New direction – old faithful direction

Reaching out to others is what brings us back to ourselves
Reaching out to others is what brings us back to ourselves

I’ve been excited about different new career directions, over the past years. The only thing is, I found out I wasn’t fully qualified to go in those directions, and I’ve been increasingly “outclassed” by folks with pretty heavy-duty qualifications who have the certifications needed to make it all happen. This system I’m learning really ties together my experience in technology, past experience I’ve had, and it keeps me going in the direction I need to go. It’s a certain way of working with teams, and a certain way of getting projects done, and it really fits me to a “T”.

It’s a system that was invented by people like me, for people like me — and it’s the darling of all those C-level executives who want to tell the world they use this methodology.

So, that’s good. And I really feel as though I’m set with this. My retirement savings all went away after my TBI in 2004, and I’ve been really struggling financially for quite some time. There’s been a huge amount of uncertainty in my financial life, and a big part of that was around job uncertainty. I haven’t been totally clear on the direction I need to go, in part because I haven’t been totally clear about the kind of work I can/should do, and the types of people I can/should work with.

As it turns out, after doing a fair amount of thinking and reading online, I’ve realized that high-high tech is really my “tribe” — and that’s in large part because of the neurodiversity. I’ve always worked with people who could be called “Aspies” — folks on the “high-functioning” end of the autistic spectrum, whose ways of communicating and thinking are quite different from the norm. I’ve got my own set of communication and thinking differences, and there’s something really soothing about working with folks who not only know what it’s like to be out of synch with the rest of the world, but also have a thinking and communication style that’s got pauses and different sorts of pacing all tied together.

Back in the day, when I first worked in high tech, I was surrounded by very strange and wonderful people who were very, very different from the rest of the world. I joined them not long after I’d had a car accident, and my thinking and coordination were pretty screwed up. I wasn’t particularly good at making small talk and following conversations with people, and I kept to myself. They left me alone, and they let me do my programming work, and I did it extremely well. They never pressured me to be super-social, and even when I committed some major social faux-pas because I was overwhelmed and couldn’t handle myself socially, they didn’t hold it against me.

And after about 6 months of working with them, all of a sudden, I got my sense of humor back, I was able to handle the pacing of conversations — and with more than one person — and I became an important part of their little tribe.

They gave me the room to heal and work my way back from the effects of that car accident. I never discussed the accident with anyone — and didn’t even realize was affecting me — all I knew was, I didn’t want to deal with anyone, didn’t want to talk to anyone, wasn’t comfortable navigating the social sphere, and all I wanted to do was sit in front of my computer and code. But after a while of being left to my own devices and gradually and slowly brought into their midst, I healed. I was able to chat again, talk again, interact again, in a much more fluid way than I had, when I first started.

And a lot of those folks could easily be labelled as “Aspies” or on the autistic spectrum. They were an odd crowd, for sure — in the best way possible.

I’ve been struggling in my work situation for a number of years, primarily (now I realize) because I’ve been surrounded by so-called “neurotypical” folks who have been extroverted and really interactive, with average sorts of thinking and communication styles. And that’s been a huge struggle.Β  It’s been years since I’ve worked with a hard-core gang of Aspie folks in a really high-performance work environment, and I realize now that the problem hasn’t been with me — it’s been with me being in the wrong kind of environment. I need to work with a close-knit group of neurodiverse folks, in a situation that makes the most of everyone’s abilities.

That works for me. It makes the most of my abilities, which include motivating and including people who may feel marginalized and pushed aside. I’ve had some great success doing that, in the past years, at various jobs. But my current situation doesn’t really allow me to do that. I’m too isolated. I’m too blocked off from a real team. And because we’re all battling the same lack of resources,

And the beauty part is, this new system I’m learning will give me the skills and the cred to “slot” right into that sort of role.

So, yeah – it’s becoming a lot clearer to me. I need to work with hard-core technical folks, and I need to do it in a capacity where I can add value. I used to be a damn’ good programmer, but after my accident in 2004, I haven’t been able to work reliably. I’m good for maybe a few weeks, then I crash and can’t function. On the other hand, I’m an excellent team leader and I know how to include and motivate people and bring together disparate types of folks to achieve a common goal.

And that’s worth a lot in this high tech world. It’s not about your plan and vision – it’s about execution and delivery. And that’s where I excel – helping a team to execute and deliver. To be their best. To really rise above and beyond and do amazing things.

