I have talked not at all so far about my red goals. And with strong reasoning. I’m embarrassed by them. Or rather, I’m embarrassed by some of them. Red is about a combination of physical and type-A driving forward, and generally speaking, it embodies the physical side of life plus my career. Let me start with career, because it is the easiest to talk about, and was part of the catalyst for the PolyWogg 4.0 commitment.
I started at Foreign Affairs back in ’93 — 22 years ago this month. I find it almost impossible to fathom. But that’s not the point. I spent 4 years doing various contracts and terms, and then started at CIDA as an indeterminate PM-1. Then PM-2 and PM-3 over the next couple of years. Then a switch to ES-04 in 2002, and ES-06 in 2005. In 2008, we reclassified the ES-06 positions into EC-07 but it’s the same level, just a different name. And I’ve had a chance to be a director on numerous occasions, with the most recent stint being just over a year ago. I’m good at what I do, I think strategically, I’ve got good experience, and I like managing. It seems like a no-brainer to move up. Except each time I approach an EX job, I balk a bit. I haven’t been sure it’s what I want. And this past fall, as I geared up for a competition that was the best chance I would likely ever have at making it into a pool, I realized I had almost no interest in doing the competition, no interest in getting the job, and no interest in learning to be a new EX over the next year. I had other goals, other life pieces that were calling to me, and it wasn’t about investing more time and energy in my career. There are some people who think my current level is the best in government, and some who think it’s one of the worst. You have managerial responsibilities, staff, some latitude and autonomy, but you are not part of the executive cadre, you don’t get performance pay, you don’t sit at the big table. Ultimately, putting all the navel gazing aside, it came down to a simple principle that I believe in beyond almost all others for careers. Life is too short not to be doing what you want to do, and becoming an EX was not what I wanted to do right now. I am not saying no to it forever, nor even yes to it eventually. Just answering the simple question, “No, I don’t want it right now.” So I withdrew from the competition. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a slam dunk, I was going to make it. But it was the type of competition that is relatively tailor-made for the type of work I do.
But I’m not going for it, and it leaves me a little at odds to figure out “What’s next” for my career. I like what I do, and I don’t particularly want to change jobs, but it has been awhile that I’ve been doing the same type of work, if not the same job, and eventually I will have to figure out what I want to move on to, rather than what I am moving away from in my current tasks. In the meantime, I like my files, I like my branch, I like my staff and I like my boss. I like my job. Maybe not for another 15 years worth of liking it, but for now, I’m happy where I am. Which leaves the only thing I want to do in the next year is update my French profile. It is woefully out of date, and I really need to commit to fixing it. Which I hope to do, starting in March. It will be somewhat self-directed for awhile, but I need that to rebuild my foundations. My goal is a minimum of 30 minutes a day of french study, at least three times a week.
On the physical side, it divides first into “health”. I have an ongoing health problem that they can’t find a cause for, and it is a bit worrisome when it crops up. Without sounding overly scary, I have some mild numbing in my face at times. Not like a stroke, or paralysis, more like a bit of my face has fallen asleep. Usually accompanied by a sinus headache and sore eyes. We’ve done the big tests — heart tests, fMRI, Cat-Scan, etc., blood work out the wazoo, and nothing. No apparent cause. I have high blood pressure, mostly related to weight, and while it’s totally under control with medication, it’s possible that it could be related to the meds, but unlikely since it’s rather sporadic and infrequent. One possibility at present is that it could be sleep-related, so I’m doing a sleep test this month to see if I have apnea or only grinding. I’m going to keep plugging away at finding a cause, and I’m do for a physical this year. I’ve already eliminated allergies and asthma causes too.
Beyond that health, the only other things on my “health” side this year is to find a new dentist, possibly a more local doctor, and to make more regular visits to see massage therapists and chiropractor for neck and back.
Which leaves me with the last part of ongoing, that I’m going to skip over for now to talk more about the bucket list items. I have three that I want to tick off this year, and while the first is simple, the other two are scary enough that the fact that I’m talking about them first rather than the last of the ongoing, you know I really don’t want to talk about the ongoing stuff.
