One of the most challenging parts for me of being in transition (home, work, location) is that I am really having trouble finding focus. I want to DO ALL THE THINGS and I can’t seem to decide what I feel passionate enough about to dive into. I go from thinking that renewing my efforts toward our Etsy shop is the right thing to do, to seeing someone tweet about how well her writing is going (for whom I am very happy btw) and thinking, I’ve been wanting to get back into writing! I should devote my time to that! Then I read a post about coding and think that I should come up with some projects to teach myself some programming I don’t yet know. I end up feeling scattered and just picking up my knitting or playing Animal Crossing.
I also keep being inspired by the many awesome acts of creation and innovation I’m seeing around the interwebs. Maximum Fun keeps adding to its list of kickass podcasts (and the ones that have already been around continue to delight and inspire), amazing DIYers are blogging about their projects and are finding happiness and even more opportunities for creativity, content innovators are looking at the world and finding ways to make it work the way they think it should, and there’s just such a lot of neat fucking stuff happening – I, too, want to be doing neat stuff and I know that I need to focus in order to make that happen.
I think that my general feeling of being not settled yet makes it more difficult for me to form a mental picture of what focusing on a particular thing looks like: I can’t see myself creating things in my new CraftyTown, because it doesn’t exist yet. I’m still getting my sea legs at my new job and there are still a thousand things I don’t know or I’m still researching to figure out what our normal operations look like. Even just finding a feeling of being settled in our new community is still eluding me. Making such a significant change in location has given me a ton of uncertainties: What if the sale of our old house falls through (again)? What if it’s a long time before we’re able to get our own place? Is my hair actually growing more slowly since we moved or is it just that I’m anxious to grow out this layered cut? What if this isn’t the right place for us to be? (Pretty sure the penultimate question in that list has an easy answer.)
Having just switched types of libraries to a job that, while it has many things in common with my past jobs, also has a lot of things that are different or new, also has me questioning everything. Is this the type of library I want to be in for the long haul? We’re in a budget crisis and a number of our systems are outdated and unlikely to be replaced anytime soon – should I be worried for my career since I’m not going to be able to stay up to date (at least on a really-knowing-them-since-I’m-using-them-daily way)? How long will it be before I really feel like I know what I’m doing here, and what if at that point it turns out that it wasn’t the right choice? Some of it may be due to library fatigue (growing tired of the stuff that never seems to change – this may be due to not spending enough time with other innovators). Switching types of libraries is a new thing for me, so for now I’m trying to just chalk it up to that. I have been reading a number of posts lately where others are wondering where their career path will lead, and several friends have recently become directors and have found it either awesome or awful. I’m going to write more about that later.
All of this adds up to one thing: nothing feels super certain, and that feeds my feelings of anxiety, which leads me to wander all over the place (mentally) without settling on a focus. I like to be a gal with a plan! I want to have a goal in mind and determine the steps on the path to getting there. On the one hand, I’ve been trying to treat this as a learning/development opportunity: learn how to feel okay with uncertainty, develop patience and the ability to Be Okay when not everything is figured out. To some extent I’ve been doing pretty well with this, but there’s always this voice in the back of my mind saying, “You’re not actually doing anything! You’re just wasting time when you have no plan! Get out there and DO ALL THE THINGS!”
So how do YOU deal with uncertainty? What strategies do you use to help you find focus?