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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Christmas Bells Are Ringing...IN MY HEAD! and the fourth and fifth installments

I don't know what kind of brain chemistry issue I have (I'm sure there are many), but I would like for scientists to pinpoint the one that causes insomnia and then develop a drug that allows you to function the next day without the feeling of a warm towel being wrapped around your brain. For prosperity, I will use this time to further my series on hating your job, which I have decided is too negative even for me. I think I am going to change the title to something like, "On Those Days You Hate Your Job" or "When You Kind of Don't Want to Hate Your Job" or something. Because, again, I really do love my job most days. I just have a tendency toward fatalism on the days I don't.

So here goes.

Number 4 - Focus on satisfactory, not superior performance. Use the time difference to build your new life. People often say, "I can't do anything -- I work ten hours a day!"
If you are firing yourself or expecting to be fired, your job is finding a new job. Be ethical: you owe your company the minimum you need to earn your salary." But don't be surprised if you start to accomplish more than ever and find yourself getting promoted.
Oh, I have so much to say about this one. First of all, Bransoms, in general, are incapable of "focusing on satisfactory, not superior performance". No. I'm sorry. I don't do that. If I am escorted out by security and have to start shoveling dog poop for a living, I will be the best damn poop shoveler in the land. That's just who we are. I would never strive for less than superior performance no matter how much I hated my job.
It reminds me of that Biblical parable that I also struggle with. You know the one. Some of the servants work their butts off all day, some half the day, and some the last part of the day, and they all get paid the same? I still don't understand that. I've heard many sermons, read many scholarly articles, consulted the footnotes of my study Bible...sorry. Just don't get it. Not fair. I guess consult my previous blog on fairness.
I do agree that if you are going to quit your job, you owe it to your company to work hard until the bitter end, and you should ALWAYS have another job lined up. I don't say this out of self righteous indignation, but out of personal experience. I used to work for Michael Scott's evil twin (The Office people, try to keep up). He shall remain nameless here in my blog, because he is a small, pathetic, disgrace of a man, who would absolutely, without a doubt, hire a team of lawyers and sue me for slander or libel or defamation of character. So, we will call him The Turd.
The Turd was the textbook worst boss on earth. His only skill was in hiring people, because the team of folks he has managed to assemble over the years is the only possible explanation for his success. The Turd called pointless weekly meetings that began at 7:00 am. The Turd made everyone where photo name badges, even though there were only eight of us in the building. The Turd would stick his nose in on employee lunch conversations and then when we would inevitably quit talking about whatever we were discussing he would send out a company wide e-mail banning employees from "being friends". The Turd micromanaged everything that happened in the building and could not allow anyone to have knowledge or possess skills that he himself did not. But worst of all, The Turd would hire people on pay structures that he didn't understand, which he would then change mid-stream. For example, he hired me on the basis of profit sharing, which I learned three months into the job he thought meant quote accuracy.
Profit = Revenue - Cost for anyone else confused by this concept. Sheesh.
So, anyway, after six months of dealing with The Turd, I had finally had enough. His ridiculous micromanaging got out of control, I told him so, and he sent me home that day. Sent ME home. ME!!! So the next day....
I went Jerry McGuire all up in that b*(&$.
The fish are coming with me. Fish have manners.
While sticking it to The Turd and leaving him to waffle and struggle to find someone else to do my job in a pinch felt good on the twenty minute car ride home, the thrill quickly waned and I realized I was unemployed. And, since I quit rather then letting myself be fired (which was inevitable in that workplace), I couldn't even draw unemployment.
In hindsight, I should have just put up with The Turd for a few more weeks until I found something else. Luckily it all worked out. I started up my freelance business, which kept me afloat, until I started the job I have now, which 95% of the time I love.
Number 5 - What conflict are you escaping? Dishonesty? Corporate greed? Hypocrisy? Allow yourself to wonder if these qualities are mirrored in your own life -- or even in your mind. If everyone around you seems dishonest, are you being dishonest with yourself? With others? After you resolve your own conflict, you may find the workplace has changed or you have been catapulted into a new, more satisfying life.
I think my biggest conflict at my job I have now is frustration over some people's laziness and lack of motivation and indecisiveness. I work with all good people, but some of them are content with "satisfactory performance" and that pisses me off, because I don't. Although, now that I think about it, the Ph.D. who wrote this delightful little article on hating your job may actually be on to something. I am a perfectionist. A perfectionist to the point of dysfunction. My dad always says to only hold people to the standard to which you hold yourself. Maybe mine are a little too high. I know I am always falling short of my own standards, which is a source of great stress and anxiety for me. So, I guess it follows that if I hold my co-workers to the same unrealistic, unattainable standards that I hold myself, stress, anxiety, and disappointment are inevitable. Hmmmmm......
Any thoughts?

