Laying low, letting the dust settle

snow covered buildingsIt’s snowing again. Or rather, still snowing. So, I’m going to work from home today. Take it easy. Focus on my work. Keep things simple.

I’ve spent the last few weeks clearing out a lot of extra clutter from my life. A lot of old projects were hanging around that were going nowhere. If something hasn’t gotten anywhere in 6 months, I need to learn to let it go. A lot of those old projects were years old — some of them older than 10 years.

Time to let it go. Just accept that they’re not going to happen, and they were never going to happen, in the first place, because I was following a “success template” that works for others, not me.

Frankly, a lot of the “recipes” for success that are out there seem completely foreign to me. They’re all about money and power and influence, which is the default First World mode, I suppose. But it’s just not for me. Personally, I’d rather focus on doing good work and being supported in doing that, without having to do all the marketing mental mojo that goes on.

As we’ve seen in the news, lately, online marketing can really be a problem… especially when it’s used to trick people into doing what you want them to do. Leveraging the weaknesses of human nature… deceiving… manipulating… I’ve been in that world, and it doesn’t sit right with me.

Anyway, it’s time to hunker down, watch the snow fall, and get some work done. I have a quiet day to myself, today. I think I missed a late work appointment I had last night — completely spaced out and forgot about it. So, today, I need to make up for that as best I can.

It’s another day. Life goes on.

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Back in the saddle again… and again… and again…

binary code - lines of 0s and 1s
Slowly but surely, my ability to learn to code has returned

That old Aerosmith song is playing in my mind, this morning. I’ve been working on my programming skills, over the past week, and amazingly enough, I’m actually able to make sense of things.

This is a huge change, compared to where I was 10 years ago.Ā  Even 5 years ago, I had real struggles with maintaining my attention long enough on anything to learn it. I would get so tired, cognitively, that I couldn’t continue with my learning. And I’d just drop it. I’d learn a bit, then I’d just wander off and forget I’d even started learning something.

Memory is a weird thing, sometimes. I can be so immersed in something… then I’ll get distracted and go do something else, and I’ll completely forget that I was working on anything else.

This is something I definitely need to work on. Because it happens to me at work, as well as at play. I lose track of projects I’m working on, at my day-job. And then I fall behind, and it’s a problem. I get turned around and end up behind the 8-ball, which is a terrible situation to be in for me.

I want to stay on top of things and keep current. But somehow I always get lost in the shuffle. I get distracted. I get tired. My brain starts to shut down on me, even while I’m on auto-pilot, just getting through my days by rote repetition.

So, since I know about this, I need to do something about this.

That goes for my job situation, as well as my own personal situation. In my current job, I need to keep up with what I’ve got going on, so I can just get it done and move on. I don’t want to be with this company past the end of the year. I just want to get out of there, and I need to make a career change back to doing programming again. I’ve come to realize that dealing with people all day in a capacity as a project/program manager is NOT for me. It’s been a good experience, but it’s not for me. I need a break from people and their messed-up emotions. I really want to work with machines. They’re very clear. And they don’t play head-games with me.

Plus, I can listen to music all day if I’m coding. I can’t do that, if I’m doing the people-thing. I need to work in a space where I can see immediate results of what I do. I’ve missed being a developer, and I realize now — once and for all — that this is what I’m meant to do. Not manage shit. Not run projects and programs. Screw that. I just want to build things. Make things happen. Forget the rest. I know where I belong, and it’s not in the position where I’m at now.

So, I’m using my time and frustration wisely. I’m building stuff in my free time. I’m doing tutorials, watching instruction videos while I ride my exercise bike in the morning, I’m building stuff I’ve been wanting to build, but haven’t yet gotten around to it. I’ve got some great ideas, and now I just need to work my way through them. I have another 5-1/2 months till I plan to move on, so I’ll spend time each month working on the core skills I need, building cool stuff that I can show to others, and eventually get myself to place where I’m as confident of my abilities as I need to be, to move on.

There’s a lot going on with me that’s pretty exciting, and I’m looking forward to getting up and running in earnest. I’ll start putting my work out there, as it develops, and see what comes of it. It’s pretty fascinating, really, so this will be fun.

I could use a little fun, for a change.

And this time, I’m not letting myself get sidetracked by distractions. I’m on a mission.

