I’m struggling with this whole “go to work” thing, lately. I know it’s necessary, that no 8 to 5 cubicle gig is going to be my paradise, that the bigger picture calls for me to do this for a bit longer, that things are slowly improving here. But man, it’s rough right now. It was better for a while, but I’m afraid this (and this) is the new normal.
There’s politicking going on. I’m on a committee that is supposed to be autonomous, and yesterday it became apparent that we are expected to adhere to an agenda. The consequences of not doing so aren’t clear, but at the end of the day I felt uneasy about the whole thing. I’ve been thinking about how to spin this to cover my own ass and still be a “team player”.
|When I hit up my reference library to my immediate right, I find all sorts of good advice about breaking the rules and finding my strength and delivering happiness (and Audrey Hepburn’s bio, but whatever) and not sweating the small stuff and I don’t feel like much of that is applicable when employees are at such a professional disadvantage. I seem to be in survival mode most of the time. It’s exhausting.
That’s the name of the game right now for a lot of people: Play along, but be careful. Jobs are scarce, and even when you’re under-employed (that’s such a crappy phrase…) it feels like you need to tap dance extra quickly in order to remain in the kickline (that’s a Rockettes reference, because I love me some Rockettes). It’s time (for me at least) to come up with a survival plan. It’s time to [insert trumpet fanfare] Get A Grip At Work!
OK, so what do you need in order to feel better about work at the end of the day? For me, it comes down to how productive I was, if what I did had value or relevance, and how I feel I’m perceived by my colleagues. The first one, I have a lot of control over. For the first months in this department, I allowed myself to languish. Like Susan Hayward.
Pauvre de moi.
I had to shake that off, because it was really having a negative impact on who I was outside of work. I drank too much, I wasn’t nice to Boo 😦 or Mr Incredible :(. It really was horrible. So, since I wasn’t given stuff to do at work, I found stuff to do (like, um, write a blog, among other things…). And that helped immensely. It gave me a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. At the very least, it passed the time.
Adding value or relevance in how I spent my time was also something I could change. I made a lot of noise about this, because I realized that if I wasn’t an integral part of this team, I wasn’t necessary. OK, so give me something important (see also: something nobody else wants to do but it needs to get done) and I will KILL it. I will do that unpleasant task so well that you can’t POSSIBLY continue to ignore me. This got me noticed, for sure. Suddenly, the higher-ups were stopping by my desk to chat about work and not-work stuff. Woohoo! Kristie = Team Player!
How I feel I’m perceived by my colleagues… ugh. When I was in college, I majored in Psychology (which is why I’m so wildly successful now…?) and one of the more unpleasant things I remember realizing that applied to me was the concept of being a high self monitor. I get very involved in what I think other people might be thinking about me (when the reality is that I may or may not even be on their radar, which is its own set of anxieties…). This is a tough one to get past, because there’s a fine line between accepting that we all live in our own little worlds and being freaked out that people are flat out ignoring you for what must be reasons that they all talk about (um, hi, paranoid much?). I’ve come to realize that if my first two Components of Workplace Contentedness are in place, the third one kind of fades away. Funny, that. If I take charge of that which I can control, that which I cannot control loses its thunder.
As for the shenanigans that are happening with my committee right now? Well, it’s tricky. I need to keep tap dancing and give ’em the old hocus pocus and assume that my time spent is spent well. If someone has already decided what the outcome will be, then that actually takes the pressure off. It’s their game, not mine, right? My stuff is documented (because, you know, I’m organized…) which means my ass is covered.