Monday, November 24, 2008

When You Really Hate Your Job Series - Third Installment

Number 3 - Think of developing skills, not serving time. Take every course that's offered and focus on skills that can lay a foundation for your own business or next job. Can you learn HTML or PowerPoint? Can you use some evenings, weekends and lunch hours to solicit some free lance gigs?

I really like this one, because it is exactly what I did at my last job that I HATED. I tried to think of things about my brain that were worth developing (i.e. my interest in serial killers, probably not so much). I really like logic problems and puzzles and riddles. Programming was a small part of my web design degree (okay, yeah, it should have been all of my web design degree, but whatever), so I decided to expand on that. I taught myself ASP.NET and SQL Server and started doing little web development jobs here and there. It blossomed into a pretty decent freelance business, which I always have to fall back on. It also enriched my skills for the job I have now.

Anybody have any hobbies or crafts or skills they could develop? Do it!!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

When You Really Hate Your Job Series - Second Installment

This is the second installment in my series "When You Really Hate Your Job". First I would like to respond to the comments left on my last post.

Firstly, Ty, these postings are absolutely directed at you and everyone else that we know, ahum ahum, that is stuck in a job they hate OR has quit a job they hate. Unlike the Fairy Godmother, I lack the ability to proactively solve problems; I can only complain to anyone who will listen! It would seem that the Turkey Extravaganza on Saturday is reserved for those who are either Employmently Challenged or too heavily medicated to care, so your attendance is required.

Secondly, Ashley, writing has been both a life long hobby that I adore AND something in which I have training. My passion started before I was even able to write and manifested itself in two ways that I remember. The first was when I was still in the Crayola stage of expression and I colored a picture of a cemetery. I then proceeded to make my poor mother (Mom, do you even remember this?) write out the story that I had concocted onto my little work of art. I guess I just wanted to see the words on the page, even though I was too little to read them.

The second way my passion manifested itself at an early age was on the front porch of my family's cabin in the Daniel Boone National Forest. I would force my poor family to endure these long, erratic, incomprehensible stories, which would sometimes require us all to break for lunch, before returning for a finale that never came. I am happy to say that my niece, Little Ann, has inherited this ability for the spoken word. It seems that everyone thinks it's cuter when she does it, but whatever.

In elementary school I continued my writing career and was the recipient of the Young Author's Award in the first grade for my epic tale, "The Little Green Woman." While I did not win the Young Author's Award in the fifth grade for my book "Star," it did precipitate a call home from my teacher who was concerned about the content, which consisted of a young girl being abused by her alcoholic father before running away to live in the woods. Sorry, Dad. lol

I was a creative writing major in the School for the Creative and Performing Arts in high school, and was active in the Poetry Slam Community. For those of you who are not familiar with poetry slamming, it is an artform that allowed beatniks and hippies and otherwise inspired writers to express their political, social, and religious views through the spoken word. It has since been hijacked by a bunch of angst-filled, whiny teenagers who want to make adults uncomfortable with foul language and a mysterious Brooklyn accent that only crops up at these events. I don't know. Guilty as charged.

I was an English major in college and received my Bachelor's Degree in English literature. I had my station in life clarified for me by one of my favorite professors during an Adolescent Literature class. She said, "I see that you all have self segregated. Education majors on this side of the room; English majors on this side of the room. It's just as well. Here are the people who will one day nurture the minds of children, and here are the people who will one day corrupt them."