I never thought I could do that before, because it didn’t feel like I was being effective. I would be so wiped out after the intense work, I was sure I’d failed. And I didn’t understand my communication and thinking challenges. I didn’t realize that I had problems, and I had to do something about them.

Once I realized that I did have issues with slowed processing, and I realized I could actually do something about those things — and I got the chance to work with people who had communication issues, themselves (as in, the international folks I used to work with) — that really turned things around for me. Thanks to my old neuropsych, I got my head around that, and voila! Magic happened.

Now I need to make more magic happen.

And so I shall.

Onward.

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Getting my act back together

checklistOver the past couple of years, I feel as though I’ve let a lot of things slide. The main focus (with my neuropsych) was really on getting myself to not have such a harsh view of myself, and to lighten up on the “Type A” behavior and mindset.

That had its advantages, and I did learn to have a lot more compassion for myself. But it didn’t come without a cost.

I let a lot of things go. I wasn’t as consistent as I would have liked, with my undertakings and follow-through. To some, it looked like I was doing great, but under the surface, I was borderline-dissatisfied with how things were going.

And I knew I wanted to do better.

So, what sort of things do I want to improve?

First, how I take care of everyday business – paying bills, taking out the trash, keeping my home neat and clean. I get so blocked by all the details, and I end up feeling so overwhelmed — and then stupid, because I keep thinking, “it shouldn’t be this hard for me”.

And then nothing gets done.

So my new neuropsych is going to help me with this. They’re going to help me sort out the things that overwhelm me — and I can’t be embarrassed about getting overwhelmed about things. I just have to say it like it is, and get some help.

It’s more important to me to get myself in order and restore some real structure to certain aspects of my life, than to look good. I had that problem with my last neuropsych – I was a little too concerned with not looking like an idiot. But this one seems to have a much more frank perception of my issues, and they’re much more interested in working with me in goal-oriented ways.

Which is good.

So, this is a shift. It’s a change. And change is never easy for me. The thing is, I’ve been needing to make this change. I’ve been whining about feeling like I was being prevented from making this change. So, it makes no sense for me to block it from progressing.

Baby steps. One at a time. Crawl, walk, run… Or maybe just walk for a while, rather than running. The main thing is to keep going consistently and use my head, so I don’t get blown out of the water by my own enthusiasm. I tend to do that.

On it goes. Onward…

 

 

 

That One Pure Thing

Somebody has to wait their turn...
Somebody has to wait their turn…

I took time out over the weekend to focus in on getting some things done that have been hanging over my head for quite some time. I had an idea that needed to be developed, and so I developed it. I cleared everything else off my creative plate, pretty much, and I just worked on That One Thing.

And as it turned out, it was a very productive time. I really got a lot done.

I didn’t hash through all the other millions of things in my mind, which I also want to do. I focused on That One Thing.

Plus, when I wasn’t working, I did the other things that I need to do regularly — I got my naps, I did my morning workouts, I got some acupuncture, I went for a couple of hikes and long walks down the road, and I made some good meals.

And I got ‘er done.

Which is great, because I have a tendency to start things and not follow through. That’s gotta change, I know. I’ve been able to sorta kinda mozy along, jumping from one distraction/interruption to another, and piecing it all together bit by bit as part of a “flow”.

The thing is, “flow” for me is more about my pesky lack of resistance to short-term interference. This can happen when you get hit in the head a lot – like I have been. You get distractable and can’t sustain attention. Your mind knows it wants to focus on one thing at a time, but your brain just ain’t feelin’ it. It’s not just that it ain’t feelin’ it — it’s literally incapable of dealing with it. It just can’t.

My own resistance to short-term interference is almost in the single-digit percentile. It’s really, really bad. As in, 90″ of the people in the world are better at resisting disruption from interference, than I am. It’s not that I don’t want to — I do. It’s just that the wiring in my brain has gotten a bit frayed from all those concussions / mild TBIs, and it doesn’t light up as well as it might otherwise.

So, what’s the solution? Clearly, I need to come up with some approach that lets me function. I can’t go through life jumping from one thing to the next.

And this past weekend, I made some headway on things.

By realizing — after looking at my List O’ Things To Do — that I was never going to make progress, if I kept letting one thing trump another. I just needed to buckle down, make some choices, and Do That One Thing.

As purely as I could.

So, I did. And today I have an actual finished project under my belt.

And that’s pretty cool – not to mention a relief.

