Monday, February 13, 2012

Cleaning the Closets

I have declared war on clutter.  This weekend I weeded out documents from 1999 to 2007.  It may not seem like a step toward achieving my goal, but this goal is more than just a job; it's about cleaning out the clutter in my life and letting go.  Besides working with mentors and updating my PMP application, I'm putting my home office in check.  I've researched how long to keep tax returns and what documents can be tossed after a year, which I was surprised included monthly statements and utility bills.  I may have only tackled 7 years of documents, but it feels amazing to know that I can let it go.  I don't have to hold onto them out of fear that someone will come back demanding to know how much I paid for cable in 2006.  Piles upon piles of papers are now waiting to be burned in a glorious blaze of success.

I have also used this cleaning spree to organize my thoughts on finances, career, life, and home.  I love to collect articles that inspire me.  Some articles provide useful information, such as how long to keep paper documents, and some are stories that inspire me.  I had a folder where I had stashed these gems, but it wasn't very useful.  Everything jumbled together and nothing was organized.  Instead of hitting the gym one night, I grabbed $20 worth of office supplies and made a nice little portfolio.  Now all of my clippings and printouts are categorized by subject with three hole page protectors and dividing tabs.  Yes, I am that nerdy.  You should see what I did to my collection of recipes.

Cleaning out my closets has been a great release.  It showed me that some items are important to keep and others are just markers of time.  I value my family and friends.  Achievements are important to me and personal growth is a lifelong aspiration of mine.  That crowded closet can weigh on your mind.  I found myself thinking about the clutter rather than living in the moment with the people that matter.  Now that it's gone, I hardly remember why I kept it in the first place.  Trying to hold onto every aspect of your life is exhausting and takes up space that could have been used to add more joy to your day.  Let go of the fear that you "might need that someday" and the clutter will be easy to clear away. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Kidding Around

After much deliberation, I've decided to write a children's picture book.  Not just because I think this offers an array of interesting subjects to write about, but because strategically I'm attracted to the idea of sitting down during naptime and knocking out a large chunk of a book in one sitting.  The shorter nature of children's literature means that I could write a bunch of books, hone my skills, and pick the best one(s) to submit to publishers.  So, given this turn of strategy, my schedule has also changed.
Amber's Sure-To-Be-A-Failure Failure Club Schedule
  1.  January 31 – Decide whether to write a children’s or adult book, fiction or non-fiction - Done!
  2. February 1 - February 29 – Read two books about publishing children's books, understand the process
  3. March 1 – March 31 – Write two books, get feedback from five people on the books, join an author’s club or professional association
  4. April 1 – April 30 – Write two books, get feedback from ten people (including children), and find and meet a local author to get feedback from
  5. May 1 – May 31 – Write two books, get feedback from fifteen people (including children), blog an exert
  6. June 1 – June 30 – Write two books, get feedback
  7. July 1 – July 31 – Choose one or two favorites, revise
  8. August 1 – August 31 – Research publishers that may accept my book and figure out the submission process, keep revising if necessary 
  9.  September 1 – September 30 – Submit book to publisher! 
  10.  October 1 – October 31 – Work on submission for next publisher, meet another author
  11.  November 1 – November 30 - Write more books?
  12.  December 1 – December 31 – Contact publisher if haven’t heard back, but most likely they will love the book and I’ll have a contract in my hand!  Right?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Lady's Failure Goal

No my parents weren't hippies, I'm writing with a psuedoname.  I want to explain that this is not an act of overt privacy, it's an act of respect for my failure goal of being in a new job by the end of the year.  I am currently employed and using the Failure Club to launch into my next career step.  It has taken over five years to convince myself to become a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and change my career.  Since I have not formally announced my intent to switch jobs, I'm using Lady Aspiration and  Company X as a way for me to document the journey without over sharing my intent before I'm ready.  If you are a friend and have figured out my identity, I ask that you also respect the nature of this project and not share it with others.

My goal of becoming certified in project management and finding a new job to fit those skills has been on the back burner for over five years.  I would say it started within the first year of working at Company x.  I was a happy little college graduate turned tool application developer.  I thrived on being master of my own little corner of the universe and my confidence was boosted with each new level of expertise I achieved.  I was delusional to the point of thinking myself a rising star.  Maybe the thought of being a technical leader in Company X had merit, until my project reorganized and I found myself adrift in a new job.  Due to the nature of the reorganization, I was unable to choose my new position or stay with the team that initially hired me. 

Even in my state of green ambition, I couldn't muster anything more than a daily "I must do this" attitude.  The processes included new coding standards with detailed design documents that left little room for me to creatively code a solution.  My freedom to develop tools in a free form process was gone.  I was no longer allowed to personally gather the requirements, outline a design, and bring it to the team for approval.  Being the new man on the team, I was issued a long line of defects and small requirements that felt more like copy paste than using a degree I spent over four years to attain.  I was spiraling into depression and anxiety to the point that I would often have anxiety attacks when I returned home.  I was a mess and had severe doubts if I had wasted my college education on the wrong career path.

Hope arrived about six months later in the form of a new manager that recognized my dissatisfaction and helped me to find a new position in Company X.  We worked together and eventually I transitioned to another team where my skills matched the project needs.  My satisfaction increased dramatically and, as a result, my performance increased.  It didn't take more than two years before my skills in breaking code outshone my ability to develop code.  I was soon appointed the new testing guru and transitioned to coordinating the project testing effort a few years later.

Today I realize what I should have known my whole career:  I enjoy managing projects.  I love working with stakeholders and shaping their requirements into a useful application design.  When I was removed from the requirement and design process, my job brought me little joy.  Being able to coordinate and organize resources allows me to use my skills to achieve an objective.  For six years, my mind was closed to the fact that my degree didn't define me, it enhanced me.  I brainwashed myself into believing that I had to be a coder in order to use my college education.  I have since changed my perspective to appreciate that college prepared me for my first job and now it's up to me to find a job that aligns with my skills.  That's where the Failure Club comes into the picture.

Over the next year, I will push myself to achieve the goal of landing a PMP level job.  Can I achieve my PMP certification early in the year?  Will the current job landscape provide the opportunities to change job roles?  How will this goal impact my personal life?  I fully expect to be challenged to grow in ways I can't even imagine.

Welcome to my adventure.  I hope that you can find joy in sharing this experience with me.