There comes a time when you have to choose…
Am I going to improve my life or am I just going to bitch about it? I am talking specifically about my work in this case. I have been at my job for approaching 12 years. First of all, it’s a long time to be doing the same type of thing in the same place. Of course there have been changes over the years, but unfortunately many of them pull for my weaknesses and not my strengths.
I am the program director for a nonprofit community based vocational program for adults with developmental disabilities. When I first started the job I absolutely loved it. I enjoyed working with my individuals and I found my duties interesting and challenging. Although I had to do a budget for my program, it was pretty straight forward. There were contracts that were taken care of by the accounting people in the main office (or the mothership as I like to call it).
In the last five years or so, the budgeting part has changed dramatically. Now I have to bill as a fee for service, keeping track of everyone’s attendance down to the minute. Then it’s time for math with the math in the math. The kicker is that I always used to say I went into human services because I can’t do math. Oh well… joke’s on me!
So I have spent four of the last five years whining about how much my job has changed, all the while getting less efficient doing it. The less effectively I did my job the more people got on me. It felt at times like a pig-pile of hate on me. I couldn’t do anything right. Sadly once you get the reputation of a screw up, it can pick up speed and take on a life of its own. At times I really think there actually were certain people waiting for me to make a mistake so they could point it out.
But recently I came to a realization. It is kind of reminiscent of the end of City Slikers (1991) when Patricia Wettig tells Billy Crystal that it’s OK with her if he quits his job. But Billy had come to the realization while he was trapped in the raging river trying to save Norman, the cute little calf, from a watery death. He responds to Patricia Wettig that he doesn’t need to quit his job, he just needs to do it better. Yeah, I remember the calf’s name. I’ve seen that film waaaaay too many times! I think they never should have made the second film, but I digress.
So anyway back to my realization… As a new school year began for our program, I decided to rededicate myself to my job. I have been trying harder to stay organized and on top of things. I’ve stopped spending so much time feeling sorry for myself, and am now trying to pay more attention to details. At the risk of sounding Pollyanna about it, the new approach seems to be working. I have been feeling less flustered and more in control. It takes less energy to stay ahead of the curve than it does to always be chasing it. Also helpful is the fact that my co-workers have been responsive to my attitude. It’s a little like being on a diet. When you start to see results it spurs you on to do more.
I’m hopeful that I will be able to sustain this new positive roll. It certainly feels better than wallowing in the negative. While some may read this and think that it’s simplistic, it’s really much harder to achieve than I’m describing here. It took the last year of misery to get to a place where I could see my part in what was happening to me. Yes the job had changed, and no it was not for the better. But it’s not going to change back, and all the bitching and moaning in the world wasn’t going to help. It was however going to make it worse. So feeling sorry for myself wasn’t the best way to go, but…
It seemed like a good idea at the time.