Being Better

Dear 2016, Thank You.

Dear 2016,

Thank you.

I really do mean it. I know people have been pretty hard on you. To be honest, you have gotten to me at times too, but I have come to realize that you haven’t been all bad. In fact, you were good in a lot of ways.

Thank you for the letter that pushed me so close to the edge that it helped me see that I needed to change, and that I couldn’t do it alone. Thank you for helping me see that my idiosyncrasies mean that I’m normal, not that I’m broken. Thank you for helping me remember to take care of myself and showing me the strength to stand up for my needs.

Thank you for helping me and Hubby grow closer, love more deeply, and be better for each other than ever before. Thank you for helping us both be patient and hopeful.

Thank you for showing me the strength of my friendships and for helping me realize how many good friends (both near and far) I am fortunate to have. Thank you for the friends who said the right thing at the right times, even though they didn’t know all the circumstances. Thank you for the friends who made me laugh when I was down. Thank you for the friends who always listened, and were always brutally honest. Thank you for the friends who chose to confide in me.

Thank you for helping me realize that I really am more extrovert than introvert, even though I’m truly somewhere in between.

Thank you for the opportunity to fly cross country to see a movie with friends, for the spur of the moment decision to do so, and for great friends making the trip entirely worthwhile.

Thank you for challenging work assignments,  opportunities for professional growth, and great coaching.

Thank you for work trips to the east coast which allowed me to visit my brother’s family and reconnect with a cousin that I never really knew. Thank you for my nephews getting to know my face, asking to have Skype calls with me, and being excited to Skype with me even when they’re too tired for anyone else.

Thank you for breaking my mom’s leg. I have hated seeing her pain, but her strength is an inspiration. Thank you for my weekly visits to help care for her, and for the time with family that my visits have helped make happen. Thank you for helping me become my grand-niece’s second favorite aunt, and for toddler hugs and giggles.

Thank you for helping me be comfortable opening up to my sister.

Thank you for kicking me in the right direction to find the next stage of my career; I have high hopes.

Thank you for more opportunities to see my dad; especially after I disappointed and hurt him by missing my uncle’s funeral. Thank you for helping me realize why loss is so exceptionally difficult for me to handle.

Thank you for a two week vacation with hubby, and being able to truly relax and focus on each other for a while.

Thank you for helping me appreciate what I have, and giving me the desire to put this all into words.

2016, you have been a tumultuous, unpredictable, and emotional experience, but I wouldn’t change a thing.

 

That’s Bananas!

I started writing this as a tweet, but as soon as I realized it would be at least five… I decided it was time for a blog post.

I had a weird dream last night…

I was flipping through a book that was sort of a mash up of Randall Munroe’s Thing Explainer, a National Geographic, & an encyclopedia. I came across 42 page article about the benefits of bananas, and mentioned it to Beetle.

He said that it was a very interesting read, and that it essentially said that people who eat bananas are more likely to be successful, and that it gave the example of people who work at [some prestigious place that I can’t remember] who always have a banana with them. He said that they wouldn’t hire people who came to an interview without a banana…

Naturally, I was intrigued…

So then this morning I was at the store to pick up an energy drink (at 4:30 am, because work is weird like that. Also, hooray for my last EARLY day), and this dream came back to me.

A few months ago, went through a period where I was eating bananas every day. It happened to be around the time that I was losing weight, energetic, etc…

So then I remembered the dream. And I bought bananas. Because obviously my brain was trying to tell me something.

Yay bananas!

I love change, until I hate it.

I have a strange love of change in my work place. I get bored quickly doing the same type of work repeatedly. The more things change, the more my job remains interesting. This is generally good for me because my job typically has a lot of variety, it all leads to some sort of change, small (like new reports to help improve process) or large (such as new system implementations).

When going into a project, I have always been the first to admit that change can be difficult, but that I am weird and LOVE change. I think my enthusiasm usually sets others at ease, although sometimes it can also mislead others about the complexity of the undertaking.

A year ago, the company I work for was bought by another company. I spent most of the year working on the systems integration project with a team from both companies, including about a third of 2012 traveling to the new headquarters on the east coast. In November, the companies officially merged and the system changes went into effect. It meant an ERP (SAP) change for half of the organization and a CRM (SalesForce.com) change the other half of the organization, among a bunch of other changes.