Happy Monday, everyone. Onward.

 

 

 

 

Focus… magic

Keeping eyes on the prize on down the road
Keeping eyes on the prize on down the road

So, I have my weekly schedule together. And I am focusing on one project at a time. And it is magical, what the focus brings me.

Just being able to say “No – not yet” to some of my projects gives me the energy boost I need.

Because I can actually get things done.

And I don’t have a gazillion competing ideas rattling ’round in my head, sucking my energy away.

Onward. For sure.

Picking my battles carefully

Save your energy…

So, this week has been interesting. I’ve been working very long hours (12-14 hours a day), trying to clean up a lot of outstanding tasks that are months late. In the past, it made me crazy to be late on anything, or to fall short on anything I undertook. It just wasn’t allowed – and it worked out in favor of my standard of living, because nobody loves an overachiever more than a company that knows how to put that OCD impulse to good use to make a lot of money.

I’ve done well by my employers, if I say so myself. And before my TBI in 2004, I’d long been in the habit of never tolerating anything less than my best effort. I was always locked on target to continuously out-do myself, no matter what. But then I fell down those damned stairs, and things started to unravel. So much fell apart — slowly and quickly — and before long, I was just happy to be getting through the day.

One of the toughest things about my TBI after-effects, is having to deal with sudden onslaughts of all sorts of mediocrity. I was in a meeting the other day, discussing a project that I was doing a very poor job of managing. The whole thing had just gone off the rails, and I was a little freaked out about the whole thing. In this meeting, we were trying to come up with solutions about how to handle things, and I was getting very turned around and confused, not connecting the dots, and generally not representing very well.

It was pretty disconcerting for me. I’ve long been accustomed to being one of the “with it” people in the room, but that day, I was definitely not. So, I stepped back and just let the other folks who were with it talk amongst themselves and come up with a better solution.

And it worked out okay. We finished the meeting on an up note, and I got some new ideas about how to fine-tune the way I work with other people.

It just wasn’t a very good feeling, to sit there all foggy and clueless, not following the conversation and not being much help at all.

I hate this kind of chaos. I feel stupid and dense and impaired. Right now I’m feeling pretty impaired, actually, because I am tired, I am stressed, and I need to start working on some of my take-home tasks in a little bit. I need to hammer out some work before the weekend is over — and my spouse is inviting company over tonight, to stay into tomorrow, which takes a bunch of productive hours away from me in the morning. Shit. Oh, well. Welcome to my chaotic life — that’s just how it’s been, lately.

Actually, now that I think about it, the chaos has been ongoing since before the holidays — since before Thanksgiving time, when the holiday scheduling difficulties started to happen. So, since around the middle of November, things have been up in the air, and I’ve just been treading water, trying to get things done, to precious little avail. Three full months of uncertainty and scheduling problems, holidays and travel and jet lag and exhaustion… and more.

It’s just sucked so terribly, it’s unreal.

It’s almost as if the people who are in charge of setting the stage just don’t give a damn about whether or not anything gets done. It’s all on us to “manage” — and if we can’t keep up and can’t meet our goals and get everything done that we need to get done, well, it’s on us. Nobody seems to care anymore if things are actually done.Β  Nobody actually seems to care if things are left half-baked and fraught with uncertainty. It’s almost as though nobody cares about actual quality, as long as the “experience” people are having is acceptable.

Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but it seems to me that something should actually get done, every now and then.

I feel a rant coming on, but I’m going to step away from that, because it’s not worth it.

And here’s the crux of it all — I’ve been picking and choosing my battles, figuring out what matters most to me, and focusing on that, and letting the rest of it go. Some things I just can’t afford to get worked up over — things like sitting in a meeting and not feeling like I’m actually following everything that’s going on… or falling short on one project after another, and yet deciding to not get crazed about trying to keep up…

It’s best I concentrate on focusing on the good that I do have, and leaving the rest of it alone.

My time is much better spent on figuring out what I want to do with myself, and how good I want my life to be, instead of bitching about how bad things are right now.

It’s funny — I’m reaching a slightly different perception of my employer, these days. They keep taking things surveys at work asking about how people feel about working there, and every year the scores come back lower and lower. It’s kind of sad, that there are so many miserable people working there. At the same time, though, I think it has a lot to do with the character of the people working there. The fact of the matter is, we are responsible for what we make of things. All of us at work can make our situations into anything we want or need. We’re not helpless victims, and we have the power to control our attitudes and our gratitude.

