Category Archives: Work/Career

First Week with New Job

My first week at the new consulting job is complete. Wow, it was definitely an adjustment after being on vacation for 5 1/2 months. My sleep and eating patterns were off. I had to be quite patient and slowly ease into the new schedule. I expect next week to be even better as I get into a regular rhythm.

But, I have no regrets working again as it is keeping my current lifestyle stable and I really like that. The work is interesting enough and I’m working fewer hours than with my previous employer. Plus, as an independent consultant, I get a lot more tax deductions.

I have to say though that the freedom I experienced over the last 5 1/2 months has changed my life and my perspective on how things can and could be. I found that my desire to get back to that level of freedom has grown exponentially over the last week.

So, I will be working towards having a lifestyle that is based on that level of freedom. That’s the good thing about contrast. You can definitely pinpoint exactly what you desire.

That’s a good thing.

Michael

First Day on the New Job

If a trainstation is where the train stops, what’s a workstation? – Author Unknown

When people go to work, they shouldn’t have to leave their hearts at home. – Betty Bender

Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else. – James Matthew Barrie

Well, today was the first day of the new consulting gig. It’s definitely an adjustment from being on vacation for 5 1/2 months. 🙂

I’m sure I’ll get used to it. I like the pace so far. Slower than where I used to work, but not so slow that it will be boring. I’ve already met a number of nice people. They are either hiding the bad ones or I won’t be working with them. I suspect it is the latter.

This consulting contract lasts until July, so I have plenty of work until then. There is one major problem with this job. The company I’m working at gives their employees and contractors access to unlimited free donuts, bagels, muffins, coffee, espresso drinks and multiple flavors of ice cream from a national company. Temptation is huge. I made it through the first day without consuming any of them, but boy it will be hard!

Bottom line is that I’m glad to be back at work. It is exactly what I was looking for. Life/work is good.

Michael

Opportunities Abound

We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations. – Charles R. Swindoll

When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us. – Helen Keller

Numerous opportunities for “work” have been coming to me over the last two weeks. Compared to last time when I was in between jobs, this one has been much easier. I know it is because of the internal work I’ve done on myself over the last few years.

Last night I got a call about an opportunity that will start next week or the week after. I accepted it of course as it seemed the right thing to do, the right opportunity to work on. It comes at time that is exactly when I needed to start some consulting work. The opportunity is interesting and could lead to more.

I’ve been on vacation/holiday for five months now. It’s been a wonderful time and a great way to adjust to a life that I want, which was my primary goal for taking so many months off. I only did things I wanted to do. That was my main objective. The past five months has been life changing for me. From this point forward, I’m only doing what I want to do, whether it be a “work” situation or something else. I’ll settle for nothing less.

The other point that was important during my time off was that I never doubted I could find a work opportunity. Of course, I had some moments but they were very short and quickly dispelled with an attitude adjustment. The majority of the time, I stayed in full belief and worked on being happier in every moment I could. I believe that was the biggest difference between the last time I didn’t have job and this time. That previous time was one of fear, anxiety and general dismay.

By keeping my attitude high, I stayed clear, focused and opened for what was coming my way. I believe that little “signs” or opportunities were more easily spotted as my head wasn’t hanging down in despair.

It’s been a fantastic learning experience/experiment. The difference is that I won’t be stopping.

Michael

“Vicious cycle of persistent thoughts”

Kathleen Norris’s book “Acedia & me”contains this fascinating sentence, “The goal of ancient and contemporary methods alike [to attack depression and sadness ] is to break the vicious cycle of persistent thoughts” [p. 151]. She is writing a chapter on the usefulness of meditation to disrupt unhealthy thought patterns.

I have meditated on and off since I was 20. I’m in an off-cycle now, and it’s a shame. It’s like being in a period where you are out of shape. You remember what it felt like to take care of yourself, and you wonder when you will get back to it. The restorative power of meditation is that strong. It takes you out of the patterns your own mind uses to make you feel bad.

Norris notes that persistent thoughts–which are usually negative–likely harm you if they aren’t disrupted. I was great at that today. I just couldn’t stay serious, even when my boss looked stressed and frustrated, and I was worried about her. It is getting easier to remember to find something to laugh or smile at or to think of some worthy goal.