Throughout the process I did the same type of work that I’ve done for the past five plus years: a mix of Business Systems Analyst (geek-to-business-translation) work and Project Management.  Unfortunately, my BSA work was all focused on the legacy systems, not the systems that we were consolidating to.

Once the go-live data issues settled down and my focus changed to the new system rather than the old, I became horribly overwhelmed.

At the risk of sounding like a corporate dweeb… I have prided myself for years on being a change agent of some sort and as part of that, hand holding others through change, and always having the answers.

Last week, I realized that I was struggling with the change. It was taking me days to get through something that would have taken just a few hours in our old system, purely because I didn’t know the database structure and didn’t know the system well enough to find the data sources without help. I didn’t want to ask for help, because I never need help. (“Never” was definitely an oversimplification.)

It was a huge blow to my ego to realize that I was struggling with the change. And then in the back of my head I heard the advice that I give everyone else: “How are they going to know that you need help if you don’t say something? You won’t learn if you don’t ask.”

I eventually got my head out of my ass and asked for help. Things are still taking me longer than they used to, but that’s part of learning a new system (another piece of advice that I often give others and ignore when it applies to myself).

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m good at change when I realize that change is happening to me, but when it sneaks up on me or I am not in control in some way I can be really bad at it.

Or perhaps I’ll just blame the SAD, I’m sure that had some influence. (By the way, in case you were curious, the light therapy thing I got is working fantastically.)

Pen and Paper

I use To Do lists at work all the time. I have a list of every project or issue that I’m working on. My work To Do list is a combination of a list of projects that are in progress and actual tasks that I need to do. It can be overwhelming at times, but it helps me remain focused.

Throughout the week I check off tasks that are completed, update my notes on things that are delayed and add new items. Every Monday morning I review the previous week and create a new list. I may have to set things aside to deal with critical issues or new projects, but at least I’m organized when I am ready to pick up from where I left off.

I used to be organized and productive at home too, but when I returned to school in 2005, my approach to home life changed. When I wasn’t working or studying, I did just what was needed to get by; cooking, laundry, etc. I’ve been officially done with school for just over a month and had expected that by now I would have gotten rid of the clutter in my living room and kitchen, set up a little studio space somewhere in my house for when I feel like painting or being crafty, begun work on a painting I abandoned two years ago, and finished two books that I have half read.

Sure, the holidays happened (and for my family the holidays didn’t end until mid-January), but I’ve also been playing games until I’m beyond bored and watching shows on Netflix when I actually feel like being active. Heck, it has even been two weeks since I my last post (It’s a Post a Week challenge, not a Post When Ever You Get Around To It challenge).

It has become apparent to me that I really need to break the bad habits I formed while in school and become more disciplined. Now this isn’t to say that I’ve been ignoring my New Years resolutions, but I know I can do better.

I know. I’m rambling again.

What I’m getting to is that the way I approach things at work is completely different from how I approach them at home. Thinking through all of this helped me to realize that one simple thing can help me gain some momentum: A To Do list.

My approach will be similar to what I do at work. I’m listing my Resolutions (projects), along with the short term tasks that need to happen (Such as cleaning and rearranging/reorganizing the living room), and any other things that are going on that week (such as: games with friends Saturday).

Also, like at work, I’ll be preparing my To Do list in a pen and paper format. I know there are advantages to making a digital To Do list, but I’ve found that making my To Do list with using pen and paper helps me remember my list and helps me avoid the distraction that my computer can offer (look, StumpleUpon! ooh, shiny!).

Of course, it also takes some discipline to actually do what is on my list, but I don’t think that will be much of a problem.

What comes next: anticipation and anxiety

When I went back to school, I had a grand plan: after graduating I would be qualified (by both project management experience and degree) to take the Project Management Professional test. I would study for a couple of months, take the test, and get my certification. After being certified, I’d try to get a project management job at Turbine.

I was in love with Turbine at the time, and still am, but I’ve realized that Turbine isn’t the only place I’d like to work, so I broadened my horizons. I want to work in a role where I can contribute the creation and support of video games (console, PC, mobile, you name it).

Last year I promised myself that I wouldn’t wait for the certification. It is still a goal (for this year even), but it doesn’t have to come before finding a job in the gaming industry.