And it occurs to me that maybe the problem isn’t so much that I’m working at a terrible place. Maybe the problem is that I work with a bunch of whiners. Thousands of them, in fact. They do a lot of bitching and complaining about just about everything under the sun. And I get really tired of hearing them bitch and complain about every little thing. It’s really up to us, to make things right — not to expect someone else to come along and fix it all for us.

At some point, you’ve gotta start acting like an adult.

I mean, geez, if people knew half the crap I have to wade through, just to get through the day, they’d probably run screaming from the building. But when you have to deal with it, you have to deal with it. The pain, the confusion, the fatigue, the emotional roller-coaster, the constant ringing in my ears, the unpredictable coordination, and this brain that just loves to crap out on me at just the wrong times… it’s just how things are, and I have to deal with it.

So, I’ve got a lot on my plate. And I have to pick and choose the battles I fight. The fact of the matter is, I am working with less working memory capacity and some pretty significant attentional issues, so if I get all worked up over things and I spend all my energy fighting against stuff that’s not going to change from me getting bent out of shape… then I just hurt myself. And I don’t want to do that. Getting a handle on what I can change, and focusing on fixing that, rather than spending a lot of time and energy beating myself up over things that are already done and can’t be undone, is a much better use of my time and energy. And it pays off in very big ways.

This weekend, I’m battling a bunch of backlogged work that I need to sort through. I’ve got so much to do, it’s crazy — and it’s all sorts of work, both tactical and strategic. So, no, I can’t worry about sitting in that meeting, earlier this week, and losing my place, not following what was going on, and getting turned around. Screw that. I don’t have the time. I’ve got to put my focus on other areas where I can be sharp, and I can be reasonably sure that I will make progress. Fine points like doing math on the fly and seeing quickly how a bunch of different moving pieces are put together… those are definitely not my strong suit when I’m stressed and exhausted (which was all last week — no, the past three months, actually). I just can’t let that derail me — I need to find where I can make up for those gaps, and concentrate on that — like just plain getting things done in the quiet and comfort of my own home. Like looking at bigger picture pieces of the grand puzzle.Β  And keeping my motivation high and intact.

So I’ll be taking a lot of time this weekend to just settle in and do the work that’s in front of me. It’s not terrible work — I actually enjoy it. There’s just a lot of it, and it’s really disheartening to be so far behind… and have people at work complaining about it, too.

So, off I go. Got lots to do, and I’m feeling pretty good about the idea of having it all done.

Onward.

Clearing the decks

All set and ready to sail

So, yesterday I got thrown a curve ball. Apparently some low-level managers (including my own) are having some conflict issues, and they’re “jumping on it” to “escalate” the situation and address this awful situation.

Basically, the underlying problem is that the people involved (including me) are intensely overworked, with limited resources, and a lot of folks are wearing thin. The overworked people in the other group love to vent, and one of the many things they were venting about was me.

But rather than stopping and asking what the real cause of all of this is, and addressing things at their root level, our managers have decided to “raise the issue” amongst themselves and kick up even more dust.

Stupid. And incredibly distracting. And all this is happening yesterday, while I’m working non-stop trying to get critical things done. I swear, I do NOT have time to hold someone’s hand while they learn the ropes. My temporary direct manager, who is frankly young enough to be my child, considers me to be a friend, but they’ve become increasingly problematic and high-maintenance. And frankly, the newfound power they have inherited because they are friends with the new uber-boss is seriously going to their head.

Sad. I think it’s time I unfriended them on Facebook. I just don’t trust them anymore. And I need to focus on the most critical aspects of my day, rather than populating my experience with distractions and empty entertainment.

To that end — clearing away all the distractions from my life in an extended spring cleaning, I have cleared off the majority of crap from my desk, including a big-ass plant that’s been growing like crazy for the past two years. I cleared a huge space yesterday, and it actually felt really good to do it. Today I will clear the other half of it, and only have the things in my workspace that actually have anything to do with work. That means taking away the art, taking away the pictures, the toys, everything that might distract me from what I am doing. I know people thought I was quitting yesterday, when I removed most things that had any sign of individuality, and it made people nervous. But I have so much to do, and I have so little time to do it in, I just have to make room for that, buckle down, and git ‘er done.

So, I shall.