I have nearly had the love for creative writing crushed out of me by over exposure to dead white sonneteers and professional writing, but I still maintain my love. I have two very special grandmothers to thank for that. My mom's mother, Thelma, was a teacher in a one room school house and taught my sister and me the love of reading and an appreciation for different dialects and ways of speaking. My dad's mother, Dot, was a master story teller and used to thrill and terrify us with ghost stories. She caused a scandal at my elementary school when she was invited to tell ghost stories at Halloween and, gasp!, they were ACTUALLY scary! She concluded her storytelling by passing around a corpse's hand to all of the second graders. Oddly, she was not invited back for a second performance.

So there you have it. My long winded explanation of why I love to write, and why I would feel extremely blessed if I were ever able to do it full time. I think everyone has that thing that makes them want to get up in the morning. For me it's writing. I'm pretty sure that is like a boa constrictor with a love for finger painting, but I don't inflict my hobby on too many people. Give me a break.

On to our second installment of the "When You Really Hate Your Job" series.

NUMBER 2 - Create an image that describes you in your job. Are you on a riverbank with no way to get to the other side? Lost in a jungle? Poking through a thorny hedge? When you get comfortable with the image, begin visualizing a change in the obstacle. Imagine building a bridge across the river or finding a path in the forest. Don't force the image or the change. When you're ready it will come.

I find it hard to pin-point just one image to describe how I feel on those days when I really hate my job. I keep coming back to these recurring dreams I have sometimes where I am being attacked on all sides by people. Every time I take a swing at one of them, it's like trying to punch someone under water. Gravity seems to keep my limbs limp, and all the while my opponents are pursuing me and laughing at me. Laughing at my ineffectual, limp fists.

Okay I am imaging my fists making contact. My pursuers are bloody and defeated and limping away. I am victorious!!!

Okay, this is stupid. Sorry, this one is a little too New Agey for me. I didn't write them, I'm just passing them along.

I'll work on my image. What is your image?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

When You Really Hate Your Job Series - First Installment


Can't live without them. Can't shoot all of your co-workers without going to jail.

It's a conundrum.

The problem with jobs is that you usually end up spending more of your waking hours at your job than with people you would actually choose to be around. Unfortunately, for most of us, that means we spend most of our life in a place we hate with people we would eat in the first half hour following a plane crash doing tasks that make us think, "Chinese water torture...I could deal with it."

But I digress.

In general, I actually really like my job. I have good, sound employers who genuinely want to see our company grow. The mundane, life draining crap I have to do is balanced with work that let's me flex my creative muscles. And the only other person in my office besides myself is Kelly, who happens to be my Jewish Fairy Godmother. So it could definitely be worse.

But there are those days.

Those days that make me want to shove someone down a flight of stairs.
Those days that make me want to eat a whole pie.
Those days that make me want to down a bottle of Makers Mark and call talk radio shows.

Again, I digress.

I have noticed that more and more of my friends have been saying, "I hate my job!!!" or actually quitting their jobs suddenly (decisions they now regret in this economic climate). Lots of people I know are looking for work, or, more frequently, looking for "OTHER" work. Some are even talking of completely changing fields, for fear that if they continue on the career path they are on it will end in a stroke or a felony conviction.

So for all of us who find themselves either frequently or occasionally thinking "I hate my job," I present to you the "When You Really Hate Your Job Series". This is a list of 10 things you can do when you really hate your job. I have this bookmarked for reference, and it always puts my job into perspective and helps me get re-focused and re-energized.

NUMBER 1 - Begin focusing on what you want instead of how much you want to escape. When you find yourself sharing the latest horror story, stop in mid-sentence and say, "What I want to have is..."

For me, "What I want to have is" more time to be creative and less time playing catch up. I want to have $500 more a month in pay. I want to spend less time dealing with corporate bureaucracy and more time spent on money making activities.

But mostly what I want is just to write full time.

There I said it.

I'd rather be writing.

That should be my bumper sticker.

So what do you guys want?

Let me know...