Well hello there again. I have been writing and rewriting this post in my head for about a month now. And I wanted to write it here because I need to talk some things out, but I need to talk them out with several people at once. So I’m hoping that by giving in and doing this here today, I can make a decision to stop worrying over all the things I’m going to write about.
Lately I have been thinking again about my future. Mostly career wise, as I have few personal relationships to manage right now and I would really like to get my career side in order before I even try to start trying to add any romantic relationships to the list that is my life. Over the course of my time at My First Real Job, I have grown in ways I never imagined. I had a general plan when I took this job, and nothing I generalized on has happened. I have stepped away from the main course of design as I have found I have greater strengths in things like organization, coordinating and helping people. And really, the main thing I say I want to do these days hasn’t changed much from what I was saying two years ago. Upon graduating from college I knew I didn’t want to do just one thing – I just wanted to help people make stuff. Two years later that has morphed into “I want to help people [and/or companies] do what they do better” – which includes making things, but also includes learning, helping to teach, helping to create new systems, and generally just helping people get their mess together.
So my main question to myself lately is “How do I go about doing this?” What should I be doing now, in my current position that will help me get to that place? What should I be reading or doing or watching or talking about? You’d think with all the resources available to us these days I’d have found at least something to get me started. However, Friday my plans were put on halt as something unexpected happened. And the problem with trying to think ahead and consider all the angles, is that I know I’m being ridiculous in my line of thinking right now. There is no point in jumping ahead and thinking of every possible scenario that could happen if this happens, or that happens, or those things happen. It’s making me long for my school days when all my friends were freaking out about relationships and school work and I just kept thinking “Why? I’ll get it done, and if I don’t, I don’t.” and that was that.
Now I worry if I’m doing well at my job. And if I am, I should be documenting it so that it will eventually help me go to the job I’m supposed to have after this. Because after all, I don’t want to be in one place “forever”. But then, is it traitorous to be thinking of other work while I still have a job? But then, it’s also good to think ahead. And then what if I do get a new job, wouldn’t that be awesome? But then what if I have to move. What if I get there and let them down? What if I get there and I don’t like it? What if I get there and then get stuck there “forever?” Then I should be open to new things, but that leaves too many things. So I should just concentrate on one main goal? Well what is that goal? What if I get into it and it doesn’t work out/I don’t like it and I have to start over again? How long should I give myself to figure that out? How long before I actually need to stop thinking about all this and really make a choice on something?
And don’t even get me started on adding in a romantic relationship into the equation – that would be the biggest monologue ever.
So, as of now – 3:15pm on September 7, 2013 – I am going to stop with this line of thinking. I am going to make a plan to find any form of help I can – preferably in book or blog form, as I can’t afford mentoring – and start something. I am going to figure out what I want out of my career and start working towards that, and not think about where that next step will be located.
After all, it’s a bit hypocritical to not listen to my own advice – everything will work out when and how it’s supposed to work out. Especially since it irks me that other people don’t listen when I give advice. Also, it’s just adding more guilt that I’m worry over all this when there are greater injustices and suffering going on in the world.
So here’s to a new start, or more accurately continuing with the path I’m on and seeing what happens.
I’ve been doing a lot of official write ups already this week and today I was trying to wish a colleague well on their new adventure – without using the word adventure again. So yet again I turned to the thesaurus, but this time the synonyms were not very helpful. But they definitely ring true for a friend of mine who is about to set out on a great adventure herself this Sunday.
So I thought I’d share, since it’s common place to forget the other side to the thrill and excitement when talking of adventures…
1 …excitement, thrill, stimulation; risk, danger, hazard, peril, uncertainty, precariousness.
2 …exploit, escapade, deed, feat, experience.transitive verb1 : to expose to danger or loss : venture2 : to venture upon : tryintransitive verb1 : to proceed despite risk2 : to take the risk
endanger, compromise, gamble (with), hazard, imperil, jeopard, jeopardize, menace, peril, risk, venture
intimidate, threaten; expose; subject; chance,wager
guard, protect, shelter, shield; preserve, resume, save
So try to keep that in mind the next time you embark on an adventure. Just because it’s exciting, doesn’t mean it can’t be terrifying at the same time.
Having a dad who works with computers means I have a lot of habitual practices ingrained over my 20 or so years using a computer. One of these habits is keeping a clean desktop. Not only can it slow down your computer, it just looks messy. I never had much of a problem while working in graphic design, but working in Structural Design over this past year means my desktop can quickly get filled with temporary files. I don’t like to make folders for these files, as I like a quick and easy way to find a file. But this week I was given six dies to complete, which means I also needed to make samples, spotsheets, blankers, counter plate vinyls and convert them in Impact to go on our company’s database. So I finally broke down and took a note from DESIGNLOVEFEST and made an organizational system with my desktop background. And I kept it a PSD file so I can apply it when I [frequently] change my background.