The thing that burns me about my situation at work is that I can do better than I am. I know I can, and getting reprimanded by amateurs just infuriates me. It’s just too much. I am capable of so doing much better, and I’m surrounded by people far junior to myself, who have more power and influence than I — because the people running the show have less experience than I, as well, so they relate to the newbies… and they don’t know any better — so my whole experience is one of dealing with the incredibly poor decisions of others. And it’s a massive time and energy sink.

So, I’m clearing the decks of everything that is pointless and stupid and inferior to what I want in my life, and I’m focusing on bringing my own experience and activities into line with what I’m truly capable of. Moving things out of the way so people can sit down and work with me…. Removing objects that just take my attention away from my work…. Dispensing with the illusion that there is anything humanizing about my work environment, and stopping trying to improve the circumstances with little band-aids over a gaping wound of stupidity and ignorance….

I’m just tired of pretending that the emperor has any clothes on, and I just want to kick it and do some serious work, already.

Enough frittering. Enough dilly-dallying. Enough lollygagging around, dawdling, and mooning over this and that and whatever. It’s time to shift into all-wheel-drive and cover some terrain. Have laser focus on what I want and what I need to do, and screen out everything else that stands in the way.

That being said, gotta run and get ready for work.

The day is waiting. Onward…

Gotta get moving again

Ouch. The past short week with all the long hours — 5 a.m. till 7 p.m., most days — has been kicking the crap out of me, and I woke up this morning feeling like I’ve been beaten with a stick. It’s all those old sports injuries from my past, including a very sedentary lifestyle in my present. I do manage to get up and move, throughout the course of the day, but lately I’ve had to do work that has me sitting for long periods of time, just hunched over the keyboard, and that just plain sucks.

So, I’ve got to do something about it. I have been going to physical therapy to help with my neck and shoulder, which I injured a few months back and has not quite healed yet. I’ve learning some exercises to do, and I have a printout to follow. Now, I just need to put it where I can find it and remember it. I got it a couple of weeks ago, but it ended up on a pile underneath some other papers — out of sight, out of mind. No matter now often I tried to remember to dig it out and consult it, I kept forgetting.

That being said, I just retrieved it from my pile and it’s sitting here on the desk next to me. That’s an improvement already.

I also did some exercises this morning while I was making my breakfast — not the usual exercises 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 and repeat… that gets boring — but just moving around, loosening up, getting my bones cracking and my blood pumping. I get a little too staid with my exercises, first thing in the morning, and they don’t feel that great, so I back off. And then I end up doing nothing… Unless I’m doing chores around the house and yard, in which case I’m moving a lot, lifting and pushing and pulling and really testing myself.

Feast or famine. And then I end up with a lot of pain and stiffness and I get sedentary… and I end up like I am now — stiff and sore and one bit instance of ouch.

Ah, well. So it goes. At least I know I’m alive, right?

I’ve heard a lot of friends say that this is the year they get their act together, health-wise, and I’m in the same boat. I feel like the last few years were just all about survival — hunkering down and keeping a low profile and just soldiering through. Just staving off disaster, nothing more, nothing less.

This year, it feels like things are loosening up, all the upheaval in Ukraine and Venezuela notwithstanding. All kinds of crap is breaking loose all over the place, but in my little corner of the world, things are actually normalizing. Granted, I have come to detest my job all over again, and I can’t even begin to say how crazy it makes me to work with people who are arrogant, entitled, and utterly incompetent because their bosses have been letting them slide, lo these many years. It’s truly pathetic. There is a cost for coddling slackers. And I’m sick of paying someone else’s bills.

On the bright side, this motivates me all the more to step up and actively manage my own career and make some inroads where I can. I’m just going to keep steady with my own work and my own path, and let everyone else figure it out. Seriously, it’s not my job to win the hearts and minds of everyone around me. They can manage their own damn’ selves. I’ve got work to do, and I’m going to do it.

Now that I’m looking at my printout of exercises, it’s coming back to me… my physical therapist showed me some good stretches to do, and some of these I can do at my desk, as well as in the car while I’m driving. Or I can just step away from my desk for 10 minutes, every couple of hours, and do them. It actually wakes me up a bit, to stretch, and it frees up the blood flow and energy — gets everything “talking to each other” much better. So, it should help me in the course of my daily work.

