Tag Archives: Change

Why I Left

Almost ten years ago, I worked at a pharmaceutical company. It wasn’t the dream job I had imagined when I was young, though it very much was a dream job for me during most of my tenure there.

I started off on the ground floor, taking a position at a lower level than I was working previously in order to get into the company. I had recently been laid off, yet another victim of sorts of the 9/11 tragedy. This company was growing and offered a lot of opportunity.

The company went into launch mode six months after I joined, hiring like crazy. I got a promotion, and several others in the next few years, with all the trappings of the so-called “American Dream”. I worked well outside of my job description and loved every minute of it.

It was heady and exciting to be a part of something that felt so significant. I was learning a lot, testing myself and developing new skills, and felt like I was tremendously valued and appreciated while being part of a family of sorts.

Then things changed.

I was now one of 2,000 employees. And worst of all, I got caught up in a political turf war and was uninvited to the launch meeting along with several of my peers. I was crushed. It was as if all the hard work and sacrifice were thrown in my face, and now that the rewards of my work were realized, I was no longer valued.

I was then given the task of doing the same thing in half the time with half the resources– not very inspiring.

I was making more money than I ever thought possible and working in a job that I formerly loved, however, my prior joy was now sucked out. I felt so insulted, and didn’t see the opportunity for growth that I previously enjoyed. After a rough weekend of soul searching, I determined my next step.

Credit to: Stephanie Staples, www.nursetogether.com

Credit to: Stephanie Staples, http://www.nursetogether.com

I resigned.

I was offered a lot more money, but that wasn’t really the point. I just didn’t feel it anymore and money wasn’t going to bring back the joy I once had. People were shocked when they found out I was quitting without a job, and I’ll admit that I felt a little smug about it.

I have never made the money I made while working at that company, nor have I enjoyed any job as much since. However, I’ve never once regretted my decision to leave when the job no longer served me. I’ve always felt that the $1,500 the company saved for my travel to that meeting wasn’t worth the insult to me, nor to my peers, who all left shortly after I did.

I may not find a job I am as passionate about, however, I will no longer sacrifice myself so much for any company. It was a painful lesson learned but a good one, and though I do continue to struggle with my work-life balance at times, thinking back to this time certainly puts things into perspective.

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Like a Hamster in a Wheel

I believe people come into our lives for a reason. It might not be readily obvious, and the timing may not even be immediate when we learn why he or she arrived. But there’s always a reason for us to cross paths with those in our life.

Sometimes it’s to fill a need, and other times it’s simply to show us how far we’ve come.

I have recently noticed this in work. I work with a guy who is just phenomenal: he’s hard working and dedicated, smart and really truly cares, and he’s very positive. Rarely do you see him without a smile on his face and a willingness to help anyone who asks. It’s refreshing to work with someone like him in what can be such a cynical corporate environment.

But lately he’s getting really burned out. His willingness to help is taken for granted and taken advantage of. He works a lot of long days compensating for those around him and he’s getting frustrated.

How familiar this seems.

I’ve had similar struggles in my work experience, and have worked long days and even lost a summer working towards a launch at a prior company. I was consumed with my work and though a part of me loved it, a part of me greatly resented it. Especially when my extra efforts weren’t appreciated.

Now I see the same in him, and though I’ve had some struggles with balancing my work and life in my current role, overall I have managed it reasonably effectively, and now I have the opportunity to step back and view my accomplishment. I also can share what I’ve learned to coach someone who hopefully can benefit.

How cool is that?

I’ve also seen this in my personal life too. Sometimes people come into my life at the right time to expand my life and my heart. Other times, they arrive simply to show me just how far I’ve come. It’s so easy to fall into old patterns of behavior, and I find that I do fairly often. The trick for me now is to realize what I’m doing, and to make a conscious decision to choose to continue, or to choose to do better for me.

And not blame myself for not seeing it at first. This is the hardest part.

This has been a huge work-in-progress for me. So when that person arrived and I finally stepped back and saw the lesson for what it was, I’ll admit I was frustrated at first for allowing myself to step right back into that role. I allowed my life to jump right onto that roller coaster that I know all to well from my past. Boy was I mad that I let myself do that yet again.

Then I stepped back and smiled.

Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me realize how far I’ve come, and how I can do better for myself. I may always react in the same ways, but I can then step back and make better decisions. I can love myself enough to decide that I am worthy of so much more, and to go for it.

The games are over and I’m jumping off the ride. I choose me.

Thank you.

Lessons

 

The Other Side of the Pancake

Integrity is an important value to me: being true to my work, following through and honoring commitments and being consistent with my beliefs and actions. It’s not always easy, especially that last part, but I continue to try. 

One thing that recently showed up for me to work on is my need to be right. Ironically, I’ve had this conversation with people, that goes something like this, “Do you want to be right, or do you want to get what you want/need?”

It’s so much easier when I’m not the actor in this play. 

