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Posts Tagged ‘discomfort’

Tuesday night I headed to my running class after work. The regular instructor was out so my Monday trainer filled in and taught the class. I knew the second I saw her walk in, that she would be torturing us.

I wasn’t wrong.

After a few minutes of warm-up and incline runs, she said we’d be doing tabata interval sprints at a 12% incline. 20 seconds sprinting on the 12% incline, then 10 seconds rest – jumping to the runners – before jumping back on for another 20 seconds – repeated for what felt like 1 million times. I’m not going to lie, immediately I didn’t want to do it. Sprinting at a 12% incline sounded insane and jumping on and off for intervals sounded even worse.

But I did it. Not once did I walk, not once did I skip it, and not once did I reduce that incline. I pushed myself as hard as I could, far out of my comfort zone.

And you know what? It was probably one of my best workouts to date. I left feeling amazing (although so ridiculously sweaty I had to take an unplanned rinse in the gym showers –  going home undergarment-less) and now it’s the type of interval I want to add more often into my routine. I feel like 20 minutes of that would burn more calories, and increase my running time faster than my consistent slow 5k days.

Then yesterday I had my staff presentation. I had to sit in front of hundreds of people waiting to present my slides. All day my hands were sweaty, it was all I could think of and review in my head – and I kept praying that it would get cancelled or postponed. After a long day of waiting, I found myself getting micro phoned up (something I’ve never had done before) and handed a high-tech slide changer.

I think I started shaking while I sat in that chair looking out to the audience, waiting. And then it was my turn.

I started talking and the voice that came out, was not at all what I imagined as compared to how I felt inside.

Confident. Polished. Prepared.

I didn’t once look at my notes. I fumbled a word or two, but I sort of laughed it off and kept going.

And then what felt like seconds later it was all over. People clapped. People came up afterwards to tell me how poised I was. One director said she couldn’t believe it but that I didn’t say “Umm” once. Another said he couldn’t believe how slowly and clearly I spoke (saying I’m normally a fast talker is an understatement).  People have emailed me since, others have said job well done in passing in the elevator. I’m overwhelmed, in the best way possible.

That was probably the scariest thing I have done yet in my career and I was relieved when it was over. I was proud – I am proud –  even though there are things I would do differently now knowing how it went.

All in all, right now, I feel damn good.

Life-begins1

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I had in mind that I was going to write about a couple of different things today. Shin splints maybe or Yoga.

Then I came into work…

My new manager is leaving. Taking some time off to be a Mom, maybe take her career in a different direction when she decides to go back to work.

To say I am a bit freaked out by this is an understatement.

For one, in a mere 6 weeks, she has become the best manager I have ever had. She is a leader, a supporter, a mentor, and friend. She makes me feel like I will be a rock star, even when my confidence wavers. She stands up for the team when the culture here tries to eat us all up. She pushes us to be efficient, and makes us walk out the door at 5pm and have a life – rather than work our life away like so many other teams and departments here.

It is completely unknown what will happen.

If someone new comes in, they will have something to prove. And when you have to prove something to those above, it’s likely that means pushing unrelenting expectations down.

If someone new, they won’t know my reputation here from the past 6.5 years. They may not understand why I’m not yet qualified to be in this role.

I love what I have been learning. I love this new career path. And I really love the work-life balance that has come from it.

All I can do is wait. Wait to see what happens. Try my best to stick together with the new team and keep the quality of work and the quality of life just as high as it’s been.

This takes discomfort to a whole new level.

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Yesterday as I was packing up my office it really hit me, deep down I know this is the right move for me and for my future career path. I might be anxious and uncomfortable, but I’m not doubting my decision.

I know not everyone around me agrees. For many they just don’t get it. Right now, I’m managing people and in the new role I’ll only manage projects. To many, including my Mom, they think it’s a step down. A step back down the ladder I’ve been climbing for 6 years. And shouldn’t I want to keep climbing the ladder and getting to the top? Shouldn’t I want to keep going until I’m at the Chief level? Shouldn’t I want to use every relevant part of my masters?

The answer is no. I just don’t.

For a while I thought I wanted that. I wanted to want that. I felt pride in saying I wanted that.

But I truly don’t want that anymore – or maybe I never did to begin with. The decision I’ve made to switch career paths solidifies that.

I want to work hard and see the tangible results of my work. I want to spend my time pushing projects through deadlines, organizing tasks, and managing people’s roles. I want to see the start and end of each project. And most of all, I want to have a life outside of work.

I don’t want to spend more than half my time managing people and a budget.  I don’t want to worry about payroll, vacation requests,  or personnel issues. It’s not that I was bad at managing people, or really great at it either, I think it just doesn’t interest me at this time. I also don’t want to continue being in a support role – where I think I’m heading home at 5:30pm only to be still at my desk at 8pm.

I think there are parts of the new job I’m going to really excel at right away. I’m a great organizer, I can see the big picture and yet still hone in on all the little details, and I have no problem jumping in and getting my hands dirty. I also think there are going to be parts of the job that will throw my comfort out the window. Networking, socializing, building relationships, leading – I have a hard time doing all of those things with people I don’t know.  I’m used to being the quiet one, taking it all in and stepping in only when I was 100% confident in what I was going to say. I definitely don’t get to do that anymore.

But that’s when I remember what discomfort does. Obviously it pushes me to grow, but it also makes me feel alive. And that’s how I’m feeling at the end of this last day at my old desk. The anxiety and fear is still very much apparent but mostly, I feel energized and motivated.

Someone remind me of that in a few weeks when I’m crying out from the discomfort.

