Fooling Yourself

You’re fooling yourself if you don’t believe it
You’re killing yourself if you don’t believe it
Get up, get back on your feet
You’re the one they can’t beat and you know it
Come on, let’s see what you’ve got
Just take your best shot and don’t blow it


– from the song “Fooling Yourself (Angry Young Man)” by Tommy Shaw (Styx)

It’s April 1st, 2019 and rather than doing yet another April Fool’s joke, I thought I’d share something with you. A lot of you have been asking about what I’ve been doing and the time has come to share what’s next for me and my life. And no, I’m not becoming a long-haul trucker (which was one of the rumors started in the past month, LOL).

Three weeks ago today, I started a new journey. For those of you that don’t know me, I’ve been in the computer industry for 30 years. I’ve spent the last 10 years in IT management; prior to that, I was doing full-time programming for 20 years. I was at a great company (Blackboard) for 10 years through the beginning of 2018, and found myself wanting a change. So, I accepted a similar position at another great company (NextGear Capital) in early 2018, thinking that if I had the same job in a different place, that would make me happy.

I was wrong.

After several months at NextGear, it became apparent to me that something else was wrong with me. The people were great and overall the job was great, but I was still unhappy with where I was in life. In August of 2018, my company sent me to Atlanta to perform some comedy at their Agile Open conference. It was a huge success. So much so, in fact, that one person recorded that video and shared it on LinkedIn and it became somewhat of a viral video in a very short time. It was shared and re-shared over a quarter of a million times. My LinkedIn inbox was flooded with show requests and I found myself thinking… “what am I doing?”

I remember struggling with going to work after that. I guess it became something that bugged me a lot. Why was I continuing to do this management job when I’ve always wanted to do so much else? After all, I turned 53 in December and I’m not getting younger. It’s not like I have another half of my career left. And, time has not traditionally been on my side. My father passed away at 54. His father – my grandfather – also passed away at 54. Recently I went to the funeral of someone who passed away at the tender young age of 55. I found myself wondering – do I really want to do this for the rest of my life?

No.

A friend of mine suggested I take a test that recruiters often use. This was called a Predictive Index test and while I’ve done other personality tests before, I had never seen anything like this. The first page of the test asked me to put a check mark next to each word that described what I do in my daily activities in my vocation. The second page asked me to put a check mark next to each word that described me as a person and what I like to do. The results were amazing – they were polar opposites. It hit me – perhaps the reason I am unhappy is because I go to work every day doing something that I don’t really enjoy. Yes, I was successful at it for a long time but it wasn’t really me. Or, at least, it didn’t fulfill me the way I wanted to be fulfilled. Then it hit me:

I have to change.

Yuck. Change. I don’t like change. I’m a creature of habit. I get the same clothes, the same shoes, the same food etc all the time. For me, change doesn’t come naturally. I have to have a reason. I have to have someone pushing me. I have to have accountability. And, much to my surprise, that’s where the next major development happened in this journey. A person who is a life coach (Stefanie Krievins) saw my LinkedIn video and she asked if I did that full-time. I said no. She said we should talk. So we had breakfast the next week and I agreed to sign up for a six-month engagement whereby I would learn what I really wanted to do with my life. I needed to dig deep. I needed a plan.

We started meeting on December 12th – the day before my 53rd birthday – and talked about my goals. My health and weight have long been an issue for me, so that was goal number one – to get my health back on track. I’ve been yo-yo dieting for most of my adult life and let’s face it – it’s hard to have a new set of goals if you’re not alive to pursue them. My second goal was to spend more time writing. I’ve been a writer most of my life and have written 4 technical books, 2 plays and countless other short dramas, skits, stories and poems… but I have never taken it seriously enough to make a career of it. I believed that I could somehow become a full-time writer while being involved in a half dozen things and being very socially active and writing once in a while.

I am a fool.

It became apparent to me very quickly that I was my own worst enemy. Stefanie asked me how many writing projects I had started but not finished. I came up with 15. Since our first meeting, I’ve realized the problem is much worse – I’ve got at least 15 more that I didn’t realize I had until I started digging into all the notes I’ve written over the years. Yes, I had managed to write a lot in my spare time, but the one thing I’ve wanted to be for so long – a writer – was getting put on the back burner time and time again. It became a “if time permits” activity, and time never permitted. Well, rather, I never allocated the time for writing. After all, I am the one who is in control of my schedule, right? Right.

Originally, I thought I could keep my job at NextGear indefinitely and continue to do the 30 or so comedy shows that had shown up in my inbox since the Agile Open show in August. Reality check. Duh. That was impossible. These are shows all over the country. How could I keep doing a good job as a manager if I was travelling all over doing shows? I could possibly just quit and do the shows, but that would be sporadic. There’s also the fact that I would need health insurance. Then, out of the blue, a former coworker called me and told me about a work-from-home opportunity. It would be programming – which is fine, as I’ve done that for 2/3 of my career – but more importantly it would mean that I would have steady income, health insurance, and not have such as high-profile job.

Bingo.