First off the bucket list will be my ongoing commitment to give blood. That may sound relatively simple, but it has been exceedingly complicated to set up. No, I’m serious. I wanted to do it once at work, and they basically said no because my Ontario Health card wasn’t registered or something. Then someone called to book Andrea in at Canadian Blood Services, and I spoke to them too, and we set up a special time near the holidays two years ago. Andrea and I trundled over to the building, all ready to go. Except the one staff member who was there was very confused because none of the doctors or nurses were actually there that day, and she couldn’t figure out how we were scheduled. Only to find out the scheduler had booked us for the previous year. No go. Next time we went to schedule it, I asked about whether I could give blood considering I was on blood pressure meds i.e. would they take the blood with those meds in my system. I knew they *could* take blood, because I’ve had lots of blood work done, but I didn’t know if they *would* take it because of the meds. Apparently no one knew. I was transferred twice, they said they would follow up, no one did. They did tell me however that I probably couldn’t just go to any blood drive, because the people wouldn’t know whether the meds would affect things since the “experts” at CBS didn’t know themselves. In the end, I’ve got other things to do than chase the experts to get this figured out so I can donate, if I can. This year, I’m going to ignore whose rabbit it is to chase, and I’ll pursue it once again. It doesn’t help that I don’t like needles. I had needles as a kid for allergies, once a week for a couple of years, and I really don’t enjoy them, the process, the smell, nothing. I do it when I need to, I’m not exactly “afraid” of it, it’s just really uncomfortable and I have to look the other way or risk passing out. I also get flushed, hot and physically nauseated. Why do I want to do it? Because I can. Because anyone can. And we all should. It’s the right thing to do, even if it’s a pain in the patootie to set up for me apparently.
Speaking of small phobias, I am not a big fan of heights. Yet somehow this year I’m going to find a way to go on a zipline and rappel down a wall. Not City Hall like that whackjob friend Daniel (!!!!), but something small and preferably non-lethal. I’m a big guy, I have reason to worry about rope strength. But I’ll do it. There’s an eco-park near Lake Erie that seems like a potential candidate, and another in New York State that I like too. Generally speaking, they are parks that have other things I like, with trips/treks that happen to include a small zipline and a small rappel wall, without it being an opportunity to do 140 kms an hour over an open pit.
The last bucket list item is also a bit unnerving. I don’t know if I can do it with high blood pressure, have to check on that first, but I want to do a polar plunge. A way to cap off the year, perhaps, and to launch next year. Stay tuned!
Okay, so I’ve talked about my bucket list, and most of my ongoing stuff. Let me look at my notes…nope, nothing else to delay my addressing my embarrassing area. So here goes.
I’m a couch potato. A big fat, slowly deteriorating, muscle atrophying lump of mashed potatoes. I can wax and wane eloquently about the psychological issues that tie into the laziness, but even I am sick of looking at them. I know what they are, I know most of them are scripts, and that I regularly have squirrels running around my head about them. No offense to animal lovers, but I’m going to drown some of those squirrels this year. Commit to the quest! Death to squirrels!
So, what does that mean? A series of small goals that I’m not going to rationalize, I’m just going to commmit:
- Push-ups – I’m committing to 5000 push-ups. Not a lot for a whole year, but it’s 5000 more than I did last year;
- Lunges – I’ll be doing the low-impact versions as I’m worried about my knee joints for the long-term, and while it isn’t an impressive number, 2000 is more than I did last year;
- Sit-ups / crunches – Another 2000;
- Back yoga extensions – Another 5000 commitment; and,
- Back upright row – Another 2000 commitment.
Those together constitute one very large “red commitment” I’m grouping as just “exercises”. I’m hoping the Seinfeld method will keep me on track, but I’m also fully expecting that this will be the hardest for me to complete. I’ve already broken my chain on this one this week.
I’m also committing to a second action commitment, one that I have no idea yet how to operationalize effectively. I need something relatively low-impact, like walking, and I want it quantifiable. I’m limiting myself to a small commitment, just 100km for the year, but again, it’s 100km more than I did last year.
As I said, I’m embarrassed that I have to commit to them to do them, and I’m equally embarrassed the commitment has to be so small. But I guess I have to start somewhere. Commit to the quest, and let the quest commit to me.
Which brings me to the end of my goals. I’ve talked about big commitments, bucket list items, and my ongoing stuff. That only leaves two things — figuring out an effective way to track and monitor progress, and to actually do the work.
Onward, my quest awaits!