One Goal - Hundreds of Steps. How to Manage, Get Through, And Complete a Huge Goal - Architect Of Your Life

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

One Goal - Hundreds of Steps. How to Manage, Get Through, And Complete a Huge Goal


Mark and I work from home, and since we're in a smallish, three-bedroom house, we share an office. However, after two-and-a-half years of sharing the office (which personally works just fine), we're finding that the physical arrangement of the furniture no longer serves us. 

We have two big desks facing one another, and a huge computer armoire from my past life. We also have a bookshelf for my Oxford English Dictionary set, and an easel with a whiteboard.

That's quite a bit to fit in a small room. Everything feels cramped. I have to turn my body to get to either side of my desk, sidling in the small pathway between the desk and the bookshelf, or on the other side between the desk and the armoire. I cannot walk straight to my desk chair.

I have a window behind my desk that looks out into our yard and the woods behind. A lovely view, but it's behind me. I know there's cramped and stuck energy, and it's time to do something about it. The first step has been to replace the large computer armoire (which has a lot of unusable space) with a new cabinet.

Mark and I both love to create and design, so we custom-designed and home-built a cabinet for our office. Since we knew what we wanted and we could do it how we wanted, we designed for specific needs, like housing the 20-volume set of the Oxford English Dictionary, printer, modem, computer tower, etc. And, because we're talking about me, it needed to be beautiful.

So, we designed it and measured about thirty-two times. Then, we carefully picked out trim. Then, staining and two sealer coats. That's just the cabinet. The next part is going to move everything out of the existing office, including the behemoth armoire, rearrange the desks for better flow (no more sidling sideways), and then put it all back together (and hope we connect everything properly!), put books and knickknacks on the shelves, possibly put up new art work (or rearrange what is there now), empty the office closet and reorganize (as it's become a stashing area with no regard to organization).

It's a lot.

We knew it was a big project, and we tried to take into account everything we could, especially needed downtime to tear apart the office and put it back together (with so many pieces of computer equipment and peripherals, no small thing). As we're still in the midst of this project, there are times when I just want to give up. "It's not so bad the way it is now... " AND I know I will be happier, more productive, more energetic if we arrange this office differently. Here's what we have learned and what we're holding onto as we work toward this huge goal.

1. Everything takes longer than you think. We thought we would have the cabinet stained and sealed by Christmas so we could use the holidays enforced downtime to tear apart the office. Well, Christmas in and of itself was a time-consuming season, and building something from scratch took much longer than we had anticipated. We didn't even get to staining until the first weekend in January. LESSON: Don't be surprised when you don't meet your initial project goals.

2. There is prep time involved before you can even take the first step. Before we could start building it, we needed to buy materials, and then buy materials we hadn't even thought about. The actual building seemed to be about step 4, not step 2 as one might imagine. LESSON: Think about everything you need in as much detail as you can.

3. Sometimes the unexpected comes along. Because staining and sealing is somewhat messy, we placed the cabinet in the carport and took advantage of an uncharacteristic 55-degree day in January. Well, later that night, huge winds came up and knocked the cabinet over (leaving a dent in the new car on the way down). Repairs were now in order. LESSON: After the initial shock wears off, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move forward.

4. Work expands to fill the space. Since we have to move everything out the office anyway, it seemed perfect timing to repair the walls where the defunct heating system used to be. Easy-peasy... sand, paint with Kilz, paint with the wall color, and then install new baseboard and trim. Suddenly, our project got bigger. LESSON: Just because something seems like a great idea and efficient doesn't make it so. Realize you're adding to the project timeline and adjust accordingly.

5. You have to be flexible. We obviously didn't make our Christmas-New Year's deadline, and there was no sense in beating ourselves up about it. We had to make do with what we had. We tried to do as much on the cabinet and office project during the first full work week in January, with the plan on finishing everything up by the weekend. If that works out, great. If not, we'll readjust. LESSON: The more flexible you can be, the more you'll enjoy the project. Frustration will be minimized.

6. Plan as much as you can, but know at some point you have to take action. Plans are great... heck, you need them, especially if you're designing and building furniture! But you could plan to death, trying to think of everything possible before starting. Just start (especially because of #7)... LESSON: You have to actually start sometime!

7. Plans change; accept it. All sorts of things can make plans change. Unexpected variables (see #3), timelines that now need to stretch (see #1), and feature creep (see #4). If you can build margin and extra time into your original plan and timeline, be as generous as you can. And then when plans change, gracefully accept it, adjust, replan, and then go onto the next step. LESSON: If you can, just multiply your original timeline by 1.5. That helps deal with those changes.

8. Don't try to plan every single step. If you know every detail of what is involved in a project, you probably wouldn't do it. Just the cabinet is a huge project, and if we had known all the steps - all the hours it would take - the sore arms from 4 hours of staining just one coat (out of three) - we might not do it... Because when you "know" all the steps, you think it's impossible. So, you just have to trust that you can do it, and take the first step, and then the next. And so on. LESSON: Have faith that you will get this done!

"According to the laws of aerodynamics, the bumblebee can't fly either, but the bumblebee doesn't know anything about the laws of aerodynamics, so it goes ahead and flies anyway." ~ Igor Sikorsky

Source: https://www.isnare.com/?aid=1926047&ca=Business
Author:Dawn Shuler

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