Hard Chargers Need Not Apply

 

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It’s Saturday. I’m thinking about work. My body is at home without pants, shoes, or brushed teeth. My brain is back at the office. Because I can’t get my work done. Because my work can’t be done. My inner Dwight Schrute can’t stand it.

My new boss at my new job advised me yesterday that I’m doing great but I’m pushing myself too hard. The daily headaches are a dead giveaway. This is not a job in which it is realistic to go home each day with all my work done. This is a job in which it is realistic to make steady progress forward each day. I’m sabotaging my satisfaction with a job well done because I’m preoccupied with the done part, which doesn’t come daily, so I assume I’ve failed. Leaving at the end of each day feeling like a failure means I hit the door every morning already in crisis mode. I’m stressed out before I even begin because I perceive my workload as late/behind/overdue when it is not. It’s not that kind of work. It’s never really done.

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This is tough for someone with my work ethic. I get shit done. I’m known for it. I’m trying to impose my will and discipline to produce an outcome which doesn’t apply to the circumstance. There is no daily done. And since I’m conditioned to getting it all done, done well, put away, ready to start fresh the next day, I’m demanding the impossible. Not impossible because I can’t do it but because this particular job is about managing long-term progress, not short-term resolution. I’m not going to get finished each day. I’m not going to finish every week. The struggle to get this through my head has been manifesting as head pain. 

work-in-progress-wip

Wide-angle vision. Big picture versus task list. Sometimes it takes two years for the process to resolve. Two years. Successful management of a two-year process is sometimes forward progress, sometimes simply monitoring. I have to reach a comfort level with a project  sitting on a checklist as Pending for weeks, months, maybe two years. This is tough for me; tougher than simply working harder.

My boss said, Relax, you’re rocking it. How does someone feel like a rockstar at the end of the week without a sense of closure? Perhaps by admitting the show will run for many weeks. Perhaps by valuing the middle part as much as the grand finale. The steps in between, especially if the process is a long one; rock those. Nail those. Can I do that? Sounds simple but I’m two weeks in and still struggling to acknowledge I brought guns to a knife fight. Ahem, and that this is not a fight at all. And not a show.

My wellness work this weekend is to adjust my demands upon myself so that I can work with more ease. Flow. Release the pressure. Instead of trying do better at working hard, do hard work better. Get it? I can still be just as attentive and engaged without the attachment to a Completion outcome. Shift from fixation on Done to satisfaction with Progress. Movement. Productivity without a daily finished product. Advance the process. Smooth the path. Ease the way.

Tend instead of tackle.

Be well, my friends.

— Mercy

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