I’ve mentioned before that I wanted to be the female personification of Perry Mason when I was a child. I dreamed of being a lawyer, walking into a courtroom with a commanding presence, all confident, poised and prepared to make my case that will prove my point. I practiced over and over doing just that. Here’s my belief/thought/feeling and here are the reasons for it. This is why I am right and you are wrong.

Bam! Gavel down on the bench.

I recently had an issue with someone and as I was silently building my case, I realized what I was doing. This is someone I enjoy, and while I am hurt and angry and do believe I should express my feelings, I don’t need to go so far as to build a case as to why she sucks. I was so busy doing it that I felt my heart harden and I was working myself to the point of demanding an apology for the perceived infraction or else.

OR ELSE.

Yeah, I was going there, and what a crappy place to be.

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 Do I want to be right, or do I want to get what I need? Maybe there is a middle ground, however, as while I do want to communicate to get what I need, I don’t need her to throw herself on the sword to do it. Because I have a fairly good idea that she’s also considering her beliefs and feelings and they aren’t showing me in such a favorable light as my thoughts are.

I recently read an article by Dr. Phil in Oprah magazine (yep, I sure did!) where he talked about a pancake, and no matter how flat you make that pancake, there is always another side. It’s not easy to see that when you’re the female personification of Perry Mason building your case, but it’s still there.

I took a step back. I put aside all of my (superb) reasons why I was right, and why I had been so cruelly wronged that I simply had to have an apology, and tried to see the other side of the pancake.

And you know what I learned? I’d rather get what I need/want than be right. It felt so much better.

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Doors that Close and Open

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Relationships have a natural ebb and flow to them. Sometimes a connection that sparks due to shared interests and proximity can cool off when a person moves away. While this can be sad, it also creates space for new relationships.

I heard a quote once that people are friends for a reason, a season or a lifetime, and that seems to fit. While having lifetime friends feels wonderful, we only have so much room in our lives to dedicate to that kind of relationship. Sometimes change is good and allows us to be open to new people in our life.

And even then, each relationship is very different.

One of my oldest and closest friends is someone I’ve known for over twenty years. She’s the sister I never had, and people even comment that we look alike when we’re together. I see her once or twice a year and when I do, it’s magical. We laugh, we cry, we open our hearts in a way that I don’t do with many people. We don’t see each other often and almost never connect when we’re not in person, but we both know that we would do absolutely anything for the other.

Interestingly, through much of our friendship we also agreed that while we love each other dearly, we are enough like siblings that we couldn’t spend a lot of time together without arguing. We learned to act accordingly and it’s made our relationship so much stronger as a result. Though now that we’re older, I think this has changed a bit. We’ll have a great opportunity to see where things are at as she’s moving much closer. I’m excited.

I have other friendships that seem to require the proximity and sadly faded when that was lost. In some cases, we’ve come back together and became friends all over again at a new part of our lives. With others, I have some really wonderful memories.

Relationships are defined by the people involved. It’s hard when one person changes the rules without agreement or communication. Some recent Facebook interactions have me thinking about this. The joys of social media, right? You can hide behind your laptop and connect with people, without actually making a connection. Interesting.

Whether it be a reason, season or lifetime, I greatly appreciate the people in my life. While there are times I’d like to shell off in my house and try to say I’m an introvert, I know I need to face that I’m not! It’s my connections to other people that give me pain sometimes, but also give me great joy and a sense of belonging.

Our relationships also give us such a wonderful opportunity to learn more about ourselves.

 

 

Winding Roads and Moving Forward

I started this blog with the simple goal of doing something I’m passionate about, writing. I decided to write about things that I enjoy and that challenge me like attaining balance (work-life balance in particular, as that’s been a real struggle for me), seeking happiness and pursuing my passions. After I was writing for a little while, I thought that some people may actually enjoy my musings, so I decided to share them. I am passionate about writing, and the act of self-expression is very liberating. Particularly as expressing my feelings is something that I’m still learning to do.

I’m so thrilled by the comments that I get in the blog, on my Facebook page or in private messages. I appreciate that some of what I write touches people and that you can relate. I went through so much of my life thinking that I was different, and that I was the only one growing up in an unhappy and abusive family. I spent so much energy plastering a smile on my face to hide what I was really feeling that I lost my ability to feel for a long time.

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Opening the door to feel again was both good and bad. It wasn’t easy trudging through the past, though I’m glad I did the work to get me to where I stand now. I have learned that I don’t really need to process everything to heal. I need to forgive others, and particularly to forgive myself, acknowledge the feelings and choose to move on. Recognition and forgiveness have allowed me the freedom to mourn and let go.

“In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

I don’t intend for this blog to be a diatribe about all that I’ve been through, but more an outlet for things that are going through my mind. I feel like I’m processing things on overdrive and the more I open myself to the possibilities the more I’m growing and experiencing. The more I’m growing, the more I’m attracting like-minded people that I can continue the work with. Manifestation is a beautiful thing, especially when you feel you deserve the beauty and joy that you draw to you.

