MBA One Year Later – Think or Do

Here I am one year later.  I had thought that completing the MBA was my ticket to an immediate change in employment.  I had thought that I would immediately be more respected. I had thought I would finally get noticed for all those things I can do.  

See, here is the fault.  I thought but I did nothing differently.  I thought and so nothing happened.  

Think or do.  Which of these things gets us further on our paths to content and calm?    I contend neither will get us there alone.  It is the combination of thought and action that move us.  
So here I am one year later.  I don’t have a different job.  Fault?  That is squarely on me.  I have not taken the steps needed and I know it.  

Do I have more respect? Up until recently I would say no.  Recently I have gotten more respect which I believe is a direct result of my own actions.  Acting in a way that demands respect and shows me as respect worthy was the key. 

Do I get noticed for my work and abilities?  That too is starting to change because I have acted in such a way to showcase my abilities.  Humility is good but never accepting praise or credit is a roadblock we should never create. Lesson learned I hope.

One year later and I am starting to see how my thoughts and actions working together can bring some contentment. 

After all, thinking about what could be or what has not happened breeds discontent and a feeling of powerlessness.  And that, the discontent, is so far from the calm I seek. 


Looking Back…

I was just looking back at a couple of drafts I had started for posts over the past few months.  It is interesting to reflect on my thoughts caught in limbo.   I feel, sometimes, that this is the story of my life.  I am caught in limbo.  There are many things I would like to do and even feel that I should do that would be much better for me than what I am doing.  The problem is those things never become reality.

Everything around me screams for attention and I do try.  I try to split out my moments to handle it all.  And in that splitting, I am finding myself splitting myself off further from the me I really want to be.  It is crazy, looking back, I am seeking calm and I have tools and knowledge that could move me there but I am not using them.

I am surrounded by things, by tasks and responsibilities.  I am burdened down most days by just getting through the day and I let it overtake me and bleed me dry.  I let myself give everything for everyone and looking back, I take very little for myself.  The fleeting moments that I carve out for me are riddled with guilt.

Where did this need to be everything and do everything for everyone come from?  How did I accumulate so much to do, to take care of, to be responsible for and to manage?  Looking back, I let it happen and maybe at times I encouraged it.  Why would anyone encourage this descent into madness that is “too busy for me?”

Looking back, I remember a sense that I didn’t have a real chance to be a kid.  I was a little adult at 2 years old.  I was living with my grandmother, my uncles and my father.  I was expected to be well mannered and quiet and reasonable.  I was not encouraged to play or to dream.

Looking back, as I grew, I was encouraged to be responsible to get good grades, to make people proud, to take care of younger siblings, to help an older sister adjust to a new house when the mother that kept her died and she was forced into a life with my father, myself and a new stepmother and the list goes on.  Please understand that I do not blame my father for this as he did the best he could with what he had.  I can understand that as I look back. But looking back, when I had the opportunity to be me and to do what I needed for me, I chose to move to another life that was more of the same.

Looking back, I do not ever remember really enjoying playing with other kids.  I do not remember ever feeling connected to small children and I babysat very rarely outside of my own siblings.  Looking back I was a bit of a loner.

I was a loner struggling to make sense of life but given nothing or no one to actually explore that need to understand.  And so I did the only thing I knew.  I kept being responsible and taking on more.   The more I took on, the more I felt I mattered and I was doing the right thing.

But here I sit and I see now that all of that taking it on and being responsible has created the craziness that is my life.  Yes, I remember a few fleeting moments of joy and calm in my life.  They are spread out very far apart and the only feelings I have about them is a sense of longing for those few days and a feeling of guilt for the longing.

Looking back I have spent far too much time feeling guilty for wanting anything for myself.  It is time to move  forward and start carving out more moments for me.  Will this mean that I must step back from some things?  Yes.

