Wednesday, September 26, 2012

9 to 5 (Quotable Bits #16)

“Choose a job you love, 
and you will never have to work a day in your life.
~ Confucius

I have always loved working.  I like my brain to be challenged…I like being creative…I like starting a project and seeing it all the way through to the end.

But sometimes…I wonder if it’s really worth it.

My job can be stressful and frustrating. And I never truly get away from it as I am tethered to my work email through a company issued smartphone. And even if I wasn’t I can never manage to stop thinking about work completely anyway.  

this is definitely glass half empty...
There are times where my works is rewarding but I am finding that as I get older – the demands are greater and the rewards are fewer.  And by rewards I’m not just talking about money – although that’s obviously an important factor. 

I’m talking about a feeling of accomplishment. Feeling like what I do is worth the time away from my kids. I’m talking about getting the occasional pat on the back for a job well done.

Maybe I am expecting too much.  Of myself, of my job, of my colleagues and my supervisors.  Or maybe this is today’s reality.

My friends and I all talk about being in the same boat.  The expectation of being reachable 24/7, working nights and weekend without compensation and that even if you are on vacation – you need to be sure to check your email once in a while.

When my family and I went to Disneyland in February I didn’t bother to take my phone because I couldn’t afford to buy a travel package for the US. And it was the best vacation EVER because I wasn’t constantly looking at my phone. 

My oldest daughter even commented on how nice it was that I didn’t have my phone with me when we were eating.  I was effectively unplugged.  Unconnected to my work life.

And you know what?  My office didn’t fall apart.  Projects moved forward. Decisions were made without me.  Life moved on.

We all like the thought that we are indispensable…and we are in many areas. To our kids, our spouses, our family maybe…but not in the workplace.

It all comes down the choices we make.  I can choose not to have my phone on the table.  I can choose to say no, to acknowledge my own limitations. I can choose to see my glass as half full.

Me...back when I was a young marketing wannabe...and not yet jaded.
Because – let’s face it – in the scheme of things everything I complain out is quite inconsequential. I’m not curing cancer. I’m not changing the world.

I got a nice dose of perspective on Monday when my friend and I were returning to work after lunch.  We had spent most of our lunch talking about our work challenges and feeling pretty damn sorry for ourselves.  And then we noticed the police cars and the fact that the other lanes of the bridge had no traffic.  We saw the police officers slowly walking towards the same spot on the bridge.

And then we saw her.  A young woman sitting on the outside railing…feet dangling over the edge. 

She looked young.  And I wondered what led her to be in that place?  What had happened in her life that made her feel that was her only option? 

I don’t know the answer to those questions.  And I don’t know if she actually decided to jump.

But I am fairly certain that the reason she was there had nothing to do with a job that expected her to be reachable outside of office hours.

Perspective. Every once and a while it’s good to have that smack you in the face.

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