I Think I Might Have Figured This Whole Work Thing Out

Ironically, just after posting that I was going to get back to blogging, and my first post back on how grateful I am, I got really sick, didn’t do anything, fell behind at work and so didn’t do any blogging while I caught up.

So, here we are again and now I am really grateful that I’m not sick.

Recently, I went full circle, spending two days in San Diego, where my first daughter was born and where I moved away from thirty-one years ago, to attend a soccer tournament for my fourth daughter.

Julia in San Diego

It’s been an eventful year. We received our third research grant, completed our second Kickstarter and our first accelerator program. Raised our first seed round.

Thirty-one years ago, I was an industrial engineer at General Dynamics. I’d just won the world judo championships. I’d also just gotten divorced. That was an eventful year, too.

You’d think after all this eventfulness I would have figured this whole life thing out. To some extent, I think maybe I have.

I have worked full-time since I was 15 years old, much of that time either going to school full-time, competing as an international athlete or working a second (third) job.

One thing it took me an unreasonably long amount of time to figure out was this:

The work will always be there. The time will never come that at the end of the day you say, “That’s it. My work here is done. I’m finished.”

Do a reasonable amount of hard work. Then quit worrying about it.

You are not going to run out of work. Don’t think you have to take every contract that comes across your desk, accept every job offer, even if it requires you to work until midnight six days a week. There may be intervals, say,  when you need to do that to pay for your child’s college education or found a startup but those should be INTERVALS in your life, not your whole life.

You are never going to be good as you want to be. Even if I knew everything possible to know about a software language, I still wouldn’t be satisfied. There would be another language that I didn’t know.

Enjoy the accomplishments. We were standing in line in a restaurant in San Diego when I just happened to glance at the jacket my lovely daughter had borrowed from me. It had a the logo of a tribal radio station on the back. I commented, “That radio station exists because I wrote the grant to fund it. It’s been there for years.” There are a lot of programs and products that exist because I wrote the grant, wrote the code, designed the program. The second each is over, I forget about it and go on to the next one. I’m learning to pause every now and then, pat myself on the back and say, “That came out well.”

stack of fishCheck out Fish Lake and Spirit Lake – What I’m working on now. If you buy a copy, you’ll get a free license for Forgotten Trail thrown in.

Strive to be better. Don’t strive for perfection or you’ll just make yourself crazy.


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  1. “You are not going to run out of work. Don’t think you have to take every contract that comes across your desk, accept every job offer, even if it requires you to work until midnight six days a week.”

    Right! And it never changes. Johann Hamann figured it out in 1765 and left us these words of wisdom:

    “Work is easy. True idleness required courage and fortitude.”

  2. While it’s nice to look out of windows, and some even think outside their boxes, it’s the people who leave those boxes – who seize their intervals and become / create the visions that others look out at – we deservedly admire. Anyone could, but the tragedy is that relatively few do. Carpe diem.

  3. Did you ever worry that if you didn’t work that hard all the time you wouldn’t attain your goals though? Thank you for posting these kinda of things, especially the last quote. I’m a hardcore perfectionist and it causes me to not even try sometimes because,”What if it doesn’t come out perfect?! What if I lose?! What if I fail?!” What if? Right? 🙂

  4. It is only through hindsight and life experience that we realize what is truly important.

  5. Chelsea –

    I think it is a balance, and it is hard to find that balance. Yes, if I did not work a 40 hour week while going to graduate school, I would not have been able to pay my bills and if I did not study much I wouldn’t have had the grades to go on to a Ph.D. However, I could have published MORE articles and maybe I would have taught at a better university. There is always more that you can do in any endeavor. The key question is what are you willing to give up to achieve a specific goal?

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