Wishes and Dreams

A bit off topic this one.

Maybe it’s mid-life, maybe it’s just that I’m able to look forward a bit more.  I’ve been considering the difference between wishes and dreams, at least in terms of what’s next for me and my family.

Wishes are the types of things that are out of the ordinary, or require a substantial amount of luck to achieve.  Nobody dreams of wining the lottery, they just wish that they did.  The types of things that you do need a genie to grant.  They are not in your control.

Dreams are long term goals that require effort to achieve.  A dream job.  A dream car.  All things that are usually long term, and/or require a lot of work.  They are often times largely within your control.

A simple example is that you dream of having a retirement of relative ease.  You’d stash away parts of your pay for a long time, sound investments, and get a decent return at the end.  Not worry about bills and have some flexibility to do various things.  Alternatively, you could wish for a jet-setting retirement after winning the lottery by playing every week.

Fun stats:  Powerball in the US is around 1:300,000,000 odds of wining.  6/49 in Canada is about 1:13,000,000.  Getting hit by lightning, twice, is 1:9,000,000.

I’m already living part of the dream though.  I have a really great job/career.  Great family/kids.  Financial stability.  Pretty much every plan I put into play when I was finishing high school has worked out.  A immense amount of work & effort to get there, but I got there.

Now it’s about enjoying what I have, and planning for the next part.  And truthfully, there are 3 major things left on this.  A specific type of cottage, a set of trips to specific locations, and a good education for my kids.  The last 2 are long term and already have some pieces in play.  The former… that’s been on my mind for 20 years.

Enough that I have it etched into my mind.  I know the layout, the size, the items within, the fixtures, the sunrise… it’s quite ridiculous in fact.  For the next couple years, I’ll be building a book of ideas.  Pictures, articles, plans, estimates – enough to transfer the picture in my mind’s eye to reality.

I think I’ll use this blog, and a new page to keep track of some of them too.  I love new projects.

Stressy McStressface

I’ve been leading a particular project for over a year now, with no breaks.  The big go-live date is this Thursday.  There’s a few loose threads but nothing too big.  Like most large projects.  I’ll explain what it is in a few weeks, so as not to jinx anything.

The kicker in this one is that it’s a project I’ve been trying to implement for years, and one that I am quite vested in its success.  I work for a group that doesn’t have the best of reputations and has a more corporate view of change.  In other words, the change we traditionally bring is more overhead, not something people are exactly clamoring for.  This project, it’s different.  Those that have been on the pilot have had nothing but positive feedback and wanting to accelerate the schedule.  Good stuff, generally.

The side effect of a large project, with high demand, is a lot of stress.  I’ve taken a better approach at managing this over the years.  I delegate what I can, prioritize the work, re-scope/focus the team.  I’ve really lucked out at the quality of the individuals on this project, though truthfully I’ve just used amazing references and keeners to get this far.  Still, the stress is there and I can feel it gradually pulling me down into exhaustion.

Family life has been good and busy.  It’s motivating to work hard when you know you have a good spot to go home to after the day is done.  The outdoor rink was built over the weekend.  3 hours of cutting, 1 hour of setup, with a team effort.  I’m quite happy with what’s there and I’m looking forward to spending a lot of time out there this winter.

Side note – my wife is rather empathetic to my stress, and naturally worried about my health.  I usually crash during the holiday break, the body just has had enough.  Then there’s a dozen activities with friends and family.  I recharge by being alone/small group, so this isn’t exactly restful.  I proposed simple skipping it all and heading down south.  She called the bluff (which in hindsight wasn’t a bluff) and booked something within a couple days. Awesome wife.

Long rambling post to say that I feel somewhat frayed.  I know the people I work with are doing a super job and that once this is done, it will be a highlight for everyone’s career, and have a dramatic impact on hundreds of thousands of people.  I know that I will crash something fierce when the stress is gone.  I just hope that it’s in that order.

