Chase the Cheese

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Who moved my cheese? It was here a minute ago, but now it’s gone. It was tasty cheese—a nice, hard BellaVitano balsamic cheese that goes great with a glass of wine (although, my husband prefers that mushy Laughing Cow stuff that I’d hardly call cheese at all). In any case, the cheese is gone and I have to make a decision: look for new cheese or wait for new cheese to come to me.

Maybe you’ve seen this book as you browsed the shelves at Barnes & Noble: Who Moved My Cheese? I’d had my eye on it for years and finally read through its pages just recently. It was well worth the short read. If you like big words—no, not words with a lot of letters but, quite literally, big words, probably about 14-point font—and cheesy quotes (nice play on words, eh?) then you’ll enjoy this book. Even if you don’t like either of those things, you’ll still probably enjoy this book.

In short, it’s about two mice and two people the size of mice who all live in a maze. Each day they travel to a spot in the maze that has an abundance of yummy cheese. One day they arrive to find the cheese is no longer there. The two mice immediately set out to find a new supply of cheese—one tends to use his nose to smell it out while the other tends to use his feet to quickly look for it. The two tiny people refuse to look for new cheese and keep going back to the same spot as always to wait for cheese to be brought to them. Needless to say, the cheese never comes. After some time, one of the tiny people decides to venture out, despite how scary the maze is, to find new cheese, while the other tiny person stubbornly refuses to do anything differently than he has always done.

When someone moves your cheese—when something happens in life that upsets your schedule or interferes with your goals or throws you for a loop in some other way—how do you react? Do you quickly look for opportunities to adjust and find more tasty cheese? Do you initially resist the change—be it to your schedule or your study methods or learning new technology—but eventually see the benefit of getting out of your comfort zone to take advantage of new cheese? Or do you always and forever refuse to adapt and end up missing out entirely?

Likely most of us tend to initially resist change but eventually give in to it. After all, change is inevitable. But what if you were to adjust to change sooner and take the “eventually” out of the equation?

Suppose you’re truckin’ through your online course at a nice pace and suddenly, bam! life happens—your husband loses his job or you have to move or someone close to you becomes ill. Abrupt changes that interrupt our comfortable and familiar lives are stressful. Suddenly it seems that our brain can’t sleep while our body can’t move, our life is chaotic and fast-paced yet we can’t seem to get anything done. Oh, eventually we’ll accept the fact that things have changed and we have to change too. Eventually we’ll figure out a new schedule that allows us to get back to what we had been doing before, such as our online coursework. Eventually we’ll give up on waiting for our cheese to show up (or for things to get back to normal) and start looking for new cheese. But why wait at all? If we’re going to have to change eventually anyway, why not start the moment the opportunity for change arises? When something happens, take immediate action to make necessary adjustments. Don’t allow changes you can’t control to take control.

Many times I’ve seen students post on the forums that they’re discouraged, not because the course is too hard but because they allowed things that happened take them away from their coursework. When they finally returned to it they felt lost and overwhelmed with the daunting task of picking up where they left off. Eventually they had to get back to their coursework, but it was harder to make the adjustment of returning to it—having forgotten so much information and having lost a lot of motivation—than it would have been to keep at it all along.

While change is inevitable, progress is optional, so expect change and prepare for it in advance so as not to hinder your progress. When your cheese moves, don’t wait for the cheese to return. Chase the cheese!

-Heather Garrett
Skills Assessment


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  1. Nicole February 27, 2014

    Absolutely loved your blog on Chase the Cheese. I have had to print out a copy of my study planner for my projected goal date just so I stay on track. Four months into the program, my husband and I moved out of state. I couldn’t get on the computer to do my course work until my house was organized. So, within 2 days of moving, I had all my boxes unpacked and entire 3-bedroom apartment organized. I do find it easier to follow a schedule I can stick with. Some days I dread getting on the transcription modules, but once I get started I feel so much better. I love cheese!


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