Onward…

Q3 Goals done – Yes! Bring it on.

hand holding pen, checking off lists on a checklist
Got that covered

I just got notified that my boss approved my Q3 goals. Woot!

That’s done. Now I can just live my life and do what I please, come what may.

I’ve been spending some time really digging into the “corners” of my past year at this job. Next week is my 1-year anniversary, so now’s a good time to do a retrospective and see what all I’ve accomplished… and figure out if that’s what I want to do with myself in the future.

I need to brush up on my resume this weekend, just to have it in good working order, in case I’m let go next week. And yes, I’m very nonchalant about it, because it’s a distinct possibility, and I have NO idea what’s going to become of me.

BUT I am confident of my ability to find another position. I’ve come to realize, through dealing with many other people, that I have skills and abilities that are assets to any organization. After years and years and years of not thinking I’m a “people person” — because I would lose track of conversations, get confused, not feel like I was keeping up, and I was a total blithering idiot — I now realize that I can hold an intelligent conversation with other people, if I just pace myself differently and interact with them more, in the course of our conversation.

I’ve also become a LOT less self-conscious, thanks to working with a neuropsych on a weekly basis. Just having someone there who’s intelligent and experienced and isn’t going to judge me for being weird — because they know what my limitations are, and they understand the nature of them — is a huge help. I practice conversing in those sessions. There are other benefits, of course, but it’s mostly the conversation practice that I need and benefit from.

So, I feel like I’m really well-positioned for whatever happens next at work. I suspect, if anything, they’ll keep me around but slot me into a different role, because the thing I do now has changed a lot, since I started, and it’s sidelined me and not made the best use of my abilities. Whatever. I’m happy to live a life of simulated productivity, just like everyone else. For all their talk about how “slammed” they are, they spend an awful lot of time on Facebook and watching videos šŸ˜‰

So, today is all about doing a retrospective on my last year, as well as working on the handful of things I’ve got going for a handful of people at work. It’s fine. It’s Friday. Everyone is working from home, pretty much. And so am I.

So am I.

The 5th of July

US FlagHappy Belated Independence Day, everyone. I hope you had a good one. And thank you to all the veterans and other public servants who dedicate their lives to making this country what it is today.

The 5th of July is much more significant to me, because — like other things in life — after the fireworks are over, the parades are all done, and the excitement of the celebration is a fading memory, the reality of our situation sets back in again.

And we have to do the daily work of just living in this world.

It’s not glamorous. We don’t get trophies and medals for just showing up, each day, and the mundanity of the everyday can get to be a little much. Plus, today it’s raining. We need the rain. We’re lucky. I can think of a lot of people in this country who would do just about anything for some rain. And I wish I could send it to them. But I can’t. All I can do is give thanks that we’re getting some today.

And also be thankful that it didn’t happen all weekend to trash my days off.

Well, even if it had, that would have been fine, because I laid low all weekend. I was working on my skills. Building on some of my old “muscle memory” for things I used to do on a daily basis. I did a pretty good job, but I also got a little turned around and ended up messing up a bunch of stuff. But that’s good. Trial and error is how I learn. And the worse the mistakes I make, the better I learn.

Plus, these are all things that I’m just doing for myself, by myself. It’s not like I’m getting paid to do them (yet).

Now it’s back to work. I didn’t get any emails from coworkers over the long weekend, which is a miracle. Then again, a lot of folks are laying low and not putting 100% into their jobs, because they don’t know if we’re going to have jobs in a few months. Our collective focus seems to be on the future, not the present, with everyone kind of checked out about our current jobs.

Nobody seems to particularly care. Some people are trying — working overtime — and others are rolling their eyes behind their backs, because they are clearly trying too hard. And some of the “keeners” (those folks who are so “keen” on doing their best) are some of the least appreciated and most dismissed people around. I guess it makes sense that they’d be trying so hard… but then again, nobody knows what the heck is going to become of all of us, eventually, so most of us are just taking a break from our Uber-Alpha Type-A schtick.

So, la la la. What-ever. I’m sure we’ll find out what’s happening to us, eventually. For now, most of us are just puttering on through, waiting for… something… to happen. But some of us are looking well into the future and planning our next moves. I’m doing that. I printed out a list of things I need to study up on and practice, before I make my move. And by the time the fall rolls around (I’m hoping I get to hold out till then), I’ll have that much more skilled accomplishment under my belt. And I can make my move — on my own terms.