Deadlines

Interesting word, that.  The line after which things die, which is of course hyperbole.  Of all the times the word deadline is uttered, it rarely ends up being fatal. Might be out of a job, or lose a house, or some other very negative thing, but most of the time it’s just fake pressure.

That’s not to say that the deadline itself isn’t important.  If it wasn’t, or if people we’re serious about it, no one would care.  There absolutely has to be some accountability for it, as there is always a cause.  Poor planning, poor finances, poor resources, unforeseen issues.  Someone, somewhere, has to manage those dates.   Then you need to manage expectations from your bosses about moving dates faster, or damage control if they slip.  Fun times.

All that to say that the project I’m running now has multiple dependencies outside of my control.  Outside of my boss, and his boss’ control.  There’s certainly some pressure, with daily updates to the VP, weekly to the president.  It’s a fun balancing act of keeping the staff shielded from that, allowing them to do the work they do best, and somehow keep the bosses happy with progress.  Or at least explain why there are delays in such a fashion that they a) believe you and b) accept it.

There are days where I feel more like the meat in a sandwich, little to show for the day’s work.  There are other days where there are large breakthrough, acceleration on activities that were planned to take much longer.  Others where the opposite occurs and a key dependency indicates that they haven’t actually done any of the work yet and don’t know when it will be done.  I certainly try to focus on those good days, because people need some sort of hope of the end of a project.  I try to find ways to mitigate those dependencies, maybe have some sort of interim solution in place instead, isolating that group.

End result is that long-term relationships get built, destroyed, and re-built over a project.  I am not one to throw someone under the bus, and sometimes tough calls have to be made.  We each go home at the end of the day, and we’re not exactly curing cancer.  The real end goal here is reputation and trust.  Saying you’ll do something by a certain date and keeping track of that date.  When a date slips and people know about it, people are working to correct it, then that builds some level of trust.  The opposite behavior degrades trust and makes conversations much more difficult in the future.  No one ever goes it alone, and it’s important to know past behavior will influence future.

Still a few months to go before the major delivery is done.  Quite a few good contacts and relationships made over the duration so far.  Some… maybe not so good.

By the end of this project, I expect a few news articles at the start of the new year, a lot of personal and professional growth, a team that has achieved more than they originally thought possible, and a big shift in the way our organization works on a daily basis.  And then a month-long vacation.

All if we can meet our deadlines.

Summer Time

Been a while since the last post.  A lot going on mind you.

  • Turned 30
  • Played about 15 rounds of golf
  • Headed camping
  • Built a new garden
  • Got a new AC installed
  • Planned a new landscape
  • Got rained on for what seems like 3 weeks

On top of all that, I’m in the 3rd Phase of P90X.  I hit the scale today about 10 times in a row thinking the damn thing was busted but I lost 4lbs in the last week.  More than that single number, I can feel it everywhere.  Clothes fit better, the programs are not so much easier but I can do more in them with more intensity.  Belt notches are being used that haven’t been used in over 10 years.  Wife seems to notice as well, so that’s a bonus.

The plan is to hit 190 before hockey starts near the end of September.  Heck, even if I started playing now I’d be faster and stronger but there’s something about having a target that pushes you harder.  Am I on pace?  Well, the first few months were less about losing weight and more about getting into shape, building the muscle needed to burn calories just sitting down.  I’ve got most of that done now and I’ve yet to change my caloric intake from what I had almost 3 months ago.  Basically I’m burning about 20% more calories in a day with the same intake, so the weight is going to come off a bit faster for the next few weeks.  By the end of August, I’ll re-adjust my diet to increase the carb/calorie proportions to reduce the weight loss and increase the endurance/muscle gain.  Feels great!

And on a completely disrespectful note:

– A woman asks: The next time my boyfriend asks me to make him a sandwhich, what would be a great comeback?

-A guy answers: Well

No More Meteor!

So ya, been really friking busy with all sorts of things.  Getting married in under 2 months, fun stuff but busy stuff.

I also can’t access this site from work, which is often times where I made my lunchtime updates.  Have to figure an alternative to that problem.

In the meantime, don’t Photoshop while drinking.