When In Doubt -Pivot

A picture of Maury, talkshow host, stating, "That was a Lie".


Maury: Elise Ottenfeld, you stated on October 31st that you planned to participate in NaNoWriMo. As of November 12th, we determined that was a lie.


An Ambitious Goal Isn’t Exactly a Lie

You got me. I did say I planned to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. Look, technically I have begun, and it is still November so I amĀ stillĀ participating in NaNoWriMo. Here’s my page to prove it NaNoWriMo Chemistress. It’s just that as it’s November 12th and my current word count is 500 and next week is Thanksgiving, I find the likelihood of success to be quickly diminishing. Could I still bang it out? Absolutely. I’ve dropped 10,000 word page papers in mere days when the occasion required. Will I?Again, probably not.

What’s Your Excuse?

I don’t accept excuses. I accept realignment of priorities to ensure the most important work gets done when it needs to be done. As of right now, two priorities are moving ahead. One is that we adopted a couple of cuteso puppies, and my 10 week old babies need time and attention and love so they don’t turn into misbehaved monsters. Little bit of work on the front end to save disaster on the back end. And look at them? Aren’t they adorable? Wouldn’t you want to spend time with them too?


Of course you would. Item two is that I’m dealing with a minor existential crisis. It might be the remnants of outage blues. Having worked nights for the past month on 72 hour work weeks, I’m mighty exhausted of my job and career. Generally doubting what I want to do in life. Again, maybe it’s just blues, seasonal affective you might call it. It also just might be time. That time where I’ve been too long and gotten to comfortable and now it’s time to break everything apart to grow again.

“Tell me, Mr. Kemp, just why are you leaving St. Louis, where your family has lived for generations and where you could, for the asking, have a niche carved out for yourself and your children so that you might live in peace and security for the rest of you well-fed days?”
“Well you see, I….ah…well, I get a strange feeling. I….ah…I sit around here and I look at this place and I just want to get out, you know? I want to flee.”
-The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson

Like that. As a chastise myself, this isn’t a very mature or productive means of dealing with boredom, so eventually I’ll have to quit uprooting everything to start a new life. Then again, maybe not.

Don’t Stop Working, Just Pivot

Whether or not I need to disrupt everything in my life to start afresh remains to be seen, but I certainly know I won’t be finishing a novel this month. Even so, I’m a person that likes to be productive. I crave it. And in the midst of existential crisis when I know I’m not going to work on the project I want to work on, I turn to the project I can work on. I pivot.

In a traditional sense, pivot means to turn. In a business sense, it means to realign resources, focus, activities, etc. In this instance, I know I’m not going to be good at doing anything mental, so I’l focus on physical instead. Pivoting is a good way to maintain energy. If I were to give up and lay around binging Netflix or something, I could very easily get in a rut where I don’t want to do anything so I don’t do anything. The not-doing-anything stretches on and on and in six months I wake up a lethargic slug. I don’t want that, so for now I’ll run. I’ll run until it makes me so sick, tired and bored of physical activity that I’d dying to go back and use my brain.

Pivoting doesn’t always have to be mental versus physical. At work I flip flop between projects. When one runs aground, I pivot to another that is making progress. In this way I’m always moving ahead on something and don’t get too board or frustrated when one specific project isn’t working out.

So What’d You Pivot To?

One of my benchmarks of health is how readily I feel to get up and run a 5K. Maybe I won’t run a great 5K, but as long as I feel comfortable to get up and do it at any point in time, I feel like I can’t have strayed too far in my physical fitness. That’s all well and good, but it means I haven’t really strived for much improvement over the years. And as my 30th birthday approaches, I’d like to try for something I’ve never done before -a 10K. Unlike the 5K which I’ve maintained comfortably since being a high school soccer player, I’ll actually have to put forward some effort to train for this. I’ve got a program to follow this winter and in March we’ll see how I do at the Wine 10K this March in Birmingham. I’ll keep working on my book as I can, but for now the strict goals will live elsewhere.

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