• Whitney

Coming up for air


Every time a proposal process comes to an end, there's a bit of a release. Weeks, months, of hard work finally peaking in the most anti-climactic physicality - clicking a button.

I'd been expecting to start work on this proposal in December 2018. January at the latest. But then the government got shutdown, and instead I sat around for a solid six weeks, not starting work on one of my biggest annual projects until mid-March. Mentally, I've been with it since November last year. A solid five months later, we wrapped things up.

As always, the past two weeks have been rough. Getting a proposal across the finish line is no light feat. Two week ago we didn't have a final budget. We were still finalizing partnerships. We didn't have performance targets. I mean, that's normal, but it's a lot of work to get done in two weeks. It's a lot of decisions to make.

Decision fatigue is real y'all.

I'd come home from the office (something I hate to begin with - hashtag work from home pls) after a day of meetings and literally want to do nothing. To think nothing. After a decade of this kind of work, I'm familiar. I don't love it though. I don't work well on no sleep. I don't work well on high anxiety. My body (thanks aging) literally starts to collapse if I spend too much time sitting in chairs in a conference room. Lord I'm high maintenance.

So this time around, I tried to make the process of submission feel different. I wanted a different physical experience.

To give you a taste - this was my submission day schedule:

7:00 - wake up, shower, skincare

7:30 - breakfast

7:45 - sit down with a budget narrative, read and annotate the whole thing

9:45 - skype proposal coordinator to let her know the narrative was ready for her

10:00 - Reformer pilates with Ellen

11:15 - second shower, skincare, make-up

11:45 - lunch + formatting letters of support

12:00 - head in to the office

1:00 - finish formatting the rest of the annexes

3:00 - format final budget for submission

3:30 - final read through of budget narrative

4:30 - realize I forgot an annex (thanks coordinator!) and format those two too

5:00 - click that submit button

5:05 - let proposal team know about submission, high fives all around

5:08 - say goodnight to proposal coordinator (she's off for a relaxing evening)

5:10 - recap next steps and say goodnight to BD director

5:15 - head home

5:45 - walk the dog

6:15 - dinner and a celebratory milkshake, plus an episode of The Good Place

7:30 - relaxing Epsom salt bath (also ibuprofen because back pain)

8:00 - walk the dog take 2

9:00 - in bed with a book

In the past, that day would look way more chaotic. I'd be up early because anxiety wouldn't let me sleep. I'd be in the office immediately. I'd probably be skipping at least one meal out of stress. I would NEVER make time to work out. I'd be setting that exact example for my team mates, who'd be similarly stressed and sleep deprived.

Are all submission days going to look like this, going forward?

Probably not. Most won't be nearly as prepared. Most will probably be more stressful. But I liked this. I liked it a lot. And I like it enough that I'm going to try for it.

Self care isn't a thing you get to do once and forget. It's work. But I'm up for it.

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