focus

Jordan Jesse Go!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?

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4 comments to focus

  • Oh, I’m there too. I am so there, right along with you. My job may be about to change significantly, and there’s just so many things I want to do, both personally and professionally, and not enough time to do them.

    Sometimes wasting time is a good thing, though. I’ve been in that same rut (maybe it’s summer?) where I just want to sit on the couch and do stupid things all night, then I feel bad because it’s 10:30 PM and there’s a stack of books I want to read and a bunch of half-finished projects that I enjoy working on, and all I’ve done for the last two and a half hours is play Candy Crush.

    I’m trying to make a really conscious effort to invest the majority of my leisure time in the things I love to do. I try to take some time every day to do something creative, even if it’s just cutting some fabric for a project or stitching on my cross-stitch project while I watch something dumb on TV. And I’ve stopped taking my damn iPad on breaks at work so I can actually READ instead of playing mindless iPad games. I still don’t do everything I want to do, but I feel like I’m happier with how I’m spending my time.

    I also feel like I’m falling a little behind on the innovation tip. Part of it is that I’m not where the innovators are any more. I’m never on Twitter, I don’t read very many library blogs, and I’m so concerned with managing the day-to-day around here that I don’t really have time to look very far ahead.

    Long story short: next time I’m up in NW IN, we need to get together and commiserate/do something awesome. We’ll be up there in mid-August, and again sometime around Labor Day. Have you been to Three Floyds brewery yet? We could drink beer, eat food, and talk library stuff. (Or Animal Crossing.)
    nanette recently posted…On the blog hop, and my “identity” as a blogger.My Profile

    • Nanette, thank you for commenting! It’s reassuring to know that it’s not just me. That feeling you describe of just wanting to sit on the couch and then feeling guilty about it – that’s definitely it. I’ve been trying this week to pick up my knitting instead of my 3DS, figuring that at least that way I will have a tangible object sometime in the near future and maybe that will feel more like accomplishing something.

      The innovation thing – I wish I knew a solution for this. It seems like almost every library these days is in a fiscal crisis of some kind, which seems to really decrease the likelihood of innovation and creativity. I know that leaders try to say that a crisis is a perfect time for creativity, but in my experience they end up squashing it instead because they are so worried about not spending any money and they set a tone of NOTHING NEW – IT’S ALL TOO COSTLY. And when you look at folks online who are doing things that are innovative enough to get press, it’s almost discouraging (instead of inspiring) since their surroundings look nothing like what I’m seeing. I’m also very focused on the day-to-day here – just trying to learn my new job and institution – and it is really challenging to make time for daydreaming/coming up with creative ideas.

      I would LOVE to get together! We haven’t been to Three Floyds yet and I would love to go! Just let me know when’s good for you! :)

  • I’m a big fan of lists, but I’m also having a lot of luck with applying ideas I got from The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. Worth a look if you’ve got the time.
    Jessica recently posted…Librarian Win(s)My Profile

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