Today that was working for me. No bad thought stuck around too long. One of my friends finished a huge project, which her entire department pulled together to do with precision and excellence. It has been a long road for them, almost two months, and they are relieved it’s over and thrilled that everyone thinks they have done so well. I couldn’t stay worried long. There was too much to celebrate.

A Good Day

More and more often, I’m finding that a good day includes successes in more than one area of my life. Today there are four areas to feel great about.

1. Job. I had to pull together a group of 7 people on very short notice to take a meeting with some people who had traveled half way across the country to meet with our company. Many of my colleagues pushed back their own priorities to accommodate the visit. I was grateful, and the company that traveled to meet us was grateful. There is nothing like a spirit of cooperation to make a group of people feel great.

2. Writing. Michael and I spent the late afternoon and evening working on a writing project that we have underway. Michael is great at organizing us, and he put together a chapter schedule for us a few weeks ago. Tonight we realized that we are a few weeks ahead of schedule. So far so good. Both of us have a sense of progress, and I have the satisfaction of not being a source of frustration over lateness. Another double win. I like getting the project done, and I like living up to Michael’s expectations.

3. Christmas cards. I may write an entire blog post on Christmas card writing. It’s often a two-month-long ordeal for me to get all of my cards written. In fact, it’s been 3 years since I finished an entire set. Last year I didn’t write any, though I did leave the stack of cards I received sitting on the floor of my study for 11 months, in case I was inspired to answer them. The great news is that I finally realized I could answer them by starting early on this year’s cards. So starting November 30, I’ve been writing two cards per night, before bedtime, and mailing them in the morning. Tonight I’ll write two more. At this rate, I will have made a good bite out of them by Christmas. Not only will I feel good about reaching out; I will also feel good about cleaning the pile off my floor for the first time since January.

4. Finances. Thanks to my wife, we had some good financial news today. She works hard and is very clever with money. She is always taking the pressure off us with her hard work. So often, I find myself thinking, my wife makes my life so easy and so pleasant.

Oh, and there was actually a 5th great thing. Last night, an old, dear friend of my found me on Facebook. I had been trying to think for a couple of years how to track her down and catch up with her. Last night, lo and behold, there she was in the Friend Requests. I was thrilled and have already swapped notes back and forth with her.

The good news snowballs. I love that any time, and especially this time of year when the days are short, and we’re starting to gear up for winter.

Exhausted (but in a good way)

I’m at the airport, waiting for a delayed flight home from Chicago. It snowed here, today, very light flurries, and it made me wonder why I always love the first snow of winter with a full, childlike heart and then come to hate it by mid-winter. This year, I will try to love it for its beauty and take the inconvenience as only a temporary nuisance.

I’m exhausted. True to form, I stayed up past midnight last night working on PowerPoint slides for a customer meeting this morning. Then I got up early to finish them before a planning breakfast with colleagues. Less than an hour before we needed to take a taxi to the client’s headquarters, I had a file mishap and lost quite a bit of my work.

We looked at one another in horror, wondered out loud for three minutes what had happened, and then spread out to fix the problem as quickly as we could. It sounds like a small thing, but when we had regrouped and replaced 4 hours of work in 50 minutes, we all felt a little giddy. Effective collaboration has a way of doing that for me. It is just thrilling to be reminded whom you can count on when you hit a major setback.

The meeting went well, we had lunch and completed our meeting debrief, and then everyone scattered, leaving me alone to catch up on email and some projects I owed to people before heading to the airport.

To my surprise and delight, I finished quickly enough that I had time to swim in the hotel pool. If any of you are ever looking for a great place to stay in Chicago, the Intercontinental Hotel on Michigan Avenue has the most beautiful indoor pool I’ve ever seen at a city hotel. The pool itself is tiled with tiny, mosaic squares. The deep end is nearly 15-feet deep, the room in which it sits is decorated like a modern-day roman bath, and the pool itself is 25-yards long, large enough that a workout feels like a workout.

I swam a little more than half a mile and sat in the sauna for a few minutes before dressing and heading to Midway airport. To make matters even better, Midway’s Southwest terminal has Harry Cary’s restaurant where I ate pork chops, steamed broccoli, and a side of pasta with a basil-fragrant tomato sauce. Absolutely delicious.

