Joy, delight, fun, calm, pleasure, happy. These are all feelings that I would love to experience while I’m working. Fortunately, I often do experience these feelings. Recently I haven’t. Why? The crunch of deadlines and something else that I realized has sent me off the deep end. Do you want to avoid a similar path? Avoid what happened to me.
Be where you want to be with people who you want to be. I’m a big fan of volunteer work. I’m also passionate about math and science education for our youth today. The knowledge and the problem solving that young students learn in these areas will be the foundation for our competitive edge with the world-wide workforce. I joined a group that shares my passion. The people involved are engaging professionals from a cross section of industries. What I quickly learned is that just being with people who share your interests isn’t enough. The group has had different people leading it over the years I’ve been involved. What I noticed early on was that action items were agreed upon and then nothing seemed to happen with them. I got frustrated with the group and thought about leaving. Then there was new leadership. Maybe there was hope.
Work the way you work best. The new leader was a complete turnaround from the previous one. Instead of nothing getting done, this time scope creep overcame each project. If I agreed to do one activity, suddenly the project required four activities. Even worse, the deadlines set were impossible to meet considering my business commitments. How can you run a business and volunteer when the volunteering sucks all the time off your calendar? Not only was I getting stressed with the volunteering, it was beginning to stress me in my work! What did I do? I learned to say “no.” Unexpected meetings? If I can make them, then it’s fine. If I can’t, I simply respond, “I can’t make them because I’ve got an appointment scheduled.” I don’t feel guilty either. What I’ve realized is that it’s almost impossible for me to meet the high standards that I’ve set for myself in this group. Why? To do well, I need to plan. I’m not someone who “wings it” and finds that works for me. Are you the same? I’ve learned that it’s not enough just to work with people who share your interests. They also have to share the way you work or eveyone adapts to each other. I can’t work with people who don’t respect the time commitments I’ve agreed to. I can’t work with people who take advantage of what I have to offer.
So what am I going to do? I’m not sure. I’m glad I realized what the problem is. I’m going to be more vigilant on what I agree to do. I’m going to see how much more unexpected projects come up. Then I’ll do something. One thing’s for sure. I’m not going to do this again.