Keeping even more focused

Lots to focus on… tough to keep a single point in mind

What I learned over the weekend is that sometimes, no matter how hard I try, I cannot keep my mind focused on what I know I should be focused on. I was really consumed by concern about my upcoming job change, and I was so worried about backlash and people giving me a hard time — and the possibility that I would not handle it well, that I would lash out, that I would start to yell and get into a fight with someone. There is always that risk, when I am feeling pushed, and I really had to keep myself chill, thinking about how I would handle things and coming up with different options, in case things got nasty.

As it turns out, things did not get nasty. And I am quite certain that my mental preparation helped. But what a time-sink. It was exhausting. I’m still wiped out.

I also didn’t take care of some things I was supposed to do over the weekend. I did not get hardly any exercise at all, aside from some juggling. I slept, but not as much as I wanted to. I have a presentation I am doing to a community group in another week, and I was supposed to have some slides and the outline done by today, so I can review it with one of the organizers.

This did not happen – completely, anyway. I have the outline done, and I have some presentation slides done, and I know what I’m going to say, but I have not practiced – practiced – practiced, as I promised I would, and I have very little time today to get myself together for tonight.

So, I am going to wing it. I’m going to put together what I can, and then check in with this person, and then really dive into things this weekend. My spouse is away for a business trip from Thursday afternoon till Sunday – maybe Monday. And I am taking two days off work on Thursday and Friday. And I have Saturday and Sunday to work. So, that will be fine.

But I’ve had a heck of a time keeping focused on anything other than giving notice at work.

Yesterday went really well, all things considered. And people I work with are being decent about me leaving. So far, anyway. I think that the vast majority of people I work with would do exactly the same thing as I, so they do not begrudge me this. Plus, they know that I have been overworked for years, and it doesn’t surprise them that I’m moving on.

Now I have to stay focused on collecting everything I’ve worked on, over the past months, and organizing it, so that the person(s) who pick up the slack will have what they need to move forward.

I will be also thinking about what will make someone successful in the role I’ve held — much more than any specific skillset (although certain skills do come in handy) is a real passion for learning, a focus on acquiring new skills, and an open mind to try new things and be resilient. The specific skills are maybe 30% of the abilities required. Much more critical is openness to trying new things and a positive attitude.

Without that, the job is hell.

Actually, even with it, the job is hell. But others don’t need to know that up front. They can find out for themselves.

So, there is a lot to do in a very short period of time. I need to keep focused and centered and stay productive in this short (and getting shorter) timeframe. I have made up a little Q&A sheet for people who will be visiting my desk over the coming days, so I don’t have to stop and talk every 10 minutes. All the interruptions are bad enough without this added point of interest.

I also need to be gearing up for transitioning into my new role, which will allow me to sharpen a specific set of skills that make sense for me in the long term. I have decided to put my programming on the professional back burner and just do it for fun on the side, and focus on project management for my professional activities. It brings together things that really challenge me in many, many ways — some challenges seem overwhelming to me at times, and I need to really push myself into the midst of it and work at overcoming those challenges, rather than hiding out and avoiding them.

This will surely be a test for me, and the times that are the most testing are the ones that teach me the most.

I have also realized, over the past months, that for certain skills, I have not really applied myself to sharpening those abilities. I have just relied on situations to teach me how to move forward by trial and error. I need to fix that, and teach myself up front how to do things. I need to get properly trained. And that means studying and reading books and materials that are in ample abundance, but I have just dismissed because A) I thought I didn’t really need them because of my work experience, B) I was having trouble reading, and that threw me off, and C) I get blocked when I am tired, and I have been tired an awful lot, for the past three years.

Now my reading has resolved, to a large part. And I realize that I need to put more effort into concentrating on what I’m doing. Something in me seems to think that I have trouble learning… but I think it’s just because I go about learning in the wrong way. Or I expect things to sink in a lot sooner than they do. Or I think it’s going to be easy, so I don’t apply myself, and then nothing really sticks. I’m thinking about the whole “Perceived mental effort changing tonic arousal” concept, and I’m going to keep a “beginner’s mind” in this new job, so that I don’t get so overconfident that I can’t do a good job.

I don’t have to tell myself I’m stupid — just that things are more difficult than I initially think they are. That will get me to take it seriously and focus.

Focus.

Focus.

All this talk about focus is making me tired. I also need to rest.

Rest.

Rest.

This is a big change for me. I’m a bit nervous about it. But once I get going, I am quite certain I will find my “sea legs” and be just fine. It’s all wide open. Plus, I’m not going to spend all my time driving around, I will have more time to take care of myself and the things that interest me. I’m gonna get my life back.