Despite my bitching, the simple fact remains that people who can do difficult work get paid the big bucks. Those who can take on impossible challenges and deliver, are the ones who are most valued in a large company, and rather than dreading and avoiding challenges like the ones I face each day, I should be welcoming them as a chance to grow and improve. There are a number of things I really dislike about this job — the workforce, the arrogance of management, the overwork and underpay, as well as the travel which destroys my quality of life. But if I can work around those things and focus on the parts of it that I want to really emphasize, then I can make this work for myself.

Having to soldier through all the muck and weeds is incredibly taxing, but that’s just part of living and working. I need to just suck it up and get moving, make the most of the situation where I find myself, and really focus on the gratitude for what I do have.

And take care of my health. I’m going to see my doctor today about my headaches. I suspect they’re just tension headaches, but it could be something else. And they come on when I exercise — I can start out feeling pretty decent (headache at a 2/10). Then I’ll start to exercise, and when my heart rate goes up, my headache kicks in harder — going up to a 6 or a 7 out of 10. It makes it a little difficult to get excited about exercising. I thought it would just go away over time, but it hasn’t. And so I need to check with my doctor.

This coming June, it will be four years since I started at this company. It has been a wild ride. I’m not sure how much longer I should stay, actually. And later this year, when I have revised my resume and goals and objectives, and I am more clear about the new direction I want to go in, I can start looking. Right now, it makes no sense for me to move. I just need to stay focused on what I am doing and stay true to myself.

And not let others hold me down or cloud my judgment. I’m surrounded by people whose judgment doesn’t seem to be that sound. I can’t let that affect me and blur my own vision.

So, yeah. Onward.

 

 

Down to the barest of bones

The fall cleaning has begun. I went through my study this morning and decimated the piles of papers on my side table. Just cleared them away. Much of what was cluttering the place was a bunch of unopened bank statements and duplicate bills from days gone by, along with a lot of “collectibles” from past experiences that I really don’t need to hang onto. Notes I took along the way for different projects I wanted to work on, but never did… etc.

I packed a paper grocery bag with scrap and unneeded papers, I put all the unopened bank statements and bills into a pile, and I had enough space to move some things off an extra table I had in the room to hold everything. Crazy, how much crap builds up, when you just don’t want to deal with it at the time.

But coming back from vacation, it’s time to get back in the swing of things, move all the old crap out of the way, to make room for the new. Make some hard choices about where I will put my attention and energy, and be willing to clear out the things that do not serve me in the least.

I had a job interview on Thursday morning, which was both useful and pointless. It’s for a position with some old friends of mine who know me and my past work. It’s not an exact fit for me, actually, and they are trying to “shoehorn” me into the position, with extra time for training and testing and getting me up to speed. If I go that route, it will probably take me about 6 months to get up to speed with what I need to know, and the more I think about it, the less I like that idea. It’s a fantastic opportunity to learn some new things, but looking at the job market and pay rates, as well as everything else that I have on my plate, I’m not sure it’s even worth the effort. It would be starting from scratch again, and I don’t want to be in that position again.

Hell, I’ve been starting from scratch for the past 8-9 years, trying to get my life back on track – why would I do it all over again? Anxiety and stress and pressure… Nah, it doesn’t make sense for me to do it. So, I’m clearing the deck of that. I’ll give the folks a call on Monday and tell them I’ll pass. If it’s not an exact fit, then I’m not going to go for it.

This is my new approach, these days — to put up or shut up. To put my time and energy and attention into ONLY the things that put me in the direction I’m going. I have no interest in frittering away the hours on this, that, and the other thing. I don’t have the time or the money or the energy to do so. Unfortunately, I’m dealing with a world of scarcity, right now — money is extremely tight, as is time and energy — and I just don’t have the luxury of A) sitting around and shooting the shit about crap I’m unhappy with, or B) listening to other people do that.

One of the things that’s moved me in this direction is being away from about half my team at work for the past three weeks. We have been in different locations, here and there, since mid-September, so I haven’t had an earful of them bitching and complaining about everything for a number of weeks. It’s been a breath of fresh air, actually. None of the drama and upheaval and politicking. Plus, I was on vacation, the week that they were all embroiled in their political gamesmanship.

Divine intervention, as far as I’m concerned. And it’s been a real pleasure to just be able to focus on work without all their personal drama. They seem to have plenty of time and energy for bitching and complaining and finding fault about this, that, and the other thing. Meanwhile, I’m dealing with a constant sense of illness and vertigo, a spouse who is having increasing health issues, parents who are ageing and siblings who are making really bad decisions, and the challenges of vacating a job that is way past its “best if used-by” date. And I’m starting a business.

