Stop. Take a walk. Why are you doing this? Let's talk it through, together.

'If you know why you want something, you are more likely to get it.' Think about that.

You are ahead of the game: you are managing your own MBA. That gets you flexibility (of curriculum, of time). It saves you money and allows you to ease yourself into the real thing, if that is what you fancy doing later on. Even so, it's worth examining — what is it about those three magic letters? And if you know why, you really are more likely to get it.

Here's what I mean. You've taken up archery and love it. Obviously, initially — for good safety reasons — you are confined to the indoor range. But eventually your coach says you are ready for the outside world. You go outside, eager with anticipation. Your coach stands back and says 'Go for it; fire a few arrows'. You look around, feeling a little silly. 'Er — where's the target?' 'Oh,' says your coach, 'we don't do targets.' And you think, where's the fun in that? The moral of the tale? No target: no results. So let's look at some MBA targets.

Why do an MBA?

Stop. Take a walk. Why are you doing this? Let's talk it through, together. 'I will make more money.' Possibly, not necessarily. The first 'MBAers' were rare people, so they were highly desirable and could command higher salaries. But, as you are aware, the MBA is rapidly becoming a commodity. Some employers have even — shock, horror — begun to say they don't want 'MBAers'. So you probably shouldn't do any form of MBA just to get a salary increase. There are probably easier ways, such as doing an astounding job in your own organisation and getting promotion.

Stop. Take a walk. Why are you doing this? Let's talk it through, together. 'I will be more marketable.' That's probably true. MBA thinking and study is much more aligned to the business world than first and general degrees. Equally, it requires higher levels of rigour — for instance, in analysis and critical thinking — which is valuable. That's probably a good reason for doing a formal MBA and certainly for managing your own MBA as you are now doing.

Stop. Take a walk. Why are you doing this? Let's talk it through, together. 'I want prestige.' It will give you that to a certain extent, especially if you can get into the right school. But it's a lot of time and money if you just simply want to feel good about having gained an MBA. You can get prestige in other ways: a successful, well-read blog, for example. This is probably not a good reason if it is your only one.

Stop. Take a walk. Why are you doing this? Let's talk it through, together. 'I want time to think.' Certainly this will be the case, but talk to past students and you will discover that you do have to work to get that time; otherwise you will find you are busy and time can rush by. But with good time discipline, yes, you can get time to think in an environment which actively encourages that. A great reason — and one which managing your own MBA really encourages, of course.

Stop. Take a walk. Why are you doing this? Let's talk it through, together. 'I want to build my value.' Yes, another great reason. You will build your value and you will feel more confident in your value.

Stop. Take a walk. Why are you doing this? Let's talk it through, together. 'I want to become smarter.' And another great reason. You'll develop your thinking, particularly your critical thinking, and you will become smarter.

Stop. Take a walk. Why are you doing this? Let's talk it through, together. 'I want to do something different but I am not sure what.' Mmm. Maybe. Maybe a month off would give you the reflection time you need? (And maybe you should try an extended break before launching on to a busy academic year.) After all, the MBA gives a very blinkered view of 'something different' and, despite what people think, few MBA courses are really hot on career guidance.

Stop. Take a walk. Why are you doing this? Let's talk it through, together. 'My company pays for me.' Now, this is a tricky one. It's almost too easy and how can you turn down such an opportunity? I really — in the nicest possible way — hope you have to fight to get a place. You don't? Well, I suggest you pretend you do: write a 500-word application on why you want to do one. Otherwise, there's no real passion and no real results.

I'm going to scrap the MBA. In an age of creativity — design — innovation, who wants to be a 'Master' of 'Administration'? Master of 'Paper Pushing'? Computers do that. Tom Peters

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