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Last Thursday and Friday I was in a fantastic and productive mood. (Big difference from my pickle day.)

It’s so funny how my mood takes a turn for the positive when I’m busy, productive and feeling motivated. I’ve always said, the more I have to do – the more I seem to get done and the better I feel. Burning the candle at both ends really brings out the best in me.

So this past Monday I gave my formal acceptance of the new role. I start on March 1st splitting my time transitioning between the current and new role, with a goal of spending 100% of my time in the new role by the end of March.

Yesterday I worked from home. As I sat in my living room typing away and not having much in person contact with others I started to feel anxious and flat out uncomfortable with my decision to make this career change.

Am I making a mistake? I have to give up more than I realized…

  • My own personal office
  • A boss I have had for 6 years and therefore know what her goals and pet peeves are
  • A team that is positive, hard-working and respects me as the expert
  • A flexible schedule in that I can state when I need to take lunch outside of the office, run to the doctor’s or take vacation
  • Working from home – I work on Tuesdays from home. I imagine for at least the first few months I won’t be working from home
  • Confidence – in every meeting, on every call, during each project – I knew the right answers, I knew the questions they’d ask, I just felt like I knew it all.
  • Comfort – after 6 years, I’m flat out comfortable. I don’t  worry or stress about coming into work. In fact, I’m pretty meh about it in general.

So what is the payoff to keep going through this discomfort?

  • A new skillset
  • A mentor I respect and am looking forward to working with
  • Training and certification for my PMP paid for by the company that will help me in my career forever (if I pass…)
  • Managing projects and no longer being in a support role (one that caused too many last second late nights, cancelled plans, 2 am calls)
  • A career path that will allow me to have kids, reduce hours or move up, move between industries (if I want)
  • The option to work two days a week from home (after a certain amount of time)
  • A career path that will allow me to higher my salary without fully losing my work/life balance

Fake it until I make it? I want to do this. I can do this. I will push past this discomfort and keep going.

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Discomfort then Growth

If you could describe how I’m feeling right now, discomfort would pretty much sum it up.

DCom

I’m anxious.
Uneasy.
Worried.
Nervous.
A little regretful.
But excited too.

I am taking the new role at my company. Essentially I’m still under the same department, but I’m on a team with an entirely new role. I’m going from a supervisor of a small team that focuses solely on web updates to a project management role on the project services team.

I was approached by a woman at work on that team who said she saw the innate skills of a great project manager in me. She offered to mentor me herself. She convinced me that it would become a career path for me, and would allow me endless opportunities wherever I wanted to go. She wants the challenge of teaching and mentoring someone.

The idea really excited me. How long has it been since I felt challenged and content at work? A long time.

It takes my favorite aspect of my job – seeing a project through from start to finish and all the details in between and would make that my day to day role. It would be challenging work at times, but far better hours (some long days at the end of projects but mostly 9-5:30 on other days).

But it’s terrifying.

I’ve been on my team for 6 years. I’m known as the expert. I’m the go to. I’m confident in what I do, who I talk to and each meeting I step into. I love my team and how hard they work. I know their strong points, their challenges, and I know what works to motivate them.

I hate feeling uncomfortable. I hate feeling vulnerable. I hate feeling dumb. And most of all I hate the fear and risk of failure. This switch essentially rolls up all of my hates and serves it to me on a silver platter of doubt.

But looking back, this is really a pattern for me.

I find a new idea, challenge or opportunity. I think about taking it on, and I get more and more excited as I think about it and plan to do it. Then I actually take on the new challenge and I immediately feel doubt, discomfort and a tiny bit of regret for what I got myself into. Then I push through, as I always do, and in the end – what comes out of it – is usually an experience of a lifetime. A life changing experience.

I could go back and read this in detail on my own blog through my first triathlon training and when I started dating the Townie. How many times did I almost quit before and during both? But I pushed through and to date, crossing the finish line of my first triathlon and standing in the church and marrying the Townie now Husband, are some of the best moments of my life.

I guess it’s time to accept that I’m going to feel uncomfortable for a while.

“Don’t be afraid to expand yourself, to step out of your comfort zone. That’s where the joy and the adventure lie.”

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As somewhat of a type-A person I have a really bad procrastination habit.

For example, when I was finishing grad school a few months ago I would leave papers until the last-minute. Literally until the last-minute. I would be up at 4am just starting a 12 page paper in hopes of getting it done before my 7am shower time for work and then my 5pm run time to get to class.

The funny thing is I would stress about it for the entire week prior. In the back of my mind it would be there, nagging me. And yet I’d do anything to put it off. I’d clean my apartment, watch endless tv, take short naps, call my Grandmother who can’t hear, I mean really just about anything. But during every one of those activities my stress level would rise and rise about the impending paper deadline.

Yet it was a repeated habit. It happened with every final paper and project.

And lately it’s happening elsewhere.

At work I got a couple of huge and difficult new projects. In my mind I’m finding ways to put them off or focus elsewhere. Yet I was becoming so stressed about them that I’m having nightmares and I’m thinking about them all the time. I swear I found my first grey hair two nights ago.

The real issue is that I’m uncomfortable with these new projects. I’m not sure I know how to do them so rather than face that, I’ve been ignoring them and completely procrastinating. But that does no one good, especially myself.

So today I bit the bullet. I got two of these projects worked on, one of which is almost complete. And you know what? It’s not perfect, but I feel like 6,000 pounds has been lifted off my shoulders.

Seriously it’s time I learned my lesson. Sometimes you just need to get it done.

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