I generally enjoy my job. My job title is Project Manager but in reality that means problem solver. I like solving problems employing my different thinking and the satisfaction of fixing things. No one would need project managers if everything went to plan.
For a number of reasons, I’ve got a challenging few months ahead doing stuff that needs to be done but which does not intrinsically motivate me. Stuff that I can do but which does not play to my strengths. This make it hard for me to keep positive in my throughts and actions.
I noticed I was starting to feel a little down. Dyslexics can be mentally and emotionally fragile and I’m not immune to that. At work, it always feels like I am on a spiral. Things are either going well and getting better and I am spiralling up in an unstoppable tornado of enthusiasm. Or things are not going so well and I am spiralling down. I know this is just unconscious bias and my emotional state including my judgment. All the same for me things are never just ticking along nicely. I’d probably be bored if there were.
It was not just me that noticed. A few close colleagues noticed and were considerate enough to check in with me. Was everything OK? Did I need help with anything? Having a good support network is essential – having friends and colleagues who are comfortable pointing out comfortable things and offering to help.
I knew my thoughts about the coming months were shaping my experience of them. I knew if I got into that negative spiral it would not just impact work but also home. Perceptions and beliefs shape reality for us.
So I’ve turned it into a bit of a challenge. Rather than just plod along and get done what needs to be done I’ve decided to make things interesting. What can I learn during this time – about the people I’m working with, about the organisation, about myself. It’s not going to be an exceptionally busy time (which itself is frustrating as I get a perverse sense of gratification from being busy) so can I use the quieter moments to sharpen the saw as Stephen R. Covey would say.
How can I make it fun? What can I do to add intrinsic or extrinsic enjoyment to the task? What can I do to mitigate the fact that I’ll find parts of it dull? How can I shape the job to get the most from it?
In hindsight (it’s taken a few months to get around to publishing this blog) I can say my predictions were correct – I did find parts of the job dull. Fortunately, my coping strategies were reasonably successful. Booking some holiday added a bit of time pressure to keep me on my toes. Taking on some additional mini assignments ensured there were no quiet moments.
It was not all plain sailing – but then smooth seas do not make a skilful sailor. One casualty over the past few months was this blog. I got out of the rhythm of writing it about the time my colleagues had the wisdom to check in on me. The drive to share what I know waned as I questioned what I really know. Then I looked at the pages of notes I’ve taken from books I’ve read over the past few months. And the BuJu pages of blog ideas which suddenly didn’t resonate. Suddenly writing a blog post felt like work and I’d been doing that all day. So when all else failed I got out on the bike.
A bike is a beautiful machine. It opens up the wonderful scenery of the local countryside. Cycling offers a chance to think and ponder or clear the mind as I grind up a big hill. It offers exercise which is a benefit in its own right and also is good for mental wellbeing. If nothing else I’ve got stronger legs and a nice tan.