Thursday, February 01, 2007


Apparently, I made a mistake in reporting that deadlines are useful for me. Yesterday afternoon, as I prepared to finish up and head home to be with the boys, I received an email from my coach, with a laundry list of tasks, with deadlines of today and tomorrow. Gaaack! Here is my reply:
Hi Paul,

First off... to clarify, I'm not someone who thrives on deadlines. That said, I find deadlines useful because they may help me prioritize tasks. I say may because sometimes a deadline is simply a break point for when I decide to forego a task rather than fulfill it. That in itself is useful, since it enables me to move on to something else, usually something I'm more committed to, or interested in.

I say these things because my initial reaction to your email yesterday afternoon, as I prepared to leave my office and spend time with the boys, was gut-wrenching. I feel a bit overwhelmed with the quantity of tasks (each one that properly will require energy and time) and the short deadlines you imposed. Partly, this is simply because I do have deadlines that are somewhat immutable at the moment. I'm taking an advanced language class (three hours of commuting on Friday), for which I have both assigned work, as well as an independent translating project, both of which I put on a back burner earlier this week, but which require a good deal of my time and energy today and tomorrow. I also have a conference in three weeks in Europe, for which I'm working up some analyses of data, which require a good deal of time, energy, and concentration.

I appreciate your pushing me, and I welcome your attitude that big changes lead to success. Let me spend a little time on the other tasks, regain my sense of control a bit, then tackle at least some of the tasks you've just given me by the deadlines you've set. I'll do my best to accomplish all of them in time, but I need to get to some other things first. And some of those tasks (like planning a vacation -- actually we have three trips we're planning this year) will require collaboration with my wife (and others whom we might visit), which means her time and energy as well.

This is only a little resistance to your requests, not rejection of them. On the action front, I worked up a flyer yesterday for my [Longitudinal Project], printed out a hundred copies, and distributed about half of them to various places I hope will net me volunteers. Last night, the Rocket Scientist and I talked a bit about priorities and our future. Seems like she is going through a bit of career crisis herself, and needs to talk a lot of this through, which is great, so we can dream and plan together.

--I wonder if all this self-report is useful to any of you, or whether it comes across as a bit too much navel-gazing on my part. Delurk, anyone?


Propter Doc said...

I'm fascinated by the process you are going through right now and I appreciate that it is quite a personal process so thank you for sharing. I was interested on Wednesday about the concept of deserving someone to pay you for being you because personally that is not something I recognise. I do understand that it is very easy to feel like a victim in job search processes.

Anyway, the process is useful, inspires people in similar positions to think about these issues. Things we wouldn't normally think of to consider.

Self-report is useful to me, some people might find it navel-gazing but if it helps you to write in this way then that is the most important thing.

It sounds like you have many exciting things happening at the moment, I hope they go well, and appologise for the above stream of poorly articulated thoughts. I'm not quite awake yet today!

timna said...

it sounds like progress to me, not at all like navel gazing.

I think I come by to see how you're doing with this process.

sometimes, when I have time to look up from teaching, I miss very much the research. and yet I seem to do what you said about some deadlines -- the ones that come and then go and I realize I've let another go by.


Lilian said...

I think it's very useful. Your response was very good. Lots of things going on in your life right now, plus the coaching!