Sunday, January 21, 2007

Meditation on My Progress

THE ENVELOPE OF GOALS — some of which I remember, some of which have slipped my mind — still sits on the ledge of my whiteboard. It greets me as I leave the apartment. Though I may not recall explicitly every single detail, I use it as an inspiration to improve something —to keep moving forward, to expand my boundaries or tighten my routines just a little bit each day, and to end unproductive or damaging habits that keep me from achieving my potential.

It's a long list, but some of them will have lasting effects, and will efface deeply engraved habits, so I am introducing them in digestible chunks to avoid being discouraged. I've continued noting my achievements in the Google Docs list. When the month ends, I'll make some notes for myself to see how I did and shift focus if I need to.

This may all sound basic, but I need to build this level of discipline if I pursue a freelance career. With the right boss, I thrive; but I may need that boss to be me. I need to have confidence in my ability to overcome a variety of disasters that I ordinarily would get an officemate or tech support person to resolve. I also need to fine-tune my recordkeeping. It's already quite good; I spent some time at work last week disposing of weekly records of work I did from the first day of work at my current job. If I am working for myself, however, I will need to maintain tax, billing, and accounting figures; file and manage warranties for hardware and licenses for software; execute regular software updates and disk backups; and regularly solicit new business. Even if I go the gradual route and ease into freelance work, these skills will be critical.

With the departure of my last couple of January 2007 newsletter titles, I will have lots of time on my hands at work. I will use this time to perfect my resume, engage the assistance of our outplacement firm, and post my data on the job-hunt sites. I will also do some work to see how much building a home computer system would cost, and maybe — if they don't fire me for all of this Internet browsing — check out the process of forming my own corporation.

I've also spent time writing at work. Some of my recent posts have begun in a work email, then have been sent home for completion and posting. One of my goals is to write daily. Not necessarily posts here, not even anything I would ever sell. I think one of my biggest mistakes is not fully cultivating my talent. It is far from too late, but I do regret not taking the advice 10 years ago, of someone I know, of writing daily. He recommended I wrote 3 hours per day. At the time, I copyedited freelance for my employer, so this was 15 hours per week (I excluded weekends) I could be earning risk-free money. So I scoffed at this, saying there was the issue of how I would earn a living at what I felt was going to be crappy writing anyway. I should note that my interlocutor is a fierce optimist who knows no shame in pursuit of success, and it has paid him well; he is the cofounder of a successful, NYSE-affiliated daytrading firm. If he was confident enough to take that sort of risk and endure through the dot-com crash and the market tumult after 9/11, surely I can rethink my resistance and, if nothing else, develop what I have long suspected is one of my greatest skills.

With nothing to do at work except watch the outsourcing initiative induce wailing and gnashing of teeth amid our editors, and the production-change initiative founder rudderless, I need these goals, long term and short, to feel useful, to feel like I am moving something forward in a torpid department. The last thing I am concerned about right now is money. It will come. I just have to trust myself to make decisions, to adjust my aim when I fail to hit my mark, and event to cut loose unrealistic goals when I find I'm just wasting effort on something unattainable. Forward motion.

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