comfortzone

I’m not a career-minded person. That’s not to say I’m not a good worker; I put my all into every project I take on. It’s more a reflection on how little effort I’ve put into advancing my own station. I’ve been complacent.

I’ve been at the same organization for more than 14 years – 10 of those in the exact same position! So when I switched employers at the beginning of March, it was a big deal for me. It was a choice I only undertook after much soul searching.

My more career-minded friends – who were semi-shocked I had stayed put so long – have kindly reminded me just how substantial a chunk of time that is in relation to the span of the average career. And I get that. I understand that by switching jobs regularly you grow your skill set. You grow your resumé. You grow your salary. But there are rewards that go beyond more money and a fancier title. I want to do work I can feel good about.

There are a lot of jobs I wouldn’t feel good about. I don’t know if I could comfortable work at a profit-driven company. My old job was with a charitable organization, and the work was aimed at making the world a better place. It felt valuable and I was happy to put my effort into that pursuit.

It’s also important to me that I can leave work behind at the end of the day. Work should not be all-consuming. As the saying goes, no one ever got to their deathbed saying, “I wish I had spent more time at the office.” My last job was familiar and comfortable – and I had reached a level of proficiency that meant I could easily leave work at the office and keep my personal time personal.

But there is a downside to that proficiency: I wasn’t being challenged. Still, I was happy and wasn’t actively looking for a switch. Then a job with the City presented itself.

Complacency only goes so far.

It’s one thing to avoid seeking out change, but when change comes looking for you it’s a lot harder to turn it down. And this new position had a lot going for it, besides the better salary. It was in the public sector, so still not for-profit, and once again, the organization’s goal was to make the world a better place, albeit at the local level. It seemed like a great fit. It meant saying goodbye to my benefits. To 5 weeks of paid vacation. To my close friends and colleagues. But I decided I was up for the change… and the challenge.

Now here I am, already one month in, and I’m incredibly happy with my decision. Yes, I’m on a short-term contract, and I have no promise of work after my first 6 months – and that’s a bit scary – but so far the rewards have been worth it. I’m challenged every day. I’m learning new things every day. The people I work with are fantastic, and I’m making great new friends and business connections. I’m growing my resumé.

I’m trying to keep my hopes tempered, but every day my hope is growing that I can impress enough to swing this into a longer (maybe even permanent) position. I’m enjoying it immensely. But even if things don’t work out with the City, I’ve already learned a ton about communications that I didn’t know before.

And if I wind up with no job after this contract, at least I’ll have a stronger set of experience. At least I’ll have stopped being complacent. At least I’ll have tried.

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