Honestly, this post is really a look back to some time ago.  I started working my basket at my job and it has been immensely satisfying and successful.  Of course, some of the people who have been accustomed to me doing and being everything are making a hard transition to the new me.  It has been a learning experience for them and I find as time goes on, I am feeling more and more calm about who I am at work.

Now is the time to start applying what is working at my job to the rest of my life.  Because I cannot see myself doing what I am doing, where I am doing it, for the rest of my life, it is time to define who I want to be in the bigger picture.  I have been defining myself by my job and how that helps me to be the responsible dutiful person in my personal life.  I think that calm I seek is only going to come to me when I can start thinking of me in the bigger picture.

That brings me to today.  I am limbo because I know what has worked to some success at my job but I am terrified to start trying to make it personal.  I am split between the have to and the want to in my personal life.  Maybe today is the time to quit looking back and start taking those small steps in my personal life.

My Basket Applied at Work

Following my thoughts on the basket, I had to share a real life example of my basket in action.  As I was contemplating what a fellow co-worker e-mailed me about feeling under-appreciated because of not getting a reply to something he submitted to the boss, I thought about my new approach to dealing with those things that used to really rattle me and I replied (edited for privacy):

If you feel strongly about needing a pat on the back or confirmation or feedback you should speak up.  I do know how you feel as I used to get really annoyed by similar things.  Just remember you should be the one that you are trying to please.

If you know at the end of the day that you gave it your best and you accomplished things that is really what matters.  If you know at the end of the day that you slacked off or could have handled things differently then you take a moment to figure it out (don’t dwell) and make a plan to do it different the next day/time.  That’s the way I handle it now.

I have too much to do and too little time lately and I had to figure out what I was doing that was wasting my time and cut some things out of my routine.  One of those things was worrying what people say so much.  I do my best and I stick up for my people.  I do my best to delegate and let it go where I can.  I do my best to hold people accountable and don’t rescue them anymore.

I also don’t take on things that aren’t mine to do unless I see them fitting into my own personal development plan.  When I do get wrangled into things that wouldn’t normally be credited to me (by those more powerful than me) I make sure that I shout if from the rooftops and that the credit is documented where appropriate.  After all, there’s always room to learn something new.

My attempt at some measure of content (calm) boils down to:  Things that are not in my basket aren’t mine to worry about until someone more powerful than me (my boss or his boss) puts them in my basket and if I’m taking care of my basket properly I have no reason not to hold my head up.

My Basket

I’ve been largely absent from almost every source of social interaction for the last six weeks.  (With the exception of a short visit to one site that led to my last post.)  I found that I needed this time because I was overwhelmed trying to figure out what to do next after getting that MBA, where to concentrate my efforts and how I can move on from one season to another without losing my mind.  In a sense, I needed to make sure I was not heading further away from the calm I seek.

I took a time out and went basket shopping.  Well, in a sense.

You see,  I have pulled back and entered isolation to take a good look at my basket and make sure I am carrying the right basket.  My basket is what matters to me.   It contains all the things I am responsible for, what I should care about and what I can realistically control.

After much speculation, I think that we are only supposed to really “worry” about those things that belong in our basket.  I am not saying we cannot empathize with causes or people.   What I am saying is the things that should rattle us or in any way exude any pressure on our state of calm in the world are those things that we control.

So, in order to know if I had the right basket and that it contained the right things,  I had to figure out what I was really responsible for.   Some would argue that is very easy.  I would disagree.

I believe that we live in a society today that has been overwhelmed with knowing so much about so many things and so many people that it is literally a chore for some to figure out what their basket is all about.  I took this time out to identify my own.

What I have learned is what I can control, what I cannot control and what I try to control.   I found out that the things that threaten my state of calm the most are those things that I cannot control but try to control.   When I start to look in other baskets and try on some of the things stored in those baskets, I start feeling stressed and my mind begins to race more than usual.

So, what can I control?  Well, that is a story for another day.  I found my basket and now I need to learn to carry it and quit worrying about what everyone else has in their baskets.