So here I am, anticipating the thrill of finding a job and company that is a perfect fit for me and anxious about all of the things that a new job might mean for me.

The thought of a new job scares the hell out of me in some ways. I’ve worked for the same company for the past eleven years (That’s more than one-third of my life, yikes!), so it is comfortable; it feels like home. It would also mean a big move for my husband and I. We live in Bellingham (between Seattle and Vancouver, BC). I hope to find something in the Seattle area so that we can move between Bellingham and Seattle so Hubby doesn’t have to leave his job, but it is still a major change for us.

A new job would be exciting tons of reasons that I’ve shared before, but most importantly because if I choose well it will be a place where I can learn, grow, and be challenged. I know I’m odd, but I really like my work, when it is challenging (unfortunately, recently it hasn’t been). I could go on and on, but those are topics for other days.

I wake up every night thinking about it. Would Hubby really be comfortable moving out of state if I were to find something at Turbine or SOE? Will I be confident in interviews (the thought of interviewing terrifies me)? How do I meet people who work at the places that I want to work? What can I do to make my resume’ stand out? Should I call about the application I submitted before Christmas, or wait a while longer? So many questions and random thoughts float through my sleepy head.

It is exciting, and will be a fun adventure (even if there are a few sleepless nights).

What is YOUR dream?

I started writing here in November of last year. Ten months ago. I have made 38 posts. Thirty-eight posts in ten months is less than what I had hoped to do when I started, but now that I have been writing here for a while I am getting more comfortable with a routine of writing.

I continue to write here both as an outlet. I wouldn’t call it a creative outlet, because I don’t feel creative at all in what I’ve written here. It is more of an outlet for my hopefulness and anxieties about the dream job and for the many other thoughts that bounce around in my head at the end of the day (or even during the day; such as when I post about frustrations at work). It is actually helping me sleep better.

I also continue to write here because it is a constant motivator toward the dream. Each post seems to make me more resolute that I will achieve the dream.

Recently, I’ve felt a little self-centered in all of this dreaming. I write about what I want to be when I grow up, or the different fun things that I’m doing to (hopefully) help me get there. I talk about it with friends over drinks. But I don’t ask anyone else what they want.

I am going to change that. I am starting here. (If you just got Man in the Mirror stuck in your head, you’re not alone.)

What is your dream?
What are you doing to work toward it?
Do you have a plan?
What motivates you?

I know it’s weird that some random internet person is asking, but it’s amazing the motivation that can stem from kind comments from someone you barely know and from knowing the dreams of others.

Still looking for that reset button.

Today is already getting better.

Earlier today I tweeted about my day being off to a bad start. It was. I woke up feeling hung over and aching all over (even though last night I only drank water). I had one co-worker upset about a change request I’d sent them after testing an update to one of our internal systems. I’m sure I annoyed the heck out of another with a few emails for little changes on a different project (fortunately, the second co-worker didn’t complain).

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Sometimes I wonder…

Is my goal too focused?
Should I try for it now?
Should I wait until I graduate?
Is it really realistic and attainable?
How do I get in?
How do I prepare?
What if it doesn’t happen?
Why do I doubt myself?
What if there is a different excellent opportunity?
Do I try for it?
Do I take it?
What am I willing to do?
What sacrifice is worth while?
How far would I go?
How far would he be willing to go?
Is the dream impacting my work performance?
In a bad way?
Is the impact to my school work worth while?
Am I overly ambitious?
Can I afford to dream?
Can I afford not to?

Everyone needs a dream

It has been too long since I last posted. I’ve been giving a great deal of thought to the dream, and it is time to share what I’ve concluded.

I am not giving up on the dream. Everyone needs a dream, and everyone should have a dream that is realistic. Dreaming about winning the lottery is great. But seriously, did you ever really think you would win? (more…)

Resolutions

Every year on January first it is tradition to make a New Years Resolution – A promise to yourself that you will change an old habit or create a new habit in the next year. I’ve often wondered if this is just a tradition in the US or if it is shared in other cultures around the world… But, no, that is not the point of this post.

Resolutions!

Normally, I make a well intentioned promise to myself such as “I am going to lose 30 pounds by mid year and keep it off until the end of the year”, “I am going to work out every day”, or “I am going to keep my house spotless”.

Normally, I fail.

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