Lessons Learned in the Workplace
A month ago I wrote my last front-page post about my sudden/unexpected career shift and the process of accepting it and moving forward. Since I normally average one front page post per week, the long layoff should be evidence that this event has taken over much of my life. Five weeks after getting the news it is still a big adjustment. Dealing with job anxiety sucks. I mean, takes-over-your-every-waking-thought sucks. As I noted in my last post I have no history of anxiety issues so this has been unchartered territory. To deal with things I have tried a multi-pronged approach which has been helpful in moving forward.
What I already knew but needed a reminder of is that the ‘new’ economy is heartless. This is the third time in a row I have moved to a new position with my company through no choice of my own. This is mostly my fault for allowing my career to happen to me rather than taking control of it. I have zero guilt over exploring other options within my company and outside. I’ve learned that my managers will probably respect me more for taking that initiative so I am going to do just that.
I’ve also re-discovered that I need my wife even more than I thought. She has been my rock through all of this and I am bursting with gratitude for having her in my life. Having her as a sounding board for my thoughts and having someone to maintain some sense of normalcy in our home while I adjust has been invaluable. I have always been a proponent of marriage but now I find myself wanting to shout it to every single person I know.
On the career front I decided to enlist the help of multiple resources. To deal with the anxiety of having things move beyond my control I thought about athletes and what they do to deal with setbacks. Sports psychologists have become the norm and since I have always thought highly of talk therapy I’m trying it out. Having a neutral party to listen to my fears has taken some of the burden off of my wife and also given me a fresh outside perspective. The counselor I am working with is also helping me to order my thoughts somewhat which has been the most helpful. He listens while I blather for 50 minutes and then shares the themes he has seen in what I said. We meet every couple of weeks and it has been very helpful.
I also thought about professionals like actors or comedians who use agents to help them mold their careers. My biggest concern has been the 10 years I spent in corporate America, outside of my field of study, and how that will look if I apply for jobs at history-oriented companies. So I met with a very well-respected career counseling firm here and town and I am enlisting their help in assessing my skills and my job experience. This is not just about finding a job in my chosen field but also to see if there might be other career paths where my skills would be a good fit. I have been out of the game for so long that I need this advice in exploring the job market of today. Having the help of professionals in doing this is a big comfort.
I am applying for a lot of jobs both within my company and outside. My company is huge. We have around 400,000 employees worldwide and the biggest single location is right here in Louisville. The company is so large though that it’s hard to explore all of the options available. So by applying for positions it gives me a chance to meet with managers in other departments I am less familiar with and hear about what they do. Not getting those positions carries no negative connotation in my company and I treat the interviews as fact-finding sessions. If a better opportunity presents itself at the same time, this is all the better. Outside my company I find that each job application, even if not fruitful, creates a sense of excitement and optimism that is addictive.
The last thing I have done to move forward in my career is to conduct lots of impromptu ‘interviews’ with friends and acquaintances about their jobs. Hearing what my friends like and don’t like about their jobs has brought about a remarkable amount of perspective. I have learned that a lot of people are not crazy about their jobs and that some things that bother me about my job are legitimate concerns and others are an exaggeration. In addition, hearing from friends who love their jobs give me hope for myself.
And that’s where I am. I miss blogging but my new position comes with a healthy amount of overtime right now and until I find a balance, my posts at the League will be sporadic. In the meantime, I’m curious to hear from the commentariat. What do you like or dislike about your job? Have you been successful in shifting careers and what advice would you give to someone in the same spot?