Onward.

SO, SO ready for this long weekend

field of sunflowers with blue sky overhead
Summer is shaping up nicely, so far

Happy July everyone. The next week or so should be pretty quiet for me, as we’ve got a long weekend for Independence Day, and a lot of people are going to be out of the office on vacation both today and next week.

And what a relief it is. Things are continuing to be weird at work, as the merger is supposedly on track, and we’ll supposedly be fully integrated into the new company by the end of the summer. I’m giving a lot of thought to what I want to do with myself. I know I have not been 100% happy with my situation for a couple of years now. I miss doing web development, and I miss being with really technical people.

I’ve been working in situations where people are just skating by, for some time, now. And it wears on me. I really need to be around people who are sharp and smart and a lot more daring than they’ve been in my situations over the past number of years.

So, I’m working on my skills, getting up to speed with reading about the latest technologies, just getting conversant with them. This is really important to me, and there’s even a chance I might be able to do some programming again, after having been away from it for so long. It’s been more than five years, since I was able to regularly do programming, and it’s depressing me that I can’t do it. Programming is my “happy place” — I have such a sense of belonging and purpose when I am doing it… and after years of doubting myself and not thinking I could do it ever again, I think I may be wrong about that.

I have really struggled with learning new skills, since I fell in 2004. I could not read for a while, and I could not retain information, and I could not work with other people. I drifted from job to job, hoping I would find a better fit, but I could never keep it together long enough to make a “go” of it. And I couldn’t maintain my focus on my tasks — it made me incredibly anxious and emotional (and explosive), and it also depressed me. That hindered my TBI recovery, and it made things even worse.

So, I had to find a different way, in a different place. So, I got away from doing that work, and I did more project management since 2010. But as much as I enjoy project management, I’m still not able to really do the kind of work I love — building things. Inventing things. Making things that no one has ever seen before.

That’s my happy place. And when my brain is engaged in programming, I feel whole and useful and complete. Time has no reality for me. I’m just “in it”… absorbed… So happy. So content. It used to be like that every single day for me, and even when I was working for people who exasperated and frustrated me and had no clue what they were doing, I still got to code. I still got to make things.

I’d really love to get back to that… to have that sense of satisfaction and fulfillment on a regular basis… to be totally and blissfully absorbed in my work, like I used to be.

rundown house in a field
This is kind of what my programming career seems like to me

I had a dream the other night, that my spouse and I were looking for a place to live. We were back in an old neighborhood we used to live in, and we were shown a house we used to live in. Before, we’d been in cramped quarters, because there was all sorts of leftover furniture and junk from prior residents in many of the rooms and the basement. The house was even more run-down when we looked at it again, but we loved that house. It had a lot of rooms that were full of the same old junk that was there before. The lawn was grown up, the neighbors had taken over the garden plot, and the roof was leaky.

But this time I was looking at the house with a whole new view. It’s like I wasn’t looking at the old house at all — when I looked into the rooms with that familiar junk, I just saw opportunity. Instead of seeing a pile of jumbled furniture, I saw individual pieces that could be pulled out and restored. And I saw how we could clean out those rooms and have a really nice house, in the end. I could actually see the big picture — not just get overwhelmed by the jumbled mess in all those rooms. I could see a clear path to moving forward. And although the neighbors were suspicious of us at first, when they found out we’d lived there before, they were happy to think we might be moving in, so they could have some help with the garden and other upkeep around the property.

That’s kind of how this job search thing is going. OR should I say, “Career reboot”… I’m being smart about this. I’m inspecting the territory. I’m checking it out. I’m doing my research, and I’m focusing my efforts on first of all finding out what skills are in demand, these days… and then what I can learn / re-learn in a relatively short period of time. There is always the chance that I actually cannot get my head around the newest technologies. It could be that those days are over for me. But I have to find out for sure. I can’t just give up.

So, this weekend, I have a chance to “play around” with things a little bit. To just stretch my wings and see what I can do with myself — and what I can’t. I don’t want to run off on some boondoggle where I waste a lot of time and energy on things that really don’t pay off — and end up humiliating myself in the process. But in any case, I do need to get more conversant in the latest technologies, so I can hold an intelligent conversation with my peers.

