I started writing the blog post below Wednesday, June 30, 2021, and posted it 11 days later. I was struggling at the time.
The past few days have been difficult for me. I felt a sense of depression coming on. I started back at work from a pretty long vacation, and coming back to work after vacation often helps me see things in a different light. This time, however, I came back and I felt de-motivated. I have these processes and reports I’m responsible for at work, and for almost the past year, I’ve constantly tweaked and tried to improve the report. I’ve tried to be more efficient. Faster. More effective. I keep thinking, “if I just get this right” or “if I just figure out this one thing”. But even when I do, something else pops up and then I start this whole painful and seemingly unrewarding process all over again.
Whew! Not much has changed here. I don’t want to use the term “depressed,” but I still feel “deflated.” I’m still tweaking this report (and others), and it is a real uphill battle. Since June, I have met individually with the report’s stakeholders and got some helpful feedback. It turns out that what I was doing when I first started was what they found most beneficial. Over time, I made enhancements that forced me to work more but didn’t add value for them. I don’t want to say I wasted my time, but…
I started this blog because I like project management and I was aware of my naïveté around using PM to solve all of my problems, but I thought I’d try anyway. But sometimes my focus on optimization – and really, perfectionism – gets to be a lot to handle. I get in a funk and I don’t feel like doing anything. I’m afraid to try new things. I just want to start over.
I feel compassion for the guy who wrote this. Unfortunately, his drive for optimization caused him to second-guess everything he did. That amount of mental turmoil can drain the life out of you.
I did this today. I was working on a report and thought starting over would be easier. So I deleted the whole thing. This is “classic Bruce”. I’m afraid of changing course so I drop the course and start a new one. Sometimes I can’t see where the course is leading and when I can’t control the path I get nervous. Funny thing is, I had no idea that paths I was on would lead me here. Even with all of my might, trying to control outcomes, I still got to where I am today without knowing this is where I would end up.
Reading your writing after some time has passed is interesting. I remember how I felt. I remember being so frustrated with this project. Again, I feel compassion, but I am proud that I came to an interesting realization. There have been times in my life when I accomplished concrete goals. Other times, I’ve had unexpected accomplishments that weren’t on my radar. If you do have a specific plan, though, how hard should you try to finish it? How do you know when you should give up? Isn’t there a chance that after 33 more attempts, you’ll have a breakthrough? When do you bend your will to that of the universe (or, for some, God)? And how do you live in such a way that allows you to work towards a goal and be adept enough to recognize when it’s time to move on?
I’ve got no answers, but we’ll explore the rest of this post tomorrow.