Reality Now Sucks, and is also Just Different

It’s 5am. It is OK to hate reality. You know you want to. Go ahead. I grant thee permission.

Oh, you’re right: the other half of the blog post title represents a more stoic and less detached approach to life, and while, on a good day, y’might resolve to this state, you’re likely to have an initial set of cortisol-driven, fear-based reactions.

And I say: embrace it …for a bit …because you’re human and this is part of the experience …and you only live twice. (#YOLT)

This isn’t a post about how an emotionally mature way to handle change we don’t at first like is to recall Bill Belichick’s, “it is what it is”.

This isn’t a post about how it is more spiritually sustainable to remove outcome from life events, and to go with the flow.

This isn’t even a post about allowing yourself to feel emotions (even though that’s how I’m starting all this).

It is about how the title is “Reality Now Sucks, AND is also Just Different”, and not “Reality Now Sucks, BUT is also Just Different”.

The first half represents an analysis, and an emotionally negative judgement. An emotional journey has started. You’re likely to continue on that path …for a bit.

The second half represents an analysis, and an emotionally neutral judgement. An emotional journey has not started. You still have better access to your pre-frontal cortex for coming up with what to do about this new reality.

As you acknowledge reality, it’s fair to say that if you’re experiencing the title’s first half (“this sucks”), at that very moment, you’re not experiencing the title’s second half (“this is just different”) at the same time. It’ll probably take a bit before you get there: the anger leaves your body, and a drive to action emerges.

Reality both sucks AND is also just different not because they happen in parallel, and not because they happen serially: in my experience, we will bounce back and forth between feeling some form of fear and feeling some drive to action.

Why am I writing about this?

Two posts ago, I talked about having morning and evening routines, based on my energy and self-discipline levels, and how I’m trying this out. What have I learned?

I essentially don’t have an evening routine, because upon honest self-retrospection, I honestly get jack done in the evening.

Reality sucks.

I don’t like how I’m sooooo not up for doing anything productive in the evening.

I don’t like how if I check CNN or Reddit during my morning routine, it enter a rabbit hole that shoots up that part of my day, too.

I don’t like how if I mess around online, I have fewer slots of time through the day to play catch up and attend to personal projects (like this blog) than before because I have a 2-year-old in my life, who I love and want to enjoy time with.

It is 5am, and I’m waking up as our building’s paid service to clear paths in the 18 inches of snow from Thursday is wrapping up (that guy must’ve been working through the night…), waking up to make some progress on my personal projects. Progress of which I am not seeing enough (like how the beginning of this paragraph is already a week old).

Reality sucks.

Reality is also just different.

My energy profile through the day (and its consistency through the week) is different. It’s going to be this way for a while. This is what I have to work with. Maybe I shouldn’t fight it. Maybe it’s counterproductive to do so.

I may always want to know what’s going on, so checking news sites may always be a temptation. Maybe I can work on personal projects for a bit before I see what’s going on in the world… maybe as a reward. Also, maybe the stuff I’m working on in the morning can be more exciting and fulfilling than wanting to know if there is suddenly… an ICO for AR AI drones. I know, this makes no sense. But it could. This morning.

The time I have to work on personal projects has been better defined. The fact that this is now less time than my pre-kid era is just different. This is what I have to work with. Maybe I shouldn’t fight it. Maybe it’s counterproductive to do so. As a result, I’m setting better boundaries between life & work. I’m better owning my weekly (13 30-minute 1-1 meetings, every week, y’all) (“manager life”) (that sounds way way way lamer than “thug life”) so that I schedule larger chunks of uninterrupted time, being less meeting-driven and less affected by the context switching around them.

If I’m not seeing enough progress, this is different than what I had hoped: the reality in my head. Maybe I shouldn’t fight it. Maybe it’s counterproductive to do so. Maybe I can do something about this.

Reality is also just different.

Can you tell I’ve been struggling… for a bit? (And yes, I know Puerto Rico doesn’t have power… I have zeroth-world problems.)

Through an Agile lens, this oscillation between “sucks” and “different”, or more abstractly “emotion” and “action”, can be seen as iterative, where there is hopefully some improvement, or at least a hypothesis-driven experiment to learn something, that demarcates the cycles.

Heck, our natural punctuations of experiencing reality with feelings of suckage and drives to action can be seen as engaging in Scrum’s Retrospective: you start a Retrospective by gathering data, which is sometime emotional, and you end it with items of improvement you want to try out.

Hot diggity dog. This blog post title now describes mental states at either end of a Retrospective. In the middle, like in our daily lives when we’re not geekily applying the Scrum framework, there is space to acknowledge emotion (opportunity for empathy), space for time to pass (raw emotions leaving system), and space to shift mental states (‘solutioning’, as the biz kids say).

So, because I want to move onto other things, what did we, I mean I, learn here?

Reality now sucks, and is also just different, because we bounce between these two mindsets, demarcating a natural iteration, the boundaries of which are opportunities for improvement, which echoes what happens in a Retrospective, itself a Scrum event at the boundary of iterations.

Great. Ship it. Let’s press ‘Publish’. I’m tired of hating reality. It’s 7am.