And so it goes. In the past, I’d say, “I need to get a new job RIGHT NOW!”, update my resume, and then go after whatever came along first. Now, I have the ability to hold back while I do my prep work, and pick and choose what I want to do with myself. So I don’t get in the same sorts of situations I did before.

That would not be good.

I know better know. And I can DO better now.

Onward!

Well, this is nice…

laptop-newI’ve now entered the 21st century with my laptop. I’ve been running Windows XP since I left Windows 3.1 – so that should give you an idea how long it’s been. I have probably been using XP since the late 1990s, and it’sĀ  been getting progressively worse, over time.

First, my old laptop was slow. I mean SLOW. And getting slower. It was partly because the hardware was old, partly because all the new patches and updates to my browsers, software, and different running parts of my system were putting a lot of strain on the system resources. It’s like my computer was having short-term working memory issues – just like me.

And it wasn’t fun.

Eventually, it just got prohibitive. There’s only so much blocking I can handle. Browsers throwing errors all the time, having to wait for updates, everything running slower… slower… slower… And I couldn’t even get a lot of the programs I need to run, these days. These are tools I need to keep my skills up, so I can continue to earn a good living. If I don’t keep my skills up, I am at a big disadvantage. Plus, there are some very cool tools out there, and if I don’t keep up, I’m not only hurting my chances to earn a good living, but I’m also missing out on some pretty cool stuff.

And it’s the cool stuff that keeps me going.

So, I broke down and got myself a new computer — for a fraction of what it normally costs. A new one goes for $1600, but I got mine for $250. And it has a hard drive that’s twice the size of a the top of the line new ones. That’s important, because I do a lot of work with big chunks of data and information, so I need to have enough “overhead” without running out of room.

So, I spent last night setting up my new laptop. I got it all set up with the stuff I need, and I’m adding more as I go. I can now install the apps I couldn’t even come close to, before. Plus, I can get new ones that I never knew about. I now have an email program that pulls in messages from a number of different accounts and lets me keep up on my activity. That’s been a problem for years, because I would need to login to different email addresses, and sometimes I wouldn’t do that for weeks. So, I missed out on important family messages, as well as volunteer opportunities. And I would have to scramble to catch up.

That doesn’t need to happen, anymore.

Plus, I now have a spacebar that doesn’t flake out on me. My old computer had a wonky spacebar that I had to keep punching, to get it to work. I had to press it at exactly the right place, for it to work, and that screwed up my hands, because it was an unnatural position for my thumbs to be in.

Old habits die hard. And when they do, they sometimes screw up your hands.

So, now with my enormous hard drive, and a 21st century operating system, it’s like a whole new day. The sun is rising, and it’s looking to be a gorgeous day. I am keeping my old laptop for traveling, for those times when I just need a way to get online. But this new one… well, it’s pretty sweet. And that makes me incredibly happy.

New day. New ways.

Onward.

Or… I could have fun with it

roller-coasterWhat a roller coaster. One day, we’re up. The next we’re down.

Sigh.

I started out yesterday feeling pretty great. Then came the speed bump.

My employer announced its quarterly numbers about a week ago, and they just missed their projected numbers by a smidge. But they still missed.

So, yesterday we found out that our bonuses will be affected by the shortfall, and there are a lot of unhappy campers walking around. The holidays are coming, and there’s going to be a little less Christmas cheer for some.

The crazy thing is, I’d bet good money that none of the people actually responsible for running the company will have their personal financial situation affected. A lot of them have a ton of money, already, so even if they do share in the bonus payout reduction, they won’t feel even a 10% drop — whereas the rest of us “on the ground” have a very different story to tell.

I think it would be much more fair for the people in charge of the big decisions to take the hit, rather than passing it along to us. It just feels like a sort of punishment. And that on top of the ongoing negotiations about the company being acquired… It’s all very exciting.

And my back and hips are killing me, because the chair they gave me is for sh*t… and I have been sitting too much. I used to have a self-constructed standup desk at my old office.Ā  Four cases of seltzer water with a shelf on top. I think I’ll reconstruct that. I have the room in my new cubicle, and it’s the exact right height for me. We’ll see. I do have a shelf that’s the right height, as well, so maybe I don’t need to reconstruct it.Ā  Bottom line is, I need to be standing, not sitting. Sitting is bringing the pain.

