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Old 12-15-16, 07:31 PM
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Challenging weeks like these tend to be packed full of potential lessons

This week was an especially tough week, especially at work, but I learned a lot from it and I want to share some of it. It was challenging for several reasons:

(1) I had to do a lot of things that I did not know how to do,
(2) I have to do most work by myself, my colleagues are working elsewhere, so I have to create structure in my own day and I have to call them by phone or email if I need help and
(3) I made a few mistakes in my communication, like not communicating when it was expected and
(4) I promised to do a lot of things for others, without thinking if I could really do it and I set some deadlines that I could not successfully meet. On top of that, I
(5) worried a lot about what other people think of me, thinking I struggled a lot more than others (the imposter syndrome),
(6) I started panicking, and this blocked the problem-solving part of my brain that I desperately needed.
(7) I spend way too much time on work, and little time on doing things in my free time (except visiting my brother yesterday, which was a conscious choice; I knew I had to take a break, and it was very "gezellig" (dutch for something like a combination of "nice, cozy, social" (there is no word for it in English ))).
(8) Because of all these issues, I feared that I may fail at this job.

So, yeah, I think you see that this week was difficult (and it is not over yet; 1 day remaining; and by the way, you may also see that most of the difficulty was just in my own mind, but still, I perceived it as real, so it created a LOT of stress), but man, it seems like all this difficulty brings a huge amount of wisdom in return. Here are some of the lessons that I (re)learned:

(1) It's ok if you don't know everything. No one knows everything. I asked some colleagues about it (they are all consultants like me), and they told me that they often don't understand what colleagues told me. Everyone has their own specialization, which at the same time means that they know little about some other topics (some of which I happen to know way more about).
(2) I should ask my colleagues for help more, in fact, I discovered that my colleagues do this a lot, sometimes they ask many hours or days of help from others. In the future (when I have more experience) I can help them more, but I already help them a lot (somehow I forgot about that). Today I talked a few hours on the phone with two different colleagues, who helped me with an issue via TeamViewer (they had remote control over my computer). I learn a lot from that!
(3) I learned that communicating is the most important thing, not only when you have good news (for a client or a colleague), but also (especially) when you tried something and it didn't work. I sent a lot of emails to people, sometimes telling them that I managed to take a few steps in the right direction, but that I am not done yet, just to keep them posted.
(4) I should not make too many promises, especially not when people don't ask me to. I should also not say "yes" to everything. In fact, I should stop accepting new tasks (when possible) and focus on finishing the things that I have on my plate now, so that I can get some old tasks off my plate and then I can accept some fresh new tasks in the new year.
(5) My colleagues also struggle a lot. I asked a few about it, and they told me that they sometimes are stuck with a single (seemingly small) issue for weeks at a time. It's part of the job in IT. Sometimes you can do some things quick, sometimes you have an annoying problem and you need to accept that there is a limit to what you can do.
(6) It's very important to stay calm, especially when there is a lot on your plate. With a calm mind, it's much easier to solve problems. Also, often there are no big consequences to making mistakes, and worrying about it is just a waste of time and energy. A lot of things that you perceive as "big problems" are only happening in your mind.
(7) I should allow myself to do more fun things in my free time. I am not approaching a burn-out or something, because a week like this teaches me a lot and what I learn from it I will use to improve my performance at work, and to become more happy and relaxed. I would say that I am really burn-out proof, paradoxically, because I really don't like to suffer when I don't need to. I am not super lazy, in fact I like to work hard, but I also want to get some satisfaction in return and I want to also enjoy life outside of work.
(8) I accepted that I may fail, and that I will even be ok. I should be honest, respectful and disciplined at work, and if that is not enough, I can leave this company without destroying my reputation. Every day I should focus mostly on that day only, and on what I can do to help and what I can learn. In return, if I have to leave, I will take a lot of experience and skill with me, that will surely help to get me a job. I am in a good field, I think it will only take me a few days/week/months (at most) to land another job. But, most importantly, I don't really think that I will fail. I think my employer is quite content with me, and he seems to really understand that I need some time to grow and get comfortable in this position, and he allows me to screw up, in fact, when I do, he doesn't call it a "failure" and helps me draw the lessons from it. Often he is a lot more positive about me than I am .

I hope that I am able to retain most of these lessons, so that I can keep improving my life (and maintain my sanity ). Perhaps the biggest lesson is that is ok to be a human, that it's ok to be "me" (or you ) and that you should just try to be the best version of yourself. Life is too short to worry about little things, and keep those things from really doing what you are meant to do (I realize that a lot of what I am saying is really cheesy, but I think it's true ).

Anyways, I hope you found that interesting. Thanks for reading, curious to read your thoughts!

Last edited by Jacksper; 12-15-16 at 07:51 PM..
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