After talking with some other friends who work with the company (Valley Ag Software), it became apparent to me that this was a perfect opportunity. The hours are flexible, the insurance/benefits are great, and I could work from home – or anywhere for that matter. And, it would be far less hours/pressure than my previous positions. This, plus cutting out some of my other commitments, would free up more time for me to write. The hard part would be dedicating hours of my days/weeks/months to writing instead of doing other things. This meant that not only would I have to change my schedule, but I would have to back away from some things. I’d have to say – gasp…

No.

That’s a hard word for me to say. I’m a people-pleaser. I don’t like to let people down. I don’t like to say no. I like to have my cake and eat it too. However, I have come to realize that whenever I say yes to something – I’m saying no to something else. The things I’ve said no to are things that are too important to me, and I need to start saying no to other things and saying yes to the things I really want to do. Long story short, that’s exactly what I’m doing.

In the three weeks since beginning this new venture, I’ve been able to finish – yes, finish – four short stories that I’ve been wanting to finish for the past decade or so. I feel like I’ve renewed my creativity and I feel more alive and productive than I have felt in over a decade. I feel like I’m on the verge of something great, and it’s only just begun. I’ve got a play that I co-wrote called Another Mulligan, and it’s going to be produced for the Indy Fringe Festival from August 15th – 25th. I’m putting the short stories I’m writing into a book that I’m tentatively calling Bedtime Stories Volume 1. And, I’m finally getting back to a novel I started a few years ago called The Steeplewood Chase. And now, let me ask you a question.

Are you fooling yourself?

Let me put it this way: if you could quit your job today and be anything, what would that be? If you could do anything, what would you do? What have you always wanted to do but never devoted the time to in order to see it come to pass? What gifts / dreams do you have that are on your back burner that should be put on the front burner? For me, my health, writing, and comedy goals always have taken a back seat to everything else. It’s time for that to change. Let me ask you another question.

Are you killing yourself?

I was. I truly believe I would die a quicker death if I stayed on the same path I was on. My blood pressure was astronomically high until my job change 3 weeks ago. It is still slightly elevated but nowhere near what it was. Is your job killing you? Do you dread going into work, or does your job not fulfill you? If so…

Get up, get back on your feet
You’re the one they can’t beat and you know it
Come on, let’s see what you’ve got
Just take your best shot and don’t blow it

Seriously. Don’t be a fool. If there is something you’d like to do with your life and you’re not doing it now, what are you waiting for? A goal without a plan is just a dream. What goals do you have? What’s your plan? Four months ago, I had no goals and no plan. I was just a dreamer. Now I’m a doer. And it feels good. When I was getting ready to resign my job, I ran across this great quote from Mark Twain:

For me, the last thing I want at the end of my life is to look back with regret. I don’t want to always wonder what would have happened if only I had ___________ (fill in the blank). As Mark Twain said, I would have been more disappointed by the things I didn’t do than by the things I did do. I am looking forward to writing a lot more in the coming months/years, including more blog posts like these. After you’re done reading this, check out my new site at http://lloydwork.com. And, while you’re at it, drop me a line at lloydwork@lloydwork.com. I’d love to hear from you.

So – what’s next for me? Well, I’ve got some final edits to do on Another Mulligan. I’m doing a read-through of it with my drama group on April 10th. I’ve got some classes, conferences and writing-related events on my calendar. I’ve got some short stories to finish up and a novel to finish before the end of this year. So, I’m going to be busy doing that. Don’t expect to see me as much, as I’ve got to say “no” to a lot more things if I’m saying “yes” to the things I really love to do. And, by the way… since I can work anywhere – and write anywhere – let me know if you’re up for a visit. I may just hunker down somewhere near you so we can catch up. That is, of course, when I’m not writing.

How about you? What dreams do you have that need goals and plans to achieve them? Send me a note and let me know!

About Lloyd Work

Writer. Actor. Comedian. Nerd.
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9 Responses to Fooling Yourself

  1. Mary Lou says:

    Good read and food for thought – Thanks! Excited for you and that wonderful wife you have been blessed with!

    Like

  2. Tim Riley says:

    Congratulations! Your excitement is contagious. I almost ran off and quit my job. 😀 I can feel your enthusiasm embracing this change , and look forward to hearing about your adventures.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. May you be blessed in this new adventure. Thanks for sharing this with everyone (assuming it’s not an April Fool’s joke!)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Congratulations on taking the leap!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. chrissy says:

    Great post! You definately have inspired me to move forward today. This year I’ve been putting my writing first. I havent had anything published yet but I’ve gotten rejected. That’s exciting because I’m putting myself out there in a way I haven’t done in a long time. Congrats on taking the leap!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. chrissy says:

    Congrats. I have been writing more this year and even though I have been rejected I’m happy.
    It means I’m putting myself out there. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Kris Spate says:

    This makes my heart so happy!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Stefanie says:

    Truly, you’re so AWESOME and BRAVE for doing what’s best for you and creating the life you’ve always wanted!! Way to go!

    Liked by 1 person

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