It has been a tumultuous couple of months. In early July I drove from California to Southeast Michigan and then got on a plane to New York City. Shortly after arriving in NYC I started my dream job. A couple weeks into that job, while still living in a sublet in a city I barely knew, I travelled internationally for a week with some colleagues. The day we returned, along with the rest of the company, we were laid off. Every day for approximately the next month I split my time between cold emailing people at companies I wanted to work for, having coffee with more people than I can remember, doing countless interviews, and working full-time on an organizational design project as a freelance consultant with a Fortune 100 company. Like I said, crazy times.
Finally, finally, finally it looks like those crazy times are coming to an end.
Last week I started work as the first employee at a new organizational design consulting firm called The Ready. I love it. I love what we’re doing and I love that I can finally pull in the reigns of my time and attention to focus on one thing. I’m finally getting an opportunity to catch my breath, buy some furniture for my apartment, take stock of what's working and what's not and, most importantly, regain some focus.
Somewhat understandably, I think, I had been letting some things slide while moving to a new city, starting a new job, losing that job, working as a freelancer, and then finding a new job dominated my attention. My PhD work has sputtered along with nary a substantive sentence or p-value calculated since the middle of the summer. My physical fitness and meditation practice — both aspects of my life I value and know play a huge role in keeping me grounded and feeling halfway decent about myself — have mostly laid dormant. My website, as you may have noticed, has mostly gone quiet as well. My monthly newsletter sits untouched and averaging a decidedly un-monthly release record.
I think focusing on a limited number of activities and truly diving into them as deeply as possible is the only way to do something that matters. In the past, I’ve counteracted this belief with my own skills in being productive and organized. Because I’m good (usually) at self-managing I’ve always taken on a bit more than I can comfortably chew. This time around, though, I need to truly take some of my own medicine. I’ve met my match productivity-wise. I’m simply trying to do too much and worst of all…
I can feel my PhD momentum slipping away.
I’ve always told myself that I wouldn’t be one of “those” people who gets ¾ of the way through a PhD, gets a job, and suddenly gets completely stuck on making any academic progress. I study self-management for God’s sake — how sad would it be if I couldn’t self-manage myself into a completed degree? The past couple months have shown me how this happens, though. Just keeping my life moving in the right direction and my head above water required me to set my PhD progress aside. Not a huge problem in itself, but I’ve realized that every day my PhD work stays on the shelf it becomes even harder to get back into it. The guilt builds to the point where it feels like not only do I need to get started on it again but I need to make sure the next time I sit down and work on it I knock a serious chunk of it out. But… that sounds time intensive. And tiring. And I don’t have time and I don’t have the energy. So, it continues to sit and get scarier and scarier.
I refuse to let this happen. I have spent too much time and too much money (sunk costs, I know, I know) to let this fall apart. More important than the time or money, though, is that I’m sticking my foot into an area of research that I think truly matters. Organizations are changing rapidly, the future of work is going to be crazy, and I’m doing research that will help people and organizations be better.
So, here’s the plan:
SamSpurlin.com, TheWorkologist.com, The Workologist Newsletter, and my personal coaching practice are all going on indefinite hiatus.
I’m officially releasing myself from the expectation of maintaining these sites or businesses. I mean, I haven’t been writing anyway but I’ve basically felt consistently bad about it since about June. That ends today. TheWorkologist.com archive will stay up and if I’m moved to write something at any point in the future I will do so but for now The Workologist and the newsletter are indefinitely paused.
I can already tell that there is a weight off my shoulders by making this decision. This is one small step that allows me to focus a little bit more. I won't have to feel badly when I'm working on my PhD work because I'm also neglecting this website. My capacity to feel bad and do good work can only be pushed so far. I’ll revisit this decision in a couple months once I see what kind of progress I’m making on my degree.
You can still find me on Twitter, Instagram, and on my nearly weekly podcast I do with my buddy Eric, The File Drawer. Keep an eye on TheReady.com as well because it’s likely that will be evolving with my input.
It has been a wild ride! Here's to a newfound focus and to finishing this damn degree!