Tuesday, September 8, 2009

iPod Intervention

First, I am sorry that my weekly blog entries stopped without notice or explanation. I have recently started the journey back from the land of I Should Know Better; more on that later.

Along with my doing something I knew I shouldn’t mid-July to the beginning of September are always very intense times in our offices. The fiscal year is closing, the final performance numbers for our adult education programs come in for the year, we’re pushing to get fall marketing started and we find out what the budget for the next fiscal year is going to look like. This year the forces of lower revenues due to lack luster attendance, a re-alignment of the budget priorities of the university and some projects that grossly exceeded their deadlines and budget all combined to create a perfect storm. In the midst of which, I began to hate my job.

I chose the word hate with a full grasp of its true meaning. As the summer wore on the things I enjoyed about my job slowly eroded away. I found myself stuck in the milieu of a project that seemed destined to drag on for eternity. Getting students into our classes was like up-rooting trees, by hand. Finally, we were given the news that there would be no raises, even for those who were found to have exceeded their measurable targets for the year. However, a small one-time bonus would be awarded to employees making under a certain amount a year (it smarts to even type that). So pretty much the message is “your performance doesn’t matter.” I found myself sitting at my desk wondering why I spent my summer pouring my life into this job and driving my team to do the same.

Then came an unexpected intervention from an unlikely source, my iPod. I was driving to my parent’s farm to help my mother set up a Facebook account. I had my iPod on “shuffle” and was just letting it roam through the songs without skipping forward (as I usually do.) Out of some dark corner this song popped up:

Look, I know it’s dorky and cheesy and it has been played ad nauseum at senior talent shows while power points slides with pictures of all the seniors as babies rolled by with star-wipe transitions, but hear me out. I sort-of listened to it. Then this morning I was jogging and it popped up again.

This time I listened. And yes, while I must again admit that the song is cheesy it lead me to a realization: hating my job is my problem. Holy crap! I realized I had broken one of my own rules: work is what you do after you take care of all the important stuff. What’s the important stuff? For me the list is pretty short:
1. Not waking up to an alarm clock
2. Getting in my daily exercise (jogging and weight lifting)
3. Don’t sweat the small stuff (everything at work is small stuff) and don’t pet the sweaty stuff
4. Eating right
5. Being there for the people who are important to me

I used to hold that list in a sacred position in my life. On Tuesday and Thursday mornings I went to the gym before going to work, if that meant I couldn’t make a morning meeting, so-be-it. I didn’t sweat the small stuff (and everything at work is small). That’s not to say that I didn’t care about my job or want to do good work. I tried my hardest and then accepted that the results of that effort may be affected by forces beyond my control. I did not let work stress me out. I ate right and I was there for the people who are important to me.

However, starting in January of this year I slowly started to let go of items on my list and by default, they were replaced with other work related items. In the end, I was expecting the same reward I get from taking care of myself first and work later. Instead the reward for that switch in priorities was nothing that ultimately matters to me.

I don’t know about you, but in my case, hating my job was my fault. I found myself seeking something I should generate internally from external sources and that will always leave one thirsty.

Do you have a list? Are you making the things that are truly rewarding to you a priority?

1 comment:

  1. I have to agree, sometimes it takes a little digress to progress. The important thing is that you realize it and discover that things work out for the best, whether you want it to or not.

    I have been finding my self digressing lately and have come across the similar realization. We can (at times) let the wrong things drive us.