It’s a lot to handle, and it’s not going to get any easier, so obviously I don’t have a lot of time to sink into frittering away the hours bitching about how things don’t suit my liking.

Put up or shut up, is where I’m at, these days.

And it feels pretty good, my general sense of illness and fogginess and perpetual low-level frustration notwithstanding. Making hard choices, speaking plainly, and not getting dragged down into all manner of crap, is the way to go for me, these days. Seriously, I have way too much going on, to waste my precious hours on things that will not “bear fruit” as some say.

Welcome to the bare-bones life.

The great thing about having a bare-bones life, is that it has room for me to put anything on the bones that I want. I’m stripping away all manner of distraction and pointless “entertainment” — not watching television shows that don’t interest me… not indulging in conversations that don’t help me… not spending a lot of time surfing around the web, chatting about pointless things on Facebook… really investing time in things that matter most to me, and being present with people around me, not distracted by stupid shit that will pass in a matter of hours, anyway.

Looking at all my disparate interests, over the years, I can see clearly how distraction and disruption have really kept me from moving forward in my life. I haven’t made the progress I wanted to make — not because of lack of talent, but because of lack of focus, and too much clutter. All the distractions and interruptions — from within and without — have kept me in a self-perpetuating pattern of having lots of great ideas, but precious little to show for it. And I have dropped a lot of things that I meant to move forward with, but lost interest inΒ  — or got discouraged about.

Well, no more. I am cutting back on massive amounts of distraction, throwing away things that no longer get me where I need to go, and making choices about what I will do with my time and energy and attention.

And it’s pretty incredible, how much more free I feel.

Speaking of making choices, I need to head out to an appointment I’ve got in another hour and a half. I need to shower, change, and get on the road. And take care of a number of things as I go.

Bare bones. Bare bones. Keeping it simple and just moving forward.

Onward.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding that balance

Gotta climb it — but where to start?

So, this is interesting. I had two full days to get a lot done, but that backfired on me. I got almost nothing done that I intended to, including a couple of Very Important Tasks that I need to have completed by next weekend, which will set the stage for how things turn out in the coming months. I had planned to spend a lot of time on them over the weekend, and really dig in. I was really looking forward to it, too. But as it turned out, I ended up spending most of Saturday doing errands for the house and sleeping… and I spent most of the day yesterday helping my spouse get ready for their upcoming business trip, as well as going to see a double-feature movie with some friends last night.

It’s good that I took time for myself, got some rest, and saw friends. I don’t do enough of that, as it is. But the things I needed to do, were things I really needed to do, and they didn’t happen. That’s not good.

A combination of things got me in trouble.

  • First, looking back, I was way too optimistic about how much time I would have over the weekend. Seriously, I needed to rest. A lot. I push myself so hard during my weeks, it’s quite unrealistic of me to think I’ll keep up that pace during the weekend.
  • Second, I gave myself way too much time to do the different things I was planning. I tend to think that having a long stretch of uninterrupted time is going to help me focus in and get the job done. But in fact, having a big block of time overwhelms me, and then I end up doing a million other things — big and small — because I think, “I have enough time to do the important things later. I just need to warm myself up.” The thing about “warming myself up” is that I tend to wear myself out, in the process.
  • Third, I had too long a list of things to do. And the things on the list were too big, to begin with. I didn’t just pick a few pieces of those critical things I needed to get done and focus on them. I put the whole honkin’ beasts on the list. It was like being a near-sighted rock climber who’s looking at a massive wall of rock with no visible foot- or hand-holds. There was no way I was going anywhere.
  • Fourth, I am incredibly nervous about this next stage of my projects, and I just got freaked out… and ran away.
  • Fifth, I isolated. I didn’t communicate with anyone on my project(s). I just kind of disappeared. I just couldn’t deal, so I didn’t.

Looking back, I’m very disappointed with myself. I did some healthy things right this weekend — and to be honest I really felt great. But I also floundered around a bit, and I’m coming out of the whole experience feeling like I’ve failed. Fact of the matter is, I did get good rest over the weekend, and I did take good care of myself in a non-work way. But I didn’t live up to my promise(s) to myself, and that really bothers me.

The problem wasn’t what happened – it was what I expected to happen. It’s what I promised myself — that I could not deliver. I bit off too much, and then just spit it all out and (metaphorically) went fishing. What else could I do? I had set myself up to fail, even before I began.

