Eating the elephant isn't a new phrase. It's been around a while, but platitudes rarely make sense until they directly apply to a personal situation. I can say I ate an elephant from 2013 to 2015 when I earned my MBA from Western Governors University. Here's my latest meal that forced me to realize what's truly important.
My Busy Life
The beginning of February to the end of May is by far the busiest time of my year. I have softball on multiple levels. High school and collegiate softball consist of not only working games but also training umpires before assigning games to said umpires. The biggest drag on my time is assigning high school umpires to games.
Assigning is more than just clicking a couple of buttons and sending emails. It's fielding phone call after phone call after email after text. It's dealing with people who don't know how to keep a schedule and manage time. It's dealing with athletic directors and secretaries who have no concept of the real world.
Add to that creating invoices, adjusting invoices, chasing down government employees to write checks, then paying the umpires who are whiny, tired, and sore. Add to that administering an ever-evolving database, and I'm thankful for June 1.
Suffering For The Future
I made the decision to finally apply myself and learn to code. I tried before and couldn't cut it. Several factors led to my failure, but the key point is I wasn't ready. In November 2016, I decided I was prepared to slog through the course at CareerFoundry and finally become a developer.
This choice made my elephant a WHOLE LOT BIGGER. This has been even more difficult than getting my MBA. I know how to do research and write papers. I know how to learn business concepts. Until this month, I had no idea what it mean to become a developer.
Coding is by far and away the most difficult thing I've ever done. Being an umpire is hard, but it's nothing like this. Learning an entirely new vocabulary and practically applying it to solve real world problems in six months to a viable proficiency level is a mind-numbing task. It made me realize why the world is so desperate for coders. THIS IS HAAAARDDDD!
Eating The Important Parts
So I learned to prioritize and compartmentalize. I could tackle tasks in small chunks by doing a little each day on several things. I wasn't going to become a developer in six days. It takes time. I can't assign every game in one day. No one is that reliable. I can't work all my games in one week. I'm not that young anymore.
I became content with small bits of progress on several things at once. I did enough each day to let myself feel like I learned a little, I filled enough games for the next couple days, and I created three or four invoices so that tomorrow I had that many fewer to send. I look back after a week's work, and I'm satisfied with my results. Perspective is great like that.
Along the way, I figured out what really matters: That I'm happy with my daily accomplishments and available to spend time with my granddaughter.
Nothing gets fixed all at once. I can't do everything for everyone anymore. I'm cutting back on sports. Not sure how yet. I have to finish the season, but I know the future will be different. I'm cutting out the worthless wallet-draining stuff that helps plenty of others except me.
It perfectly ok to do this. At this stage of my life, I don't owe anything to anyone anymore. My kids are grown and gone. My wife just wants help with the dishes, the laundry, and to snuggle a little at the end of the day. Soon, my elephant will be much more manageable. And I'm fine with that.