I can be pretty hard on myself, especially when I find I’m repeating behaviors that I’m not happy with. I’ve heard people say this is like falling in a pothole over and over. Instead of doing this, I’m focusing on being grateful for those experiences that help me recognize that I can make better choices. I can choose to try something different.

“Until a person can say deeply and honestly say, “I am what I am today because of the choices that I made yesterday,” That person cannot say, “I choose to otherwise.”” ~Stephen R. Covey

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The Path Through the Woods

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” – Alexander Graham Bell

Fall is my favorite season. I loved everything about it when I lived near Boston. I loved the kaleidoscope of stunning hues of red, gold, orange interspersed through greens, browns and blues. The bright red shock of birch and oak leaves and the cool breeze becoming more crisp while whipping off the water, causing the fallen leaves to stir.

ImageAutumn is a magical time of transition and beauty.

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Like the seasons, relationships change too. They can grow closer or more distant, eventually dissipating like the fall leaves sprinkling the ground. Each leaf was once a thing of beauty that will be taken back up to feed the tree to grow new branches and leaves. The cycle repeats.

Late fall, once all the leaves were on the ground and the trees were bare, before the first snow fall always made me sad and nostalgic for what once was.

Sometimes it seems that closing doors bring about the energy that it takes to open a new door. I’m not going to offer a biopic of all of my failed relationships, but I’ve learned that relationships often have a duration and that it’s ok—because from each I learn new things about myself and others. Each relationship prepares me for the next in its own way. And there can be joy in cherishing the wonderful memories instead of sorrowfully clinging to what once was.

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Doors open when we let go of relationships that no longer serve us. Learning to look towards the opening door instead of longingly at the closed one isn’t easy.

It’s also not easy to reopen closed doors. I recently received an email from someone I considered a very close friend. We had drifted despite my best efforts to maintain the friendship. I realized that as much as I cared, I couldn’t, and didn’t want to, do it on my own. I said goodbye in my way and decided to remember her with love instead of hurt.

Her email asked me to forgive her for being a bad friend, and for her lack of communication over the last couple of years. It offered no excuses just a simple apology and a statement of her feelings.

I’ve missed her friendship, and when I allowed myself to realize that the distance between us wasn’t all about me, it allowed me to let her go when she needed that. Then it enabled me to welcome her with open arms when she came back. I don’t know where things will lead, but that’s ok. That’s really not the point.

Delightfully Imperfect

When I was a child, I learned that I had to be perfect to be loved by my mother. I had to do everything perfectly, in the way that she defined perfect. 

The big problem with that, is that the bar of perfection was always raised and therefore was never achievable. And of course, “perfect” is subjective. It probably won’t surprise you to learn that I’m a very achievement-oriented person.

I don’t remember much of my childhood, but what I do remember is rapid-fire snippets of criticism and rejection. “You could have done better.” “You need to lose weight.” “You are a horrible person.”

“YOU’RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH!!!” was my internalization.

I made it my story. 

I didn’t even have to hear it anymore; I had produced my own voice to it. Echoes of “you’re not good enough”  followed me throughout my life. Everything I did, everyone I met and everywhere I went, it echoed through my head. 

So what did I do? I overachieved professionally. I dove headfirst into a life filled with career in order to avoid the pain of constant failure. In order to define me, I wanted to achieve. If I could somehow do enough or be enough, then my internal critic would stop.

But I followed me everywhere I went, and my very loud pain-in-the-butt inner critic did too. No matter how high I strived, it was never enough, and always left me feeling like a failure.

I internalized the lessons of my childhood. What I didn’t understand at the time, is that it’s nearly impossible to be loved by someone who doesn’t love themselves. But my child brain translated this as an opportunity to do better, and by trying to improve, I might get that love that I wanted.

Not that I achieved perfection, but that was my lofty goal. When I’d receive accolades, I would be outwardly thankful, but inside was calculating what I could have done better and what I would aspire to the next time.

My quest for perfection was exhausting, and kept me from enjoying so many wonderful things in my life. It also kept me from taking a lot of chances and risks, because if I didn’t think I could achieve perfection, or at least do really well, then I wouldn’t do it.

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I saw a presentation by Don Miller and he introduced this graphic along with the suggestion, “What if we are not the identities we project? What happens when we operate out of our false selves?…We are not our failures; we are also not our successes… Sometimes fear is expressed as being careful.”

He then posed three questions: 

  1. Who are we?
  2. What do we want to do?
  3. What’s the first step?

We have the power to write our own story. “What if our life is a memoir about to be written?” 

It’s empowering to consider where I want my life to go from here, and it’s really scary as well. My goal in the coming weeks is to consider the questions posed by Don and to engage techniques discussed by another presenter at the World Domination Summit to write my own story; I’m not seeking perfection, though, but “good enough.” As Don said, “no masterpiece is perfect.”

I aspire to be delightfully imperfect.