Friday, August 16, 2013

What I'm learning

2013 is already 2/3 over. Can you believe that? This year has been a huge one for me in terms of transitions. I left a job that, in the short year that I was there, almost turned me into something completely unrecognizable. I started a business - well, two, actually. We moved from our little condo into a little house with our new little dog. I've formed closer bonds with new people, and learned quite a few new skills. And we've had quite a few ups and downs - career and job struggles, the frustrations of moving, planning a family in our future, and learning new ways of coping with stress. In short, it's been a real year for growth. Here are a few things I've learned:

1) Trying to please everybody is a wasted effort. I've always shied away from confrontation, because I just generally want to be liked. I've always been a bit of an introvert, too, figuring that people won't talk about me as much if I don't give them material to work with. But the fact is, people are going to talk, and they'll always find something to criticize. It's been an unexpected blow to me to find that, despite all my efforts to be Ms. Perfect, not everyone thinks I'm great! And that people tell other people that I'm not great! And they don't say everything about me to my own face! I'm not sure if it was my giant ego or just being wrapped up in my own little world, but this shocked me, and made me realize that I may as well do and say what I want after all rather than trying to be some convoluted contortion of what other people think is OK.

2) Just ask. The worst thing that can happen is that someone will say no. If they act grumpy while they do it, it's their problem, not yours.

3) It's not as bad as you think it is. You lose a client. Someone gets pissed off at you. You'll find another client. There are a bunch of people who are not pissed off at you. Get over it, move on.

4) It is possible to function on less sleep than you think. No, seriously. Some of my best work in the last 4 months has been done on 2 hours or less. That said, you also need to catch up on sleep once the busy time has passed.

5) You don't have to be busy all the time. This was so hard to figure out when I first left my job in March. I had days where I was spinning my wheels, and it sent me into a big panic. I kept wondering what I was doing wrong. The answer: nothing. I just wasn't used to having down time or having nothing to worry about, so my body was automatically sending those "panic" signals through because that's just what it was used to doing. I can't even imagine what it would've been like if I stayed at that job for more than a year, and how hard it would've been to come down off of that cliff.

6) Your work will expand to fill the time you have. This lesson is really hard for me. Give me two assignments that are completely identical in terms of scope and skill. Put a deadline on the first one and give me unlimited time to complete the second one. The first one will get done in a snap. The second one? I will work on it until I'm dead, and I'll do nothing else productive while it's pending. I will look at it, write a sentence, go check Facebook, make a burrito, come back and write another sentence, check Facebook again, play with Scout, rinse, and repeat. Then I'll complain the whole time about how long this stupid assignment took me to finish!

7) There are people who will never take ownership in anything. These are the people you work with who leave their assignments unfinished for you to pick up after. These are the people who do not hold themselves accountable and do not care that their sloppiness screws you over. These are people who shove their work off on you while they get to go home each day at 5:30 while you stay until 8 and 9pm. They think it's okay that they forget to do things, because it comes down on your head instead of theirs, and that's fine with them. They will never do more than what you ask them to do, they will never take responsibility for organizing a project, and they will often do less than what you ask them to do. At some point, you have to stop putting up with them. These people are not grown-ups, they are over-grown kids, and it's not up to you to pick up after them. It's OK to let them fail and to let them take the blame for failing.

Anyone else have any lessons from 2013 to share in the comments?

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