – in English it would be title-itis I suppose, and it goes like this:
You get a degree (a typical titulo), then you realise you need a Masters degree in something, because everyone else has got a degree too, and then you feel an urge to do some important and well-recognised language exam, because everyone else is getting one… and so it goes on, the accumulation of ‘titulos’.
Examination boards flourish, our inner striver feels wonderfully nourished, and we keep taking exams and putting ourselves through hellishly exhausting courses, when we are often only interested in a tiny percentage of their actual content.
I have a degree, and a good qualification in a well-recognised Spanish language exam system, so I have not been immune to this affliction, but I have found a cure.
I call it “My own Private Masters Degree in Whatever I Feel Like!”
A few years ago I wanted to learn more about setting up, running, and making a success of an online business. We were doing OK with Notes in Spanish, and had the creativity side of things sorted out, but no idea about how to grow this into something that would really pay my wife and my wages, securely, for some time to come.
So I set about looking for a program that would teach me what I wanted to learn, and found there were exactly none.
I knew just want I needed – some self-confidence boosting, a pinch of ‘personal development’, lots of entrepreneurial skills, a great deal of (internet) marketing know-how… so I set about designing my own Do-It-Yourself masters degree in, well, all that stuff.
After spending a lot of time researching online, reading blogs, forums, and talking to friends that had some know-how in any of these areas, I came up with a list of books to read or listen to, and small-scale self-taught courses to work on. Soon I was happily studying and, crucially, putting into practice, my own fully-tailored, totally interesting, 100% useful, private masters degree.
And the results were amazing… our company grew, I grew, and I was really happy doing things my way instead of worrying about whether I ought to do an MBA or something equally exhausting instead.
Nowadays I’ve got two long-term, hands-on private masters degrees on the go: one on happiness, the other on parenting. I’m much more relaxed about these. I read a book or two about happiness, follow a blog for a while, listen to a talk by a Zen master, occasionally go on a retreat, go to talks about being a better dad at my son’s school… and again take care to put it all into practice.
There’s no title at the end of these courses, no certificates, no governing bodies or exam boards – just the happiness of knowing I’m learning exactly what I need, just when I want to.
If you think an MBA will make you happy or help you follow your dreams, go for it, but if you worry you’ve just got a classic case of titulitis, there is a cure: have fun learning exactly what motivates you, on your own terms, and in your own time.
There’s no university course or masters degree on the planet as good as the one you invent for yourself.