So, my bonus is messed up, I have no idea if I’ll have this job in another 6-8 months, and people around me are getting tweaked… emotionally needy… upset… And it’s just the beginning. The acquisition/merger won’t be done for some months, yet, so we’ve got a ways to go. There are a number of acquisitions and mergers going on in the tech world, right now. Some of them have epic proportions. All these people being moved around and nudged/pushed out of their comfort zones…. It’s like the whole world is in flux.

But at least I’m not in the dire straits that people in the Middle East and Africa are. All those people being displaced… Holy crap, it’s just crazy.

In the midst of it all, I can count my blessings, which is fortunate. And I am actually in a really good space. I have a line of work that I love so much, I do it in my spare time. I just love it, and it really is a natural progression of my skills, abilities, and interests. Compared to where I was, just a year ago, my situation is much more stable — and this, in spite of being on the verge of possible displacement.

The thing that’s more stable is my prospects of employment. I have a killer skillset, with the right kind of experience at the right kinds of companies (home-grown global corporate success stories that everybody in the region knows about and respects). And my skills are portable across a number of different industries, so that bodes well for my ongoing employment. I’m less concerned about working for only one company for the long term. That’s never actually been my ideal. I’m much more concerned about staying viable — especially as I’m getting older in a field where employers favor people who are 20 years younger than myself. And the happy fact is that my skills and abilities are still very much in-demand, and they meet a lot of needs very neatly.

No need to “shoehorn” myself into a position – I’m flexible enough to fit in a lot of places, which has really been my goal all along. While I do love the work I do for a living, and I do it on my own time as well, I still have a lot of other interests that I need to pursue without financial pressure. I have research to do and writing to do. I have blog posts to write. And I need to do that all without having to worry about where my next meal is coming from. That kind of stress is a killer.

So, I’m looking on the bright side and just having fun with things. I had a dark time on Sunday, when all the excitement of the past week caught up with me, and I started to sink into that dismal place where I didn’t feel like going on. At all. Of course, I had to, because I had things I needed to take care of, but I just didn’t feel like it. And that, after feeling so strong and clear for many days…. depressing.

But I took it easy, got some rest, and yesterday looked very different to me. Today looks different, as well. I’m getting back on track, having fun with things, and really digging into my work. I have no idea what they will be doing with me or anyone else on my team, in the future, so I’m just “doing my thing” and doing the work that’s meaningful to me — and also valuable in the market. I’m doing my research via online job boards, to see who’s paying the most — and for what types of work/skills/interests.

I know I’m supposed to follow my bliss, but it’s a lot easier to be blissful, if you have a roof over your head and a belly full of nutritious food and a healthy body… not to mention hope for the future.

I do have all of the above, and I plan to keep it that way. It hasn’t been easy, and if I didn’t work at it, I could easily be in very different straits. But I don’t feel like struggling and hassling with basic survival things, so I’m laser-focused on finding where I can improve… and doing just that. It’s all trial-and-error-and-success. And some days I have huge setbacks.

Today, I can see how all my setbacks can set me up for a better future.

Every piece of info I get about how I screwed up is valuable. It gives me more info about how to move forward in a different way. Story of my life. My mistakes are my own — and they can be the most valuable possessions I have. When I realize that, it frees me up to do more things.

And have fun with it all, as best I can.

Onward.

Covering my tracks

This really is a turning-point time for me.

I’m in the process of cleaning out nearly 50 databases for websites I created over the past 15 years.

This is not a small thing. It’s saying good-bye to a lot of labors of love (well, farewell, really, because I’m getting backups of them all before I delete them).

It’s a little nerve-wracking. But it’s high time I did this. I have been building websites as a way to keep myself occupied and technically sharp, for many years, but I’m at the point now in my work and profession, where the stuff I’ve been doing is really old news.

I really belong out in front. Not following along, using what other people have built for mass consumption, and getting stuck with managing the fruits of their misinformed labors.

I don’t want to be mean-spirited. I’m just kind of sick and tired of mass-consumption “content creation tools” that were not properly designed, to begin with.

I’m kind of “over” mass-consumption anything. Maybe I’m just getting older, losing patience, getting a little slow on the uptake, but it seems to me that I’ve never actually been all that comfortable in the mainstream, flowing along with everyone else.

