Saturday, March 6, 2010

On a Rainy Day I Pondered

We've been buried in a snow bank for months, and just this week my carpool buddy mentioned she'd found a newspaper, wrapped in plastic packaging, on her driveway when the snow melted this weekend.

It was dated, December 8.

The dogs don't seem to mind the cold as much as I do, and therefore today's rain doesn't seem to lift their spirits much either. They're always happy - as long as they get to eat, drink, sniff, chew and do their business.

Oh, to live in the moment!

I never do that. My mind is pre-occupied with thoughts of the flip house. Is the snow melting? Water in the basement? Driveway accessible? I added fire insurance last month just to be on the safe side and am so eager to get back to work. Last fall we completed the hardi-board siding, stained the cedar shingles, mulched the landscaping and shuttered it up until Spring. It's not yet Spring.

And hard to believe my own stupidity in thinking it possible to complete a project of this magnitude with my bare hands, little cash in spite of my husband's tremendous patience. The stainless steel refrigerator, stove and microwave hood, along with the washer, dryer and bathroom fixtures, have been parked in our garage nearly that long reminding me that a good deal isn't a deal if you have to store the items over 30 days. Try two years.

Oh how this rainy day has given me hope! Hope that the snow will melt, the soil will thaw, the plants will re-spout leaves and that soon, really soon, we'll be able to again spend our saturdays hammering, digging, reveling in the creation of a new space out of an old block house.

No Boss, I'm Not Looking for a Job

A while back one of my team members was caught interviewing for a job, when a former co-worker, still friends with her mentioned it. How thankful I was as her supervisor to recognize, before she accepted that position, that she was seeking employment elsewhere. Before the company could steal her away, I was able to negotiate a better position for her within our company, retaining a valuable employee and earning her loyalty. She's a top performer today.

Should you feel guilty looking for a job while you have a job?
Hell no.
As an adult, likely responsible for yourself, your livelyhood and often the food and shelter for your family, you should always be on the lookout for the position in life that brings you joy, and pays the bills.

There's a catch.
Don't do it on your company's time.
And don't use the assets of your company to compete against them. For example, taking headhunter phone calls from your office, updating and printing your resume on the job, or lying to your boss about your whereabouts mid-day make you as creepy as Tiger Wood's calling his paramour from his home sofa, children playing at his feet.

The balance.
If you're not happy in your job, it's hard to give it 100%.
For most people, it's not about the money, it's about the recognition, the feeling of contribution, the sense that you control your decisions and provide real value for a day's work. If you don't feel that about your job, at least 9 days out of 10, your boss is probably hoping you'll quit. In fact, she's clearly not doing anything to prevent it.

Not so fast.
Before you make that decision to jump ship, keep in mind that the job may not be the problem.
Have you read your job description lately? Are you giving it your best? Are you bringing your positive attitude and hard work ethic to the position every day and leaving the emotional crap at home? Are you asking to be challenged? Seeking feedback? Being honest about what you do well and how you can contribute more? There may be a better fit in your existing company, and you owe it to yourself to find out. Especially in this economy. If you still have a job, it's because your company needs you.

That's the question.
What do you want? What can you give? What do you like about your current position that you feel another job will provide? What can you do about it - within your current role? What options are available for you outside your current organization? What might you be doing differently? Before you make a move, get clear with yourself on what you do/don't do well, like and don't like, need and don't need.

It's not about survival.
When thinking about changing jobs, we humans get all emotional.
A conversation with a former co-worker and friend recently revealed tears and anxiety as she thought through the pros and cons of talking to her boss, vs. applying for another position within the company vs. outright quitting and risking a period of unemployment. If she quits, will she die? No. After 4 or more months, she might lose her home, true. She might have to cash in part of her retirement, sure. She might have to stop buying new clothes, give up her car, take the bus and eat ramen noodles. She won't die.

Get a second opinion.
We talked.
She realized that she needs to think through options, use a Benjamin Franklin style decision chart, and map out a plan. Once she realized that even the poorest of us in America live better than most royalty across the millenia (and that in a pinch she could move in with her parents), her amygdyla gave up the fight, and returned her to rational composure. You've got to do that for yourself too - get the seasoned opinion of friends and family to clarify your options.

Don't wait.
Always keep your resume updated.
Explore trade groups that interest you. Communicate with your connections on social networking sites. Become better at what you do on and off the job. Take classes to learn new skills that will get to that next position. And do your best in the job you have so that when the time comes for you to make that move, your contacts are proud to recommend you. (You'd hate to lose that next great position because someone who knows someone calls you a slacker, a bully, a bureacrat or worse.)

In the end it comes back to you. Who you know, what you want, and the little things you do each day. You are in control of your own destiny, at least in this country. So stop asking for permission - and do what you need to do with your life.

Yes, boss, I'm always looking for that next job - to do the most with my life and skills, be it to improve our company, the world, my family's future or something else.