One of the things I read a lot are people’s revelations. They’ve just realized something and have created a well articulated post or article about it. I find that most of these things they’re learning are common sense.
“Most of the pain and unhappiness in my own life – and I would go so far as to say most of the pain and unhappiness in other people’s lives as well – is directly attributable to a pathological inability to tolerate the Not-Okay.”
“We fail to recognize this simple truth: that implicit in the act of living is the possibility of f-cking it up. We sell out on the deepest convictions of our hearts to placate other people; we avoid suffering at all costs, choosing instead to submerge our pain in sex or alcohol or food or video games or socializing or stamp-collecting; we quietly bury our chancier dreams to make room for a life of comfort and ease and predictability; we make decisions we wouldn’t otherwise have made in the name of keeping the peace; we fear failure and so refuse to hazard anything at all.”
It has been a very stressful week this week. Not even in terms of work, but in ways that probably only introverts find stressful. I recently found the book Quiet:The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. I read the introduction and first two chapters on Thursday and have yet to pick it up again, but already it is ringing true.
I’ll probably want to write more on it later, but this post is all about stress relief.
I never had much stress in high school and college. While all my friends were freaking out over the standard drama or about getting assignments finished on time, I simply figured if it was going to happen or get finished – it would. So aside from the yearly freak out I had during my first two years in iARC, it was quite a blessing. Then I graduated, and the real world started. And when I finally found a job, things didn’t go like I wanted them to, and the worrying started again. But lately, despite not knowing what will come of the work I do now, I am actually happy with the work. Our manager was out on training last week, leaving me the official stand-in as question-answer-er and organizer while she was gone. And while Tuesday was a challenge simply because I haven’t had a vacation day since the beginning of April, I found myself telling her later it was all just organizing to me, so I liked it.
And now this week, we are all in training at our plant. Which brings the challenge of other departments not listening when we say we are too busy, because we’re here aren’t we? Why should they send out for what they need when we’re here? And then there are more people than usual in our tiny space; all talking and working and talking louder at the same time. And while I try to be adaptable and work within the chaos, I’m again blaming the lack of vacation down time on my supremely irritated mood this week. We’re learning a new program, which I would normally embrace, but I don’t think the reasoning behind it is more than “Because I said so,” so I’m resistant to learning it. Then one of the teachers is not the best at helping others who don’t already know what he’s doing, so even I fight to keep up when he’s clicking around and talking at the same time. Then any down-time to check and send email at my desk is hindered by the amount of people trying to take up residence in our shared office space.
So this morning, I find myself listening to Attack! Attack! with both headphones in, and deciding to try and be more adaptable and unflappable in the face of so many people and conversations. To try and keep my cool when I am “in charge” and just get things done. Freaking out gets no one anywhere, and it just makes me more annoyed. To put it in the words of the current favorite [overused] phrase – Keep calm, and carry on.
So here I go. Off to more training and trying to keep my cool. Thank heaven I’m taking a vacation day after Monday’s nation-wide vacation day. It’s definitely time for lots of sleep and a trip to Asheville.
Also, it’s my little brother’s 21st birthday today. I can’t believe it. And I have no idea what to get him, especially after his amazingly perfect presents he gave me for this past Christmas and birthday :/ Just one more thing to add to the list.
One of the things I like most about myself is that I try to empathize. To try and understand why people do things, even if it’s not what I would do. It has grown since 2008 when I decided to be more flexible. To “roll with the punches” as it were so that I was less agitated when change happened. I think it’s something more people should try to employ because it really reduces the amount of stress in your life. Because as they say, whether you’re happy or not is really dependent on how you see things.
So with this desire to be empathetic, it’s still hard for me to understand when people don’t learn from their mistakes. I was telling my coworker [and have probably said it before] but it makes me feel like a Vulcan [I'm really big on Vulcan's these days] - “Why are you doing this? It’s just not logical.” Along with this is the fact that very few people listen to my advice. I know I’m not perfect, and I don’t know everything, and I really haven’t experienced much in the grand scheme of things – but that doesn’t mean I don’t know what I’m talking about. And I try not to take it personal when I give advice and someone comes back with the same problem, never having even tried what I suggested. But it’s something I still struggle with.
I read all of these posts, specifically from designers &/or bloggers I follow having break downs. They talk about how they put too much work on their plates – they’re trying to do it all. They keep a good face in public, always smiling and talking like everything’s hunky-dory. But it’s not. And I don’t understand how they do that. I can fake it with the best of them for a little bit, we all do things we don’t really want to do, but to do it for a long period of time? I just don’t understand. In my mind, if there’s something that makes me really uncomfortable or I really don’t like it – I don’t do it/wear it/involve myself in it. So why do so many people continue to subject themselves to situations and thoughts that are bad for them? I’m sure there’s some psychological explanation, but I just feel like if it’s not a medical reason, just don’t do it.