I need to be true to myself and get back to the frontier — where I belong.

It’s funny. Once upon a time, I was out in front — building websites before most people even had email. Then I got a good job doing that, and I got pigeonholed by the corporate overlords who wanted to keep me in my place. I never quite got used to being in that place, and I moved around a lot in that good job I had — taking on different responsibilities and challenges.

Then I fell. I got hurt. My head wasn’t working properly. I couldn’t see my way forward, and I spun around in circles a lot. A whole lot. In fact, all these websites that I’m taking down are really a symptom of my malaise and frustration and lack of direction, over the past 12 years — and even a few years prior to that.

I’m past it, now. And taking down all these sites and starting fresh — with only the ones I want to keep, moving forward — is a definitive step towards cleaning up my past.

And making way for my future.

Onward.

Finding my zone again

Gotta get there

An odd thing has happened with me, since I had my contract renewed at work. After being relieved and elated that I wasn’t going to have to go searching high and low for another job, the surge in energy left me feeling pretty depleted… and also depressed.

That happens with me — I run a lot of energy — I “run hot” — and then when I run out of steam, my energy ebbs, and my mind gets to thinking that I feel like crap because my life is crap, and everything is wrong and nothing will every be right again. It’s sorta kinda like bipolar stuff on the surface, but fundamentally, it’s about me being tired, my brain getting irritable, and my head jumping to wrong conclusions about how crappy life is in general.

It’s not true. It’s just me being tired. And getting a lot of extra rest solves that issue — which is what I did this past weekend. I rested. And my depression went away.

Anyway, last week I got upset that I’m no longer a technical whiz, that I’m not doing the type of programming I used to do, and that I kept (and keep) getting calls and emails from recruiters about technical jobs that I want to take, but can no longer do.

The money is better in technical positions, that’s for sure. And it’s a simpler way of life that doesn’t involve navigating the choppy waters of human interaction. But I just can’t do it, anymore. My brain doesn’t work like that anymore. I’m out of practice. And even the simplest examples which are given for “dummies” don’t make any sense to me.

Insert giant sad-face here.

The thing that gets me even more than the money and type of work, is that ever since my fall in 2004, I have not had that kind of immersive focus in my work that I used to have. I used to have a “zone” I would go to, when I was deep in coding, when I was deep in the experience and working smoothly and confidently. But that hasn’t been anywhere in sight (except for some occasional times), for over 10 years.

And that’s the loss I feel the most keenly. It’s heart-breaking. I used to love that way of working and feeling, and now it’s gone. Like a pinkie finger that got cut off. I can live and work without it, but I like all my fingers, and it just doesn’t feel the same.

So, rather than wallowing in that unhappiness and marinating in my discontent with something that isn’t likely to change in exactly the way I want it, I did some research. And I came across a book called “Flow” by a psychologist whose name I cannot pronounce. I watched some videos on YouTube and found the book at a local library, and I’ve been digging into it, a little bit at a time.

See, the thing that I miss is not so much the technical work, as it is the experience I used to have while doing the technical work. And after reading “Flow” a little bit, I now realize that what I miss is being in the “zone” — being able to concentrate completely on my work with total confidence and skill.

That’s what made that work magical, not just all the bits and bytes and algorithms.

So, that’s what I’m working on, these days — getting back to a zone state. Finding where I am really confident and skilled — even in the little things like washing dishes or fixing things around the house — and doing those things “in the zone”. Not zoning out, where I’m not present and I’m ignoring everything and everyone around me, but really being caught up in the amazingness of what I’m doing.

Finding that amazing quality to the world I live in, and really relishing the details — no matter how small.

Even the littlest thing, like brushing my teeth or sweeping the floor, can put me in the zone, if I have the right frame of mind. Or bigger things like doing my taxes or completing a project at work… that can give me a sense of Flow, as well.

It’s really the quality of experience I’m interested in. And out of that can then come a sense of mastery, which in turn feeds the desire for mastery in other areas of my life.

But I have to start somewhere, and then build from there.

So, that’s what I’m doing. I know what I’m missing, and I have a good idea how to restore that “zone” sense, that feeling of flow. It’s probably going to be different, of course, because my new work is different from my old. But maybe it will be quite similar.

We shall see.

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.