Off the Top of My Head: On Self-Improvement

Off The Top of My Head

There’s a lot of talk this time of year about “resolutions” and self-improvement.  I took a moment to look back at things over the last year to review a big change I made and see if it can help others in a similar situation.

I spent nine years, 2003-2012, giving everything I could to an organization.  Though it was a government organization and not known for productivity, I did pride myself on doing everything I could to be the exception to the stereotype of “lazy government workers.”  I wasn’t alone; there were a lot of us there actually who worked very hard to ensure our overall mission was accomplished.  I always felt doing the job well was more important than minor rewards, and it wasn’t until I began speaking with people who didn’t work where I did that I realized how bad things actually were.  I had been there nearly a decade, was essentially a group leader, volunteered to be a committee chair, accepted lots of extra work and challenges, and had received praise for work I’d done in all aspects of my job…and still made about 25K a year.

My last year there I felt things became clearer.  Maybe I was naïve for a long time, or maybe the environment changed.  I was told a lot of conflicting things about why I could be moved into a semi-supervisory position but not paid for it.  I found out how much money was wasted around the place on silly things like mobile electronic devices, new staff, and PC replacements.  All while people were doing hard work for little money and others did very little work for quite a bit.  I became pretty angry, disillusioned, and disgusted with the place.  I was told, point blank, “We can’t do what we do here without you” only to be immediately told, “You aren’t qualified for any more money,” but I WAS qualified to do the work…just not get paid for it.

I soon realized that maybe I shouldn’t be angry at the place I worked.  Yes, they were taking advantage of hard workers by paying them peanuts, piling them up with work, and telling them they wish they could provide raises…but never doing it.  That all seems like grounds to be angry…but really I was angry with myself.  I complained a LOT about the situation…but never did anything to change it.  So when I had the chance, provided by the all-too-important contact who knows something, to break free and start, day one, making more than 10k a year more than I was at the previous place, I surprised everyone, including myself by taking the chance.  I was nervous. I don’t deal well with change. I didn’t know much about the job, but I was still confident.  I was still me.  I’d still give my all to learn it and do it as well as I could.  And within my first few weeks at the new place, a supervisor from another department came to see a database I built in my spare time that my supervisor mentioned to him.  He came over saying “I was told you made something for us I just had to see…”  No one claimed credit or tried to take possession, they just came by to see how it could be used.  My first evaluation at the new job I was told how much I was appreciated and even rewarded for the work I do.  It CAN happen.

So what was the point of this semi-rant?  I know a LOT of people are where I was in 2012.  They’re stuck in a situation they don’t like but put up with it because it’s what’s “familiar” or easy.  And it is easy. It’s MUCH easier to talk about how you need to change and what you wish was better.  It’s harder to do something about it.  But you CAN do it, and if it’s affecting you to an extent that it intrudes on your life outside of the situation no one can change it but you.  No one owed me anything at my old job.  I allowed it to be what it was.  No one owes me anything at my new job or anywhere else.  Changes occur for those who seek them and stop talking about how they need a change and actually change.

I’ve found it works in all aspects of life.  So the next time you start to think “I hate my job/situation/whatever” stop thinking and start doing something about it.  If someone as riddled with crippling OCDs and neuroses as me can do it, anyone can!

So happy New Year, RevPub readers.  Here’s to a fresh start for those who want it!

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