Facebook Folly – The Anti Calm

I don’t spend a lot of time on Facebook.  I have found that the more time I spend on the site, the less calm I am.  In fact, I get downright riled up.

For instance, everyone has an opinion and because it is virtual and not face to face, many people are compelled to state those opinions that they would not dare state in person.    Or, if they haven’t got the venue to state the opinions in person, they also don’t have the ambition to justify the opinions they have with any semblance of intelligent reasoning.

Worse yet, are the endless streams of causes that are constantly parading by on the “news feed” at any given time.  Most of these causes are for people I have never met, nor have my “friends” met.  For some reason though, my “friends” feel compelled to ask me to give and share.   Just to clarify, I am a charitable person.  I give generously of my money and my time when I believe in the cause and have a connection of sorts.  I do not, however, ask my friends to give to unknown persons and causes.  And I never attempt to guilt them into a false sense of belonging to earn their support. 

Just once, I would like to see a Friend Request that says this:  Dear Friend, if you are nice enough to friend me, you should know that  I will forward and share multitudes of opinionated links and stories that I know very little about, I will forward this propaganda even to those who wish I would not many times each day.    I will jump on any and all bandwagons to join the popular threads on the News Feed today.   I will guilt you into joining the popular causes and giving to unknown charities to fit in.  I will air my emotional state, illnesses and sports fantasies to the masses.  I will shamelessly invite every person on my “friends” list to join the games I play and beg for help to level up.  I will expect you to like everything I post and make witty comments to prove you are my friend.  I will expect you to share my wisdom with all of your friends as well.

Just once this would be nice to see.  A little realism in the face of the folly that is Facebook.


And Now What….

During my time off to just “be” and not think about the “what next” I found it next to impossible not to think about the “what next” at least a time or two each day. What I did find surprising was how often I was able to NOT think about “what next” during that time. I truly did have a few moments of being content with not planning.

Of course, in the back of mind, I knew that this was a temporary respite from planning and I would eventually get back to having a plan and planning everything. I do believe, having that thought in there was the sanity saver during my forced time of stepping away from planning. Does that mean I will never truly stop having a plan somewhere in my mind even if it isn’t front and center? Will I be okay with this? Can a planner still find calm?

It is amazing how quickly I can take the leap down the black hole of what if. Of course, as I spiral down the hole, the calm is out there but it gets smaller and smaller as it fades to the background. The search for calm seems almost contradictory at times. I want to find calm, feel that power of just being but in the wanting is the natural tendency to evaluate and plan the path there.

And so, I had some moments of being content with not actively planning. The trick is to figure out how I managed to do this without jumping into the black hole of over analyzing. Where to start?

My What Next is Creeping Up

I decided on August 18th to take a month off after finishing my MBA. Before I even finished, there were people asking “what next” and it was very tiring. As I contemplated earlier, why does there have to be a “what next?”

I know, for me, there will be a “what next” since I am never content to stop learning and stretching myself. Right now, it is not about the search for a new job or more money. For me, it is about finding something new, something “next” after years at the same company, doing the same thing and getting the same lack of recognition for the contributions I think I am making.

So, “what next?” I decided to take a month off and I meant it. I would not commit to ANYTHING for a month. No commitment to job search, no commitment to planning and certainly no more school. I just simply wanted to bask in the feeling of accomplishment.

As the month wears down, the “what next” is creeping up. I’m curious to see what this week brings. I feel my consciousness awakening and thinking about what the next stretch will be. Tuesday will be the day to enter the next phase. I am starting to feel a sense of excitement and a sense of dread.

I understand the excitement for an ADHD brain that must always be on and doing. I understand the excitement for someone who has spent a lifetime learning and looking for more. The dread is a interesting.

I believe the dread comes from that place inside of me that keeps wondering what the “calm” is all about. I believe in some small tiny way my mind is trying to figure out how “calm” and “next” will work together. I believe I dread a return to hectic and I dread the loss of what little progress I have made toward the calm.

There is power in calm.

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