I’ve got a business trip coming up next week, so I’m getting out of town to an area where it’s a little bit warmer than it is here. It’s funny – with all the “polar vortex” action, I’m kind of used to it being pretty cold. It doesn’t even really register with me, to tell the truth. It just feels cold.
One of the nice things about this trip, is that I’ll be staying at a hotel that has outdoor hot tubs down by the pool. Even if it gets cold, the water is still warm, and I plan to spend a lot of my free time in the hot tub, whenever possible. Work out some of the winter aches from my bones. Get some serious heat therapy.
One of my hopes/dreams for my future is that someday I’ll have enough money to put a hot tub in the back of my house. It doesn’t have to be a big one — heck, it can be one of those Japanese models that seats one person. But I do eventually need a hot tub at my house. In all weather (except thunderstorms) I can be out there, taking the edge off. Soaking in hot water — like in a hot tub — is the only thing that actually reliably helps my pain, other than movement and getting my mind off things, and it helps me relax and sleep.
Considering how much good it does me, maybe I can get insurance to pay for it…
Anyway, I’ve got a FULL week ahead of me. I fly out tomorrow night — hopefully there will not be any bad weather to delay or cancel the flights. Then it’s non-stop go-go-go from Sunday at 7 a.m. till Wednesday evening. I’m going to get to see some of my relatives who live nearby, which will be great. But it’s all going to be a balancing act for four days solid.
In a way, I think this is going to be good for me. It will keep me out of my head, and it will keep me going. I’ve noticed over the past months, that I don’t actually do a lot of the things I should be doing — certain chores, certain tasks, certain to-do items on my honey-do list. It’s not that I can’t do them. They’re just so boring and easy for me to do, I have no interest. That’s how it often is for me — once I know how to do something and it’s easy for me to do, I lose interest and lose my edge, and I can’t be bothered. I guess I get in a rut, and then I feel really demoralized and demotivated, and things fall apart.
Just gotta keep it real. Gotta keep it fresh. And get out of my head.
One of the things I’m doing differently now, is not keeping a notebook full of notes and lists of things to do. I’m sick of it. It’s just one long list after another, and where’s the joy? Once upon a time, I lived for my lists. They kept me engaged and on track. But now they just irritate me. I guess that means I’m getting better (?). Either that, or I’m in complete denial 😉
In any case, I’ve exchanged my three-subject spiral-bound notebook with all its pockets for notes and receipts and slips and what-not, for a “grown up” weekly calendar that doesn’t give me unlimited space for impossibly long lists of things to do. I use big lined post-it notes to list out all the things I need to do for the week, and then I pick and choose which ones I’ll do each day.
And I only take on one or two things per day, instead of the whole list.
That way, I can focus on one or two things at a time, and not get all distracted and whatnot.
And I can also cut myself a break. Looking back at the past years… holy smokes, it has been a whirlwind tour, with a constant flow of activity. I think last year was a “reset” year for me, to really stop the hamster wheel B.S. and really think about what I am doing, when I am doing it. Up until this past year, when things were so uncertain at work, and there was no real direction from our leadership, and we were all left to fend for ourselves pretty much, I’d been going-going-going at the office. Last year gave me a chance to “recalibrate” my approach and get a better, deeper understanding of my day-job work.
But even last year, when things were less frantic at the office, they were crazy-frantic in my overall life. I had a major personal project that really took a lot from me. I mean, I was working almost non-stop for most of the year… moving and shaking and wheeling and dealing… and I thought for sure it was going to change my life in a completely new direction. That actually did not work, because my project did not take off the way I expected it to. It was one disappointment after another, and I know I let some people down along the way.
Still, looking back, now it seems like a bit of a dream. I’ve “unhooked” from that almost addictive level of frantic activity, and I’ve settled into just wanting to narrow my focus and concentrate on my day-job now. It’s amazing how different things are, than they were just six months ago. It’s a completely different world, and I’m glad I didn’t bolt earlier. I have more responsibility, more opportunity, and I can see my way much more clearly.
Adjusting to the greater level of responsibility and pressure is actually not as big of a deal for me as everyone around me is experiencing. That’s what I have to keep in mind. I have been through much more intense situations in the past — I was going through this kind of organizational upheaval, 15 years ago, and in the past decade and a half, I have learned a ton of things — most of which are now instinctual, so I can’t articulate exactly what they are.
