Ending a project well

As I get older it becomes more apparent that there are rarely moments of true success.  Success comes in small incremental moments, which often pass by uncelebrated.  I do try to write down small successes at the very least, but I mostly do not remember to do so.  This week I hit the deadline I wrote about last week.  I have no idea of the project is a success, but I have finished everything I can do to make it succeed and it was hard work.

My family took me out to dinner to celebrate the deadline being met and all the hard work I have put in.  Not celebrating the success of my piece of work – it may still fail, it is dependent on others now, not me.  In the same way as an exam result depends on the grade boundaries as much as the effort you put in, or a job interview depends on who else is being interviewed and what the employer wants, as much as my performance.  All of these things require lots of preparation, effort and a good amount of stress.  Yet we often only celebrate if all the other elements come together and we have a visible sign of success – a new job, the top grade etc.

My lovely family decided not to wait for the others to decide on my success and instead took me out for fizz and pizza to mark the end of a stressful time and welcome me back into a calmer phase of life.  I am so grateful they organised it and held me to it.  Left to my own devices I would have slunk to a sofa and an evening of non-stop TV.  But their kindness and cleverness truly did mark an end to the stress and yesterday felt like a new start and I felt fresher and more enthusiastic than I would have thought possible at the end of Tuesday.  I am giving lots of gold stars and loads of gratitude to the family team for pizza and fizz and a great evening out.

Deadline stress

I rarely work to big deadlines, instead I have busy periods and quieter ones at work. Just occasionally a project comes along that has a definite, unmovable deadline. There is one of those looming this week. And I just do not feel happy working like this. I don’t think I ever have. Even assignment deadlines at university were something I avoided, by having everything ready early. That sounds like I was being super diligent, but not really, giving myself some wiggle room just makes me calmer and happier.

In a work context when you’re working as a team in a fairly dynamic context of things developing and changing quickly through the project, its just not possible to be ready much before the deadline. So I am having to live with the stressful feelings instead. I’m dealing with it in different ways, from a glass of wine to reading lots, from long baths to short runs and this week ,as it all comes to a head, I am adding in huge dollops of yoga, meditation and prayer.

I’m doing my very best to take time away from work, as I know working many more hours will not make the work better. But it is still all whirring around in my mind – which is frustrating: I have deliberately put it all to one side and yet still wake up thinking about the project, or find my mind wandering back to it in downward-facing dog. I know, I know, I should watch the thoughts appear and not engage with them, but just note they’re there and let them pass. I’m trying honestly, but it is hard. So I have accepted that this is just not a comfortable way to work for me, I just don’t like hard deadlines. And that’s ok, I have a job where they do not happen very often and for that I am hugely grateful.

And we’re in exam season

The final set of GCSEs start today. We are now in the era of final exams, so new to us as parents, but ironically exactly the system we went through ourselves as students up to 1987. The stress is inevitably high in this system, everything rides on a few hours of written exam.

The weekend has been full of stress-relieving techniques, anything any of us could think of was embraced by the offspring. Sleep happened, good food was eaten. Time was spent outside, thankfully the weather was lovely, sunshine definitely helps. There have been lots of hugs. Time was spent being silly and laughing. Music was played and listened to. Baths were had.

Most of all there was acceptance of what this period is – it is difficult and it is stressful, but it is also short term. In five weeks it will all be done and the offspring seems marvellously aware of that.

Whatever the results end up being, I am incredibly proud of the way he has dealt with this weekend of anticipation and taken control of his own wellbeing as far as he can. He has verbalised feelings, asked for help and taken on suggestions. I could learn a lot from him.

Good luck to all taking exams.