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Doing everything that needs to get done

Posted Jan 20 2013 10:38am

Today is my last official day of recuperation from this flu. I am feeling a whole world better than I was, a week ago, and despite the persistent cough and chest congestion, I am feeling up to getting back to my regular life. I may work from home tomorrow, because of this cough, and not wanting to push myself too hard, but I do plan to get back in the saddle and get back to regular life.

This past week has been a real mix of ease and difficulty. It is not easy for me to sit still and do nothing, but I haven’t had the energy to do much of anything – even if I wanted to. I’ve watched a lot of samurai movies, and I’ve slept a great deal, and I’ve done a fair amount of work on one of my little pet projects I’ve been meaning to work on, so that’s something. But my hopes for digging in and getting some headway on some of the new material I’ve been wanting to learn… that hasn’t happened.

Which is just as well. I really needed down-time to just veg and chill and not do much of anything, other than eat and drink and sleep and take care of myself. Up until Thursday, I really wasn’t in any shape to do much of anything, anyway. I did manage to get some errands run, that I’d been needing to do, which is good, but other than that…

Well, at least I’m pretty clear about my work situation — about being really motivated to get the hell out of my present situation, ramp up on my skills, and make a really solid move into a more specialized area than I’m working in now. I need to specialize, not generalize. And I need to get back to doing the kind of work that suits me the best — building things, inventing things — so that I can both do fulfilling work and also command a higher paycheck.

That’s a win-win for me, in a very big way.

One of the most important pieces in all this for me, is the passion element. Imagination. Creativity. The work I am doing now is so profoundly dry, and the biggest challenges to it are around getting people who don’t want to work, to do the work necessary to just get things done. There is more of that ahead of me in my new role in this new organization, too — the plodding, tooth-pulling work of getting people who can’t be bothered, to actually give a damn and do their part. Apparently, I’m really good at motivating people and getting them on-board, so they’re expanding that role… never mind that my greatest joy comes from getting computers to do what I want them to do (and what they are built to do), not wrangling with human beings who can be so adept at avoiding doing what cannot be avoided in the first place.

I need to have some joy in my work. I need to have some pleasure in what I do. So, I’m going to use this opportunity to “slingshot” around this pain in the ass position they are putting me in, and fly higher than I’ve ever flown before. It’s a tall order, I know. But it’s worth it to me. It is so worth it.

Because in whatever work I undertake, I need to have some motivation behind it. I need to have some passion. Because work is… well, work. It’s not always some free and easy walk in the park – it takes commitment and dedication and perseverance, to achieve mastery, and you can’t sustain the energy you need for the long haul, with a lackadaisical attitude and a lax approach. You have to have a steady stream of interest, challenge, delight, discovery… and more… for that payoff, that reward. It’s not just about money, it’s not just about prestige. It’s about being fed a steady stream of interest and improvement and insight, to keep the fires burning, to keep the light lit.

It’s this way with anything and everything that you seek to master — whether it’s a programming language, or a musical instrument, or a chess move, or a series of tasks you’ve been assigned at work, or recovery from a near-catastrophic injury. You’ve gotta have fuel for your fire, in order to do what you need to do. You’ve gotta have a regularly renewed source of strength and inspiration, to keep going, even when things look like they’re at a standstill. You have to find a way to tap that root of strength and perseverance deep down inside you, so you have something to rely on when everything around you seems lost.

This has never been more true for me, than now. The stakes have never been higher with me, and I’ve never had so much to lose – or to gain. Back when I was first learning all this technical stuff, I was intensely motivated because the job I was in, was nothing short of hell. It was just a terrible, terrible situation – and I knew I had to get out. So, I set about learning the things I needed to learn, to get the hell out — and after about a year of really focused attention and work, that’s exactly what I did.

Now, I find myself in a similar situation to before, but this time with more issues — and more baggage, as well. Just a few short years ago, I struggled to read and comprehend much of anything, my distractability was off the charts, and my spoken communication abilities were really suffering. I got overwhelmed and exhausted and ended up living in an endless chain-reaction, rather than deciding on my own direction.

I really got lost. I lost touch with what I wanted to do with myself, I lost touch with the direction I wanted my life to go, and I became so deeply embroiled in the simplest of everyday struggles, that I didn’t have any energy left for taking steps to extract myself from that situation. I didn’t even have the energy for figuring out what I needed to extract myself from.

Things are different now, though. Things are shifting and changing, and thank GOD the jerks up the chain of command have quit… one after another… so their static isn’t constantly messing with my head and sucking the life out of me. The simple fact that I don’t have to deal with that psycho-craziness makes this transition easier to make. And the simple fact, too, that I have been at this job long enough to not look like a “jumper” when I quit, makes it easier to entertain other possibilities.

So, extra stress has been removed, soul-sucking distractions have been removed, and that frees up a lot of energy I need to direct towards constructive activity. I can accept that I am where I am for the time being, and I can just let that be — as I move towards where I want to be. With all the changes going on at work, there’s also less impetus for me to be obsessed with creating ideal outcomes, because the Folks In Charge have pretty much removed that ability from our grasp. Everything sucks at work, right now, and that’s all there is to it. But in a way it’s a relief, because now I don’t feel so compelled to try to make everything All Right. ‘Cause it’s just not gonna be that way – now or anytime soon. The Folks In Charge have pretty well seen to that.

So, I’ve let it go… once and for all. And it feels pretty good. I just show up at work, do what they ask me to, and make the best of things, while I’m designing my escape on the side. They can do what they want. It doesn’t prevent me from doing what I want. And rather than cursing the darkness, the little candle I am lighting and keeping going, will guide my way home.

This actually is a very exciting time. I have a lot of work ahead of me, but I have a lot of energy and motivation. Unlike the past, I have a path forward I know I can take. It won’t be easy, and it’s going to take a lot of work, but I can do this. I can do this. And with one more day of rest and recuperation ahead of me, I think of my future with hope.

And anticipation.



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