The biggest barrier to my success, right now, is listening to the hype from others. The other folks on my team are 10… 15… 20 years behind me in terms of this kind of experience, so they’re going to be going through a lot of drama and changes in the coming year. For me, this all feels quite familiar, and I totally screwed things up in the past because of being rash and untempered and hot-blooded, so I know what not to do, this time around, in order to improve my chances for advancement.
I need to remember this, as I move forward, and not let others’ drama get into my head. They are in a different universe from me, so I can’t let their perceptions cloud my own.
You know, it’s funny — now that things are evolving and the company is growing and we are going through all kinds of growing pains, I remember that this growth was the big reason I signed on with this company. Originally, they were around 700+ employees, which seemed too small for me at the time, but I figured that the parent company would be integrating them into the overall organization before too long. I figured, “Well, this (small, independent status) isn’t going to last long.” And I was right about that hunch. I didn’t actually want to work at a small company, but I signed on because of the chance that it would get big.
And so it has.
I had completely forgotten about that go-big hunch. In the course of the first year I was there, I acclimated to how things were, and I completely forgot about my expectations that it wouldn’t last. And I actually got comfortable with certain aspects of that kind of life.
Then things started to change, and I got so caught up in my resistance to change (even if it was for the better) and my disorientation and feeling totally victimized, that I lost sight of the good that was possible. I couldn’t see it. Nobody could, actually. All I knew was, things were changing, and I didn’t like that at all. It didn’t make things any easier, that I couldn’t see a future at that company, and I didn’t see the point in acclimating to anything.
Now the organization has shifted, and true to my base hunch, things are working in my favor. I do well in large organizations. People feel comfortable around me, they feel calmer when I’m with them, and when I’m “on”, I actually make work fun. I do well in a big, anonymous environment, where everyone is just trying to get their job done in the face of lots of limitations — like budget, time, manpower, etc. So, this shift is in my favor.
This is the first time in my life that I can see the forest, instead of the trees, and the forest looks pretty good. I credit my TBI recovery with this new-found “superpower” — being able to screen out the distractions and pointless things, to focus on the bigger picture. In the process of recovering from my post-concussive symptoms, I am developing my ability to see opportunity and chances for growth, instead of a constant stream of irritating, frustrating distractions. And that’s good.
It’s good for me, and it’s good for everyone around me.
The best part is, it gets me out of my head. Back when I was just doing coding, all the social stuff was very alienating for me. I was in the habit of focusing on little pieces of code, small subsets of functionality, and I wasn’t actually getting paid to see the big picture. If anything, that got beaten out of me, because every time I tried to address the bigger picture, the people running the show would put me back in my place.
Now, though, I’m doing completely different work, and the big picture is very much a part of what I do. It’s actually what I’m supposed to do. And rather than being limited by bosses who want me to stay in my place, I’m being given the green light to move ahead and Think Big, Talk Big, Be Big.
Which is pretty danged cool. I’ve earned it. By God, I’ve earned it.
So, all this Big-ness is keeping me out of my head. I can’t get stuck in all the little details, because people need to see results, and I need to complete my tasks and duties in a timely manner. I literally have to move on — or else. I don’t have to figure everything out perfectly, up front. That’s not my job. My job is to come up with a framework, an overall plan, a strategy, and an infrastructure for a new system of getting a certain type of work done, and communicate that to everyone involved.
I’m not at the busy-work level anymore for most of what I do. Some of it is still hands-on day-to-day busy-ness, but that’s fading. And in another year, I doubt I’m going to be burdened with that. All the little details are being handled by others — it’s their job, not mine. And I’m happy to let them handle things. This frees me up to think about the bigger picture in ways I could never do before. And it’s good.
So, I should get going and take myself to work. I’ve got another full day ahead of me, and there’s a bunch of stuff that needs to get sorted out before I pack it in at the office and start packing my bags for the trip. This conference is an annual event that I originally dreaded, and which was a HUGE challenge for me. But now I am actually looking forward to it, and even if it is non-stop craziness, I know there is an end in sight. And I can rest when I get home.
While I’m there, though, there’s that hot tub down by the pool that has my name on it.