So I have to say that the day rewarded me for my patience and hopefulness. My work friends were wonderful this morning, bringing me coffee, offering encouragement, and doing everything they could to help. It was an inspiring way to start the day, and the swim was a refreshing way to end it.

I feel blessed.

Good day at work

Yesterday was a great day at work. A team of us had been asked two weeks ago to meet with a potential customer on a project they were interested in doing. We had only a partial understanding of their goals and preferences, and we were somewhat limited by time.

The most satisfying kind of work for me is when a group of people is thrown together with an objective, and we have to use our best judgment and each of our strengths to get to a quick solution. The less time there is to deliberate, the greater the group focus on what seems like it could work. It keeps me from over-thinking, which I often do given the time.

Our group of six people pulled together some ideas and talked out the pros and cons for four days. By yesterday morning we all had agreed on what the presenters would say. The lead presenter and one other team member helped us pull together the message points, and they talked effortlessly through some recommendations.

I’m not certain yet how it will turn out, but seeing the first stage come together better than our expectations was a lot of fun. I always appreciate being reminded that having faith in our colleagues and the expectation of a positive outcome often ensures that we are moving in the right direction.

The entire rest of the evening was wonderful.

You Can't Lose Experience

Experience is an asset of which no worker can be cheated, no matter how selfish or greedy his immediate employer may be. – Napoleon Hill

Experience. It’s one of our most powerful assets. I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of experience as the last day at my current company draws near.

Regardless of the change in career, job or role, your experience can be adapted and used in your new position. Many of us forget this simple statement when applying for a new job. That experience can be broken down into several categories: managing people, running projects, improving process, brainstorming, designing and implementing strategic initiatives, production and etc.

Experience hones our thought processes and enables us to apply our knowledge in non similar situations. We don’t really need to do the exact same thing in order to benefit from our experience.

I talk about this today because many of us tend to forget what we really have to offer (i.e. experience) to others or another company. I also want to remind myself. It really helps to allay fears when going through major job or career transitions.

So, don’t forget about what you’ve done as that can apply to everything that you will do.

Have a great day!

Michael

Getting Organized

Ok, so it’s a favorite topic of mine, dealing with clutter. I took a big step today dealing with my email inbox. First there was a great article on reducing email inbox clutter in the July 2008 print edition of Macworld. That article further referred to this series of posts at the 43folders.com personal productivity website. This series addresses the psychological reasons for keeping too many emails (the writing is hysterical), and then it offers simple solutions.

Some are practical, including a great sample schedule for how to tackle email in a typical work day so that you aren’t becoming a slave to the new email message notification beep. But my favorite comment is when the author says, Wouldn’t it be great to suck a little less?

That could be a motto for me as I strive to be easier on myself. A lot of my friends are like me in wanting to become more superhuman by trying to do everything. Naturally, none of us can do everything. Those who thrive take stock of themselves, their energy, their time and priorities, and they put their effort where it will make the biggest impact.

So applying these simple guidelines today for scanning and deleting email, I cut the volume of stored messages in my inbox by 800 items. The article calls this getting the piano off your foot. Call it that, or call it sucking a little less. Either way it’s liberating.

Loving Friday

It is bad luck to fall out of a thirteenth story window on Friday. – American Proverb

After long, hectic weeks, Fridays are very welcome in my world. I look forward to the morning and my anticipation and excitement only increases as the day wears on. I used to think how sad it was that we look forward to Friday sometimes only because we don’t like our job. Others like Fridays because they have two days off and they don’t like their job.

I decided I don’t want that to be my reason anymore, so I’m exploring ways to make every day a Friday. That way, you get the best of both worlds. It’s your last day of work for the week and you have two days off.

Obviously, this may end up being more of a mental trick but I’ve been thinking that if you love the work you are doing, it will feel more like Friday. In other words, your day will be exhilarating but for different reasons than it is the last day of work for the week.

I’m currently looking for jobs and or opportunities to make a living that give me exactly that freedom and exhilaration I’m talking about it.

“Every day a Friday” I love the concept. More later as the story unfolds.

Michael