And that’s worth the extra attention.

Onward.

 

 

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Wiped out, but feeling good

I got an early start today – woke up around 4:30 and could not get back to sleep, so I got up around 5:00 and just got into my day.

Big day. Gave notice. It went surprisingly well. The thing that I had forgotten, is that people at work really do care about me – I’m a member of their tribe, and we all actually matter to each other.

Any kind of anger was directed against the company — and in those cases where people got upset, they went out of their way to make sure I knew the anger wasn’t towards me.

Not a single soul begrudged my choice. They all knew I had to do it, and they all were a little bit jealous. Maybe a lot bit jealous.

So, it’s been a full day. Very emotional. Draining, in fact. All the maneuvering and the careful walking the line between elation that I’m going on to a better situation, and being discrete and polite and professional.

All in all, I think I really did do a decent job of handling myself today.

So, that’s done.

And so am I. I’m wiped out. Totally spent. I also got some acupuncture done this evening after work, and that relaxed me. I think I fell asleep on the table, at one point.

Time for dinner. And then on to bed.

Yes.

This is Good.

Finally got to sleep last night

Getting ready for action

I’m giving notice today.

This weekend has been a tough one. Looking back, I can think of 20 different things I could have done differently to make it easier and more enjoyable for myself, but I did the best I could, under the circumstances. I really should have exercised more… but that’s water under the bridge, and I was so stressed and nervous about how I will handle myself today when I give notice… I could really feel it, with my blood pressure surging, my anxiety at an all-time high, adrenaline pumping through my veins non-stop, and all the thoughts in my head going wild — not a good feeling.

I’ll be very happy when today is over, and I can start transitioning to my next job.

Last night, I started to bed early-ish (10:30) and had every intention of getting to sleep as soon as possible. I was so tired — wiped out — I thought I’d be able to easily fall asleep.

Untrue.

I tossed and turned for another hour… then past that… all the anxiety pumping through me, the sadness, the upset, the frustration, the anger, the resentment, the regret, the loss… all of it. I could not get comfortable AND my head would not shut up.

The same thing happened to me earlier on Sunday, when I tried to take a nap. It just wasn’t happening. So, I just lay there and tried to relax. It was something. But I really needed the sleep instead. Oh, well.

So, last night (or rather, this morning) as the clock ticked farther and farther past midnight, I read my Legends of the Samurai book. That always helps me put things in perspective. Reading about warriors who overcame odds and did an elegant job of it (or who screwed up and were disgraced, but still survived) is a great mental tune-up for me. The stories are so basic, so fundamental, so human. Stories of courage and cunning, betrayal and defeat, uprisings and victory… just the sort of things I need to read about, to put my own mind at ease.

The main thing is finding a way to not feel so alone. When I read about the obstacles those warriors had to overcome, all those hundreds of years ago, it reminds me that I’m not the only one who has to face these sorts of things — and yes, it can be done with intelligence and skill.

I don’t know how today is going to go for me. I’m sure it will be challenging.

If nothing else, it will be an experience.

I just need to stay strong, not let others beat me down and treat me like crap and take out their frustrations on me. I need to stand my ground and just do what needs to be done. And be quit of this multinational corporation that cares about me even less than it cares about its office furniture.

Onward.

Knowing why is half the battle

Take a closer look and get clear on why

It’s been said that people take a job for the company and leave because of management. They join up because of the company reputation and all that being part of that team promises… and then they decide to leave because their boss is a nightmare.

With me, it is kind of the opposite.

Oh, to be sure, I have had my differences with management. But the real reason for my leaving is because of the company itself. The way things are done, the way decisions are made, the way people are hired and fired and promoted and demoted and paid and given (or denied) bonuses… it’s just ridiculous, looking at it from an American standpoint.

The company is based overseas, and the way they do things is fine by their standards. It works for them, within their own cultural framework. But it’s not up to my standards, and I’m not about to change what works for me and my undertakings — and has worked for 25+ years — because the overlords are in love with themselves and want to prove how fabulous they are.

Heaven help us.

Actually, heaven help the people I’m leaving behind.

Because I am out of there soon enough.

And I know why.

It’s not personal, it’s professional.

It’s not because everything is horrific, but because there is something much better for me.

It’s not because I think it will solve other people’s problems (that will never happen)… it’s because this will solve some of my problems and make it easier for me to deal effectively with other people’s problems.