I know it’s so easy to say that when I’m not in situation, no matter how much I can imagine what it’s like. But I also believe that if you want something enough, you do it. You want to be a stressed out workaholic? That’s what you’re going to be. You want to find balance in your life – whether it involves work, school, friends, family or kids – you do it. It’s not easy of course, but you do it. And a lot of times finding this balance of a happy life involves bringing other people into your problems. Which is scary, I know. And it won’t be all sunshine and rainbows everyday either. But do you want to continue trying to do it all yourself and be miserable, or do you want to be happy? Because that’s completely your choice.
Lately, Seth Godin has been my favorite reads. His insight is sometimes what I’ve been thinking or even stating in my day-to-day life, but also inspirational during my current career struggles. Recently he stated:
“You’re not lucky to have this job, they’re lucky to have you. Every day, you invest a little bit of yourself into your work, and one of the biggest choices available to you is where you’ll be making that investment.
That project that you’re working on, or that boss you report to… worth it?
Investing in the wrong place for a week or a month won’t kill you. But spending ten years contributing to something that you don’t care about, or working with someone who doesn’t care about you… you can do better.”
“…The best way to honor someone who has said something smart and useful is to say something back that is smart and useful. The other way to honor them is to go do something with what you learned.
Good listeners get what they deserve–better speakers.”
So maybe you’re having a hard time in your life, and you’re going to someone to vent. Do them a favor – listen to what they say. And I’m not necessarily talking about the small boosting talks we all need now and then – I’m talking about when you’re having a problem and you’re talking [sometimes complaining] about it and the person you’re talking to is trying to help. The best thing you can do to respect that person who’s there for you in your time of need is to at least consider what they’re saying. And you never know, it might be helpful after all.
I’m going a little crazy here this morning as I just found a ton of writing on the very subject of my last post. With this new program at work [Performance Excellence - PE for short] we are talking about ways to make our company better. To be better leaders and team members; to communicate more and in better ways; to just accomplish more and have this whole project be worth it in the end. And I may be going overboard with my thinking and excitement on this whole thing, but regardless of if this is “just a work project” or not, everything I’m thinking on and learning right now can be relevant in my day-to-day life regardless.
Seth Godin has recently written several posts on subjects similar to what I’ve been trying to say for over a year now, so I’ll just start at the beginning…
Your manifesto, your culture
In his post, Godin speaks on having a mission statement, specifically in business. He quotes from an article from Acumen calling for more people to be daring and go against the norm when it comes to the type of work they produce. To do this, it requires people to be a mix up of caring and daring – to go where others won’t and to take chances to challenge the norm, in the end making things better. And like all great things, this isn’t the easiest path to take, but it can also be worth the all the hardships and efforts.
You don’t have to pander
Expanding on the manifesto, Godin also speaks on not just giving your customer what they say they want. In order to survive in the business world, to be the best – the one other’s recommend, we have to be able to tell them what they want. To be brave or brash enough to go beyond just what is required and make the end result better than they imagined themselves. This can require only focusing on certain aspects and limiting your audience, but it will not only make a better product, but will give the creator more satisfaction of a job well done in the end.
Avoiding the custom bully
Along the same lines, we also should stand firm in our specifications of the work we’re doing. This is a big problem I see in my daily work life, and for many freelance designers. It’s easy to be guilted into going above what you’ve stated just because the customer is paying you a large sum of money. But like a coworker of mine said recently “If I give my kids candy everyday, they’re going to expect candy everyday.” In the work place, this leads to other customers wanting the same candy [product] in the same amount of time, with the same results, and the same price every time. And this is just going to drain those doing the work. And as Godin says “They didn’t sign up to ruin your life. They signed up to get the most they could from you and your team, and the limits are the limits.”
But I believe, before all the actual work can take place, you need an effective team and environment in order to accomplish anything. Something we’re also going to have to start doing in times of distress is evaluate the team. Godin states it in terms of not “Is this the best you can do” but as “Is this the best your team can do?.” In my personal environment, I believe if we use individuals to their best of their ability within a team, we could accomplish so much more, and more importantly make people happy in their jobs again. This also requires the belief in the attitude of “It’s not personal, it’s business.” Not so much in the You’ve Got Mail sense, as we still need to be considerate of our coworkers, but especially in my specific environment it will require a lot of people to let go of years-long grudges and move on for the betterment of the team.
And while I’m seeing all this from my personal, work perspective it’s still a valuable lesson to remember in everyday life. Some here feel antagonized with the new polices and meetings we’re having – and I can understand their annoyance – I’ve chosen to take lessons away from it to employ in my day-to-day work, and I hope to continue it should I move onto other opportunities some day. So I find myself in a motivational speaker role lately at work as I try to get others more stubborn than me to see this as well, so much so I’ve turned the web yet again as an outlet. But in the end, my ultimate goal is to help people, so I can only hope I can become braver and more outspoken in order to deliver this same message to others and the years go by.
So to close – check out Seth Godin. He has some awesome writings.