Friday, January 7, 2011

Old jobs and new goals

I was once a Red Lobster assembler.

Imagine how much damage you could do to that dress with a gallon of cocktail sauce!
Twenty-some years later, I still tell a tale or two from my time at the Lobster. I went from naive hostess, to harried cashier, to quick-tongued server in a matter of months. When short-staffed in the kitchen, the management would sometimes ask me to pick up a shift in the back-of-the-house, typically the A2 assembler.

A restaurant kitchen squeezes and pressures, but it’s not the same as being on the floor. The back-of-the-house felt like an escape. The noise of the public was far from me, and all I had to do was read the tickets, heat the occasional pasta or vegetable, and stage plates. Each dinner had its own sort of dishware, and I’d set each one in its place, a quiet line of china, waiting to be filled. Staging plates meant being ready, being able to move quickly, important if you wanted to serve food at its optimal temperature. 

During NanoWrimo, I re-learned the value of staging. Sometimes at the end of a session, I’d put a few ideas on the virtual corkboard in Scrivener. When I was really on top of my game, I’d set a specific word target for each card. The next day, rather than staring off into space and trying to channel Anne Lamott, I would just begin by opening the software and filling the plates. 

For some goals, the hardest thing to do is to get over the hump every day and begin. In other situations, it’s hard to achieve a goal because it’s overwhelming big, with lots of parts. Staging helps with all of that, by breaking things down and allowing you to begin quickly. How will you set yourself up for success in 2011? 

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