I’m working through all my reasons for moving on, this weekend, so that when I sit down to talk to folks tomorrow, I will be clear and confident. I am doing my training this weekend, then I am going to trust my training tomorrow and just let things flow.

My focus is this: To not get all worked up. To not get all emotional. To not allow them to stonewall or bully me or get me upset, which is something they are pretty good at doing. I have some strategies in my back pocket to use — like making sure that HR is involved in every discussion I have with the uber-boss, who is a bully and has a bad habit of saying one thing to one person and something quite different to someone else, and doing it in a very threatening way.

Come to think of it, I’m going to make sure HR is involved in discussions I have with my immediate manager, as well, because they have a bad habit of saying one thing to one person, and then saying something completely different to someone else. And they love to say things that upset other people, because it gives them a psychological edge.

I’m not going to have any private conversations with anyone who’s proven themselves untrustworthy. That’s a given.

Obviously, I need to give notice in person to my immediate manager, but after that, HR is going to be involved. No behind the scenes operating. No testing my limits. None of that. I’m going to spare us all the conflict and drama around mixed messages and maneuvers, and keep it clean and clear.

As much as possible.

So, for today, clarity is the top priority. Clarity and calm. I’ll be writing things down and thinking about things throughout the day today, always with a mind towards keeping things clear and clean. And making this transition out of my old job to new one as smooth as humanly possible.

I’ve learned a ton of things over the years, all of which I can put to good use tomorrow and for the next two weeks.

Knowing that — and knowing why I’m leaving — and being able to communicate that clearly and calmly … that’s half the battle, right there.

The littlest change is setting me off

Ooops – they did it again. “Upgrading” something that seemed fine to begin with

Okay, now I know I am tweaked and nervous about my upcoming job change. Firefox has just updated their browser style / interface, and I am freaking out on the inside. I try to stay calm and take things as they come, but this is yet another change I was not expecting, and as good and fine as it might be, it’s still pissing me off.

Why does everyone have to change everything… all the time?!

I mean, c’mon people – we don’t always have to have the best and brightest and newest and improved-est thingamajiggie on the face of the planet. Some continuity might be nice. Some of the old stuff still works fine, and we stick with it, regardless of your “Upgrade Now to Get What’s New!” prodding. I still like Windows XP — it just works. I still prefer music on CDs — the sound is better and richer than MP3s. I and many others still love classic Coke… in classic style glass bottles. People actually LIKE having some things stay the same, and from where I’m sitting, Firefox was working just fine, the way it was before.

Okay, so maybe there are additional enhancements that took place behind the scenes that I don’t know about. Maybe this new look is more “modern”, and it makes all the magpie-minded hummingbird-memory-span teenagers of the world take Firefox more seriously, but is that who should really make the decisions about what works and what doesn’t? Heaven help us.

Anyway, enough of my rant. I am stressed, because of the crazy movies I’m playing in my own head about giving notice tomorrow. I am really doing a number on myself, and it’s got to stop. I need my strength for tomorrow — to be calm and centered and confident, and have a plan that will show the way forward in the transition time. I need my strength for the next two weeks — and beyond — so I can navigate this change and do it well.

There are going to be a LOT of people who are extremely put out because I’m leaving, including some who consider me a mentor and an advocate for them. In fact, I AM a mentor and advocate for them, and when I am gone, who will be on their side? A lot of folks are going to be going through a lot of grieving emotions, so I’ve got to stay strong, keep my strength up, keep my head on straight, and steer a direct course through the storms to get through this transition time in a calm and centered manner.

The good/bad part about this, is that there are folks whose future success depends on my performance. And now I am leaving. At a very critical time. But that will never change. Folks are locked into a continuous cycle of perpetual agitation and upgrades and improvements and radical changes that require everyone to be ON … all the time. If I use my current status as a reason to stay, I will never, ever have a chance to move on. Because my situation will never be any different. At all.

I’m not the one who decided to have only one person in charge of any given critical function in the organization. It makes for a lot of personal power, but it’s not very practical. I don’t want to be part of an organization that depends so heavily on the “Army of One” mentality, where one person handles everything in one specific “sector”. It’s actually an organizational issue — there are multiple instances where the company has only one person (manually) doing a job that is critical to the business, but nobody thinks of adding staff. The company is more geared towards individual wishes and whims and consolidating personal power and influence, than collective success.

That’s a recipe for disaster, from where I’m sitting.

So, there’s really nothing I can do to save them from themselves. I’ve never been able to do that — though I’ve tried.  God knows, I’ve tried.