I think that rather than setting myself up for failure, one weekend after another, I need to have a better plan. I need my Saturdays and Sundays to catch up with myself and my home and my marriage — I need my weekends OFF. That way, I can rest and rejuvenate and get myself back to where I want to be on Monday. There are ample hours in the week to take care of the things I need to do — and the one project-related thing I did right over the weekend, was to reschedule some of my work for the next three days, when I’m flying solo and I have the house to myself and am not distracted by domestic demands.

I also need to be more realistic about what I’ll want to do on my weekends. Yes, I can tell myself I’m going to do this or that, but when push comes to shove, my heart often isn’t in it. By Fridays, I am pretty wiped out, to tell the truth, and my reasoning abilities are starting to lag behind how I am on Mondays. I have a bad habit of loading up on all kinds of planning on Thursdays and Fridays, which blocks out my weekend and fills it up with “must-do’s” as though I have no life at all. It’s a pattern that I need to get out of. And now that I’m aware of it, I can do just that.

So, what’s next?

  • List out the critical things I need to do this coming week, break them down into little pieces, and then take them just One At A Time.
  • If I find myself going beyond my allotted time, I need to stop myself and take a break. I instinctively push myself time and again, because I am getting tired and I don’t realize it. The break that I take can be rest, or it can be doing something else. But I need to break the momentum.
  • I also need to be easy on myself and realize the good that I did for myself this weekend. Life happens. I needed to sleep, and also to be social. I need a well-rounded life, not a constant grind. And that’s what I had this weekend. Not bad, really. Not bad at all.
  • Last — and not least — I need to get out of my head and just get on with things. Too much time on my hands opens my mind to all sorts of distractions, and when I get thinking about things too much, then I end up stuck in my head, which is never good.

And now the week is waiting, along with everything I’m setting out to do.

Onward.

Slow and steady might win the race…

I’m the one on the right, who has to work like the one on the left.

… but it drives me bleepin’ crazy.

I want to run ahead at top speed, but I can’t always do that. Sometimes I need to be slow and methodical. Once I get into that groove, I’m okay. It’s getting into that groove that’s the killer.

I’m nearly done with one part of my project, where I am summarizing details that about 18 people have sent me for one phase of this project. One Phase – God, at this rate, if the other four phases are anywhere as complicated as this, I’m toast. What was I thinking, taking on a project management role, as well as doing R&D? Sucker for punishment, that’s what I am.

At the same time, I have to say that I have a perspective and a passion for this project that has been a real driver behind it. Others don’t quite get the significance and the potential of it, so to keep it moving forward, I’m taking on the coordination work.

Right about now, I’m feeling overwhelmed and beside myself. So, it’s time to take a break and remember the magic. I can finish the remaining three summaries later this afternoon, after a nap and some errands I need to run.

The wild thing about this task — which is taking me 3 days, instead of the one afternoon I had expected — is that I’m realizing just how heavily it’s been weighing on my mind. I’ve been so paranoid about it, so afraid of making a mistake and making the wrong decisions, that I’ve put it off and put it off and put it off… till I almost forgot that it needed to be done. That happens, if I put things off long enough. I actually forget to do them.

This, however, cannot be forgotten. It must be done.

And now that I am in the swing of things and am nearing the end — I have taken care of 15 different summaries, and only 3 are left — I am (finally) starting to feel like I know what’s going on. With me, I can start, continue, and complete complex tasks without ever really understanding what it is I’m doing. I do a pretty good job, too, which is weird. I do it without really getting the big picture or having a 360-degree understanding of what I’m doing — and why. And then after I’m done, then it sinks in. I’ve done things this way for as long as I can remember, because my conscious processing speeds just don’t keep up with everything around me. So, if I wait till I understand everything 100%, nothing gets done.

Nothing.

But now, I’m actually getting the gist of what I’m doing before I’m completely done, and it’s good.

The other thing that’s good, is that getting this done is freeing up my head to focus on other things. I’ve been noticing more and more lately how things I put off, that are in the back of my mind, really take a big chunk out of my processing. I only have so much to think with — I’m definitely limited in that respect. So, I can’t afford to let to-do items just languish on my list.

That’s becoming more and more clear each and every day.

So, that being said, I’m going to make myself some lunch and get on with my errands, so I can come back later today with a cleared mind, and finish this seemingly endless job. The end is in sight… and the light at the end of the tunnel is not an oncoming train πŸ™‚