The start-up meeting is over. It was stressful, but that is the nature of the beast. I’m pleased with how it went and fairly pleased at how I handled the majority of situations. I got a little frazzled at one point as the program was over an hour behind, but did okay and that part of the program was beyond my control. The arrangements with the hotel and the parts of the program for which I was responsible were pretty close to flawless.
Now comes an interesting part of the project. The meeting highlighted certain areas that some of the principle people in the study had not considered. Many issues still need to be resolved. My colleague and I only worked half a day Friday to try to get things tidied up but now comes working through these issues. The trick here is to balance doing this efficiently, doing it correctly and not allowing something to just be slapped together, because that is when problems will occur. 5 months ago
I’ve done well with this dare and the four day weekend for the US Thanksgiving holiday has allowed me to have a clear head and rest prior to the week of the start-up meeting. I’ve spent some time this week creating a handful of standard responses to situations that are likely to arise.
I’d heard of this technique some time ago. I began using it when a certain colleague had a knack of saying things that would push my buttons. My responses, though not inappropriate, often came out as weak and defensive. To counter this, on days that this person and I worked together, I would practice standard responses to these situations while driving to the office. It helped me to respond more effectively and gave me more confidence in dealing with her.
I know the situations that are likely to arise both before and at the start-up meeting. Being both responsible for running the meeting and also the one most knowledgeable about project’s operations makes it tricky. The most challenging situations will be people wanting attention when I need to attend to other things; and people wanting changes made either to the meeting or to the project So, I have been developing responses I can use. I’ve practiced deferring requests for my attention to times that will allow me to give the person my full attention. I also created a range of replies to meet the various types of change requests that will arise: the urgent and important, the non-urgent but important and the ones that seem ill advised. When faced with one of these likely scenarios during a hectic time it is better to take a pause and then use one of these than to “shoot from the lip.” 6 months ago
Things seem to be progressing well on this dare. Monday was a bit of a “white knuckle” day; but generally while the work is tiring, the stress seems manageable. I’ve had several discussions this week with a good friend about the level of emotion we often feel at work for things that really do not deserve it.
What drives such a response? Most times for me, it is having too much to do or being close to the end of a long or undesirable task and having a setback. Rationally, none of this requires such strong feelings but you’re just at a point where you feel desperate for it to go right. Part of this may be an evolutionary response to a challenge or threat. (I shall dare to say that having a budget sent back because of a technical flaw does not require the same level of emotional response as being chased by a pack of wild animals.)
A year or so ago, I created my “self-possessed” goal and have done well with avoiding detrimental outward manifestations of this angst that I think only reduce the overall dignity of the workplace. While I do really well this this, I am often like the proverbial duck on the water; smooth and serene on top but paddling like a madman beneath the surface. While work should be challenging and will have some degree of emotion, both good and bad; it does not need to throw us completely off kilter.
This past week, I really tried to focus on a few things to feel calmer at work:
• Using a “to do” list so the tasks that I need to do don’t just keep spinning around in my head. – This means both creating a list and following it.
• Keeping my list manageable
• When there are set backs acknowledging them and renegotiating the list
• Being less afraid to ask for help
• Watching what I tell myself about events, recognizing that none of these setback or frustrations are truly catastrophic
It is still a work in progress but with two weeks until the kick-off meeting, I am better managing to stay calmer. 6 months ago
We are in the midst of a project start-up at work. As we head into the kick-off meeting in three weeks, the usual last minute frenzy has begun. It is so easy to buy into the craziness of “it all has to be perfect” by the meeting mentality. But the reality is that there were several unanticipated problems and also people knew this was coming three months ago and deadlines were passed with no action. Rather than risk my physical and mental health trying to force everything to be perfect and fretting about the aspects that will not be, I am daring to take a different approach
1. When I feel anxious about a problem, I ask myself if anyone can resolve this
2. If I can change resolve it, I act to do so
3. If it is for another person to resolve, then I let them know and try to calmly convey the sense of urgency
4. If there is no possible resolution prior to the meeting, then I openly acknowledge this – perhaps doing so will allow someone else to find a means that I cannot 6 months ago
This weekend, in an effort to not get into a situation in which I want to leave my job, I dared to send my supervisors a respectful e-mail stating that I would need to set some limits on new work tasks until either some tasks were completed or they delegated them to others. I was uncertain how it would be received but I really wanted to avoid the unhealthy atmosphere that this environment creates. I did this with the support of some of my 43T friends (for whom I am thankful).
The upshot is that I am really glad I did this. Both of my supervisors sent back very supportive replies. I met with one of them today who said that if certain tasks on a new project could not realistically be completed on the current timeline, then we would need to evaluate this and create a new timeline. It not only improved my level of self-respect but also my respect for the both of them. 9 months ago
I passed my certification exam for my job!
I scored a 95% (passing score was 80%)
Most importantly, I only panicked one or two days (and not for months like I would have done in the past.) 13 months ago
I really want a new job, and there is another organization for which I want work. The problem is that my boss is friendly with the manager there. Also, we are doing some business with them, so my asking them for a job may come across as a bit odd.
But, I’ve been honest with my boss. He knows that I am looking and that this organization is an option. So today, just now, I sent my CV to three of the managers there; hoping one will have an open position now or very soon.
I think that this is a dare, because I fear that even though I’ve been honest with him, my boss will not appreciate my doing this (should he find out). Also, I know that if this organization makes me a serious offer, it would change my life, and that is always scary even if it is a change for the good. 13 months ago
I just finished the test for my work that I dared to take and consumed (read” “devoured”) the chocolate bar my wife gave me for afterwards.
Did I obsess? Not as much as I would have earlier in my life. Mostly, I just worked my study plan. There was a period late last week when I became slightly obsessed with the thought that I could not cram all of these government regulations in my brain. The day off last Sunday was very productive. It allowed me to think more clearly about the exam and study better.
Did I pass? I’ll know in 4-6 weeks. But, I know much more now than I did when I started and that is an acceptable outcome. 14 months ago
In both school and my professional life, I’ve tended to obsess when takingexams. A certification exam is being offered in March for people in my line of work. It’s not required (yet) and there is no real reason to get certified (except for perhaps better prospects should I look for another job). Still I’m curious:
1. Can I pass the exam – It’s mostly government regulations
2. Can I pass it without totally obsessing about it.
So my application (and check)have been sent in. I have a basic plan of study but am not saying much about taking the exam to my workmates, so that it does not become the focal point of my life. If I pass, that’s great. If not, it’s no big loss (at least that’s the plan.) 15 months ago
This week, I booked flights for another cycle touring trip. Like the trip last year, it is about 400 miles, all self contained (clothes, tent, sleeping bag, tools) on the bike. My plan is to ride from Vancouver BC to Astoria, OR in mid-June. 15 months ago