Anyway, eventually I will calm down about the Firefox change. In my experience and observation, it’s still the best browser around.

IE is a horror and has been slammed by many security experts, including the Department of Homeland Security. There are so many things wrong with Internet Explorer, I don’t have room to list them all here.

Chrome is all very sexy and whatnot, but it eats up so much memory on the system. Every time you open a new tab, it adds a process to what the computer is doing behind the scenes, rapidly eating up memory. It’s a system resources hog. And all the “intuitive” Chrome features are … well… not. Plus, it can be hard to customize. It’s fine, if you’re a web developer — it has a lot of features you need when you’re building websites and apps, especially mobile apps. It’s great for that. Then again, Safari is even better, so I’m not sure why Chrome is so beloved — perhaps for the same reasons GoDaddy is beloved. Awful product with real limitations, but the sheer force of numbers of people who don’t know anything better, who are suckers for a good marketing campaign, and who just do what everyone else is doing has made them into pet favorites.

That’s fine. It’s actually always been that way. The mob has typically ruled, and decisions in the market-driven world are dictated by sheer mob numbers. I’ve never been an integral, integrated part of the mainstream world, I’ve never listened to the mob, and I’ve always been on the outside a bit, so there are a lot of things that I’ve disagreed with over the course of the past 48+ years.

And I’ve always had difficulty with change, which is ironic, because very little has ever staid steady in my life. I’ve changed schools and classmates many times, I’ve moved around a lot, I’ve had a bunch of different jobs (close to 20 employers, total, over the past 25 years), and people and situations have come and gone from my life like a cosmic revolving door. I’ve also had to adjust to a bunch of TBIs in my life, and there’s no change like a brain change to make your life more interesting.

So, one would think I have gotten the hang of it by now.

At least, I would.

And in fact, maybe I do have the hang of it, but I’m just in this old, outdated mindset that tells me I still have a problem with change. Yes, I am sad to see things change. Yes, I am sad to be leaving a lot of people whom I’ve worked with very closely and very productively over the past four years. Yes, I’m concerned about what this might mean for my future prospects, and I’m concerned about backlash at work and possible retribution by people who are upset.

But that doesn’t mean I’m going to do a bad job handling this change. Being uncomfortable and nervous doesn’t mean that I’m not capable of making the switch. No matter how good the circumstances, there would never ever be a good time for me to go, or conditions where everyone around me would be fine with me leaving — unless, of course, I was doing a truly shitty job. And I would never willingly let that happen.

So actually, now that I think about it, the fact that this is so hard, is a sign that I’m doing something right. It means that I am a top performer, and I am a valued and trusted member of the team (at least, I’m trusted for now). It doesn’t mean that I’m doing something wrong — on the contrary, it means that I’m doing something right. And in fact, it’s time for me to do something right for myself, not only for the company.

I really have sacrificed a great deal for this company over the years. In the start, it was worth it to me, because there were benefits and payoffs, and I had very little to do with people on the other side of the world who had their own ideas about how things should be done. But over the past year and a half, things have gone rapidly downhill, and things seem pretty much unredeemable to me. If they were redeemable, I’d hang in there.

But now I have an opportunity to go somewhere else. Somewhere better — in significant ways. I know there will be some things that will be the same, or worse, but at least I’ll be doing it only 20 minutes from home, with ample time in the mornings and evenings to catch up with myself. So, whatever foolishness happens at work — and there usually is a lot of foolishness, since people work there — having the extra time to rest and relax and have some time to do other things for myself, will go a long way towards buffering all that.

I’m still feeling conflicted about leaving, as you can tell… talking myself through what I already know to be true. I just need to settle my mind, and calm myself down. Do some measured deep breathing… and trust my own judgment. Not get set off by all manner of distractions, settle into a “trusting mindset” like pro athletes and top performers do, when they are facing an extreme challenge, and rely on my inner resources to guide me through.

Overthinking this is not helping. It’s tweaking me even more than need be. Things are probably going to be pretty challenging for the next couple of weeks, so I’ll just have to settle in and do my best under the circumstances, not drive myself crazy trying to solve everyone else’s problems, and make what recommendations I can, to move things forward after I am long gone.

Once I start this process moving, and things are rolling right along, I’m sure I’ll hit my stride. As is often the case, the anticipation is even worse than the real thing. So who can say what will happen?

Just gotta stay positive, focus on what IS, instead of what movie is playing inside people’s heads. And be smart. Use my noggin.

Calm down. The new Firefox isn’t so bad, after all.

Onward.