Thursday, April 14, 2016

Thinking Deeply: Purpose

In the last couple days I’ve come to the recognition/decision that I don’t spend enough time thinking anymore. Which is weird because I think a lot. I overthink, I plan, and I process things to death. I had a meeting with some of my colleagues on Tuesday, which has been followed by some interactions with articles shared by people from that meeting on a web based (for lack of a better term) chat we are doing together.

Typically, when I blog, I feel much better because I’ve taken the time to put into coherent words things that have been rolling around in my head for a while – several days at least. This time, it’s been only a day and a half since this thought process began. It’s been busy at work (as always) and to be honest I feel a bit guilty about spending time reading and thinking when I have tasks to do. But these thought times are what makes my mind work better, my decisions be faster and more accurate for situations, and begin me on the road to innovating better solutions so I can be more productive in my job and in my life. So it’s not actually a waste of time, even if I feel that way. (note to self…)

I have also been wrestling for about the last month with a large (and daunting) question: Am I really supposed to have a career as an admin? That’s where I’m headed, and I have many skills that make it seem like the right choice, but it is also very stressful to me, even in the best of times. So when you through curves (which of course happens everywhere, and always more frequently than I’d like) the stress just doubles and triples with hardly a backward glance. I honestly don't know if it is the right life-goal for me or not. It may be, but if it is, I have many things I need to learn (either really learn, or learn to cope with).

Part of the “problem” is that I’m too emotional. Word it how you like, but I don’t have the time right now to rethink that bit. I invest much of my emotional energy into everything (ok, 99% of what) I do. Due to this fact, I am almost always drained after work. Even if it was the best day ever, I am not energized, I am exhausted. That isn’t bad, but most people I interact with seem to be the opposite. When they accomplish something they could follow it up by running a marathon. I feel the exhilaration, but it takes it out of me. Yes, hello, my name is Kara, and I am indeed an introvert.

I have learned fairly well in my 33 years ways to counteract this, and how to cope (mostly, and so far at least, I’m quite sure there is much more to be learned). I go through phases of wishing I was more like “everybody” else (knowing that’s not actually accurate), and being super glad I am the way I am – after all, it’s how God made me.

That being said, I have started to try to analyze myself and whether or not I should have an administrative position. What is it that stresses me out? I can manage many tasks and prioritize them, and accomplish them in an appropriate amount of time. Everyone I’ve worked with or for up to this point (8 years so far in this field) has given me high praise for being high capacity and detail-oriented, which is very true. I tell people often in conversations regarding such things that I am not good at vision – coming up with the big picture. But if I am given the end goal, the picture you want to see, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, I can see most (if not all) of the pillars and detours and threats that hold up, detract from, or completely derail the train to get there. That is a really good thing, but it also frequently annoys the visionaries because it also points out inconsistencies or incomplete information in their dream. I love dreams. I have many. But mine get derailed faster because I see the issues and simply don’t start. Not good. Some I pursue, but I get overwhelmed and they get stalled.

Ok. So, when I take time to pick something apart, it can be really good or really unhelpful. However, being wired and being raised in a family who thinks deeply, widely, and frequently, I always feel most alive when I’m processing something that makes a difference – for my work/company, for people I care about, or for myself. Of course, that means I have to come up with a plan of action too, because thinking about stuff and never acting is exactly the definition of a stagnant life.

One article that was shared out of my colleague group this week began with a couple questions – right in the introduction:
"Will you join us on this journey of taking ownership of our lives rather than being victims to it? Will you become one of the people who do beautiful, amazing things with your life?"
What a punch. Right from the off.

Do I think of my life as just something that happens to me? I don’t think I’d say that, but I also clearly hate change while still understanding it is necessary and good. I choose change too! I chose to move to another state. I chose to start a new job. I chose to be an admin, at least for now. Often, smaller changes, like starting projects at home, or dying my hair feel much less heavy. My hair will grow, so if I don’t like it, time will give me another go. It’s just hair. My project at home may take longer, or may end up being abandoned, but it’s worth a try. But bigger changes feel more permanent. Why is that?

The article includes 5 principles, all written in sections. I believe they were blog posts to begin with so they were posted at least days apart if not a week or so. The first section/principle is literally this: “You were designed to change.” It’s about 2½ pages about the good of change, and why we feel we can’t do it, as well as some explanation that God created us that way. But.
“...nobody changes at all if they don’t believe they’re supposed to.
So here’s the question: Do you believe you were designed to change? And if so, what’s stopping you? I mean that literally. What’s stopping you from changing?”
I don’t have an answer to that yet. I am still ruminating. I keep finding more articles, on seemingly different topics, that are relating exactly to my mind and heart right now. I have more processing to do before I share more, (if I remember to do that), but I’m finding encouragement in those things right now. You can too.

For now, I will dedicate time each week, working up to each day, to spend time thinking. Some days I will also process by writing. Others, I won’t. My hope is that it helps me to keep learning and growing and to not lose sight of who I am and who I want to be by being weighed down in my day-to-day tasks and responsibilities. My calling is higher than getting through the work week. I’m thankful today for that realization.

Here are the articles currently rolling around together in my brain: