It's Been a While (But Not Forever)

And here I am. Back to the world of the living. Well, I was living during this latest absence, just not living online or writing much. Last month was my birthday, a milestone year, so my wife and I took a trip out of state to visit some very good friends and celebrate.

The trip was fantastic, and very refreshing. On my last day of work before leaving, of course some drama unfolded just an hour before I was set to log off for nearly two weeks. It's been relatively quiet at work for weeks on end, but naturally, just before leaving, SHTF. Well, I "did what I could" before leaving, then just logged off knowing the work will still be there when I get back.

The best thing about the trip was that I don't have work email set up on my mobile phone, and I screen all my calls before answering. So, not once, and I mean, not one time, did I think about work while I was away. I really feel like I'm achieving some sort of balance between apathy at work and caring just enough not to get fired.

I used to feel guilty about such things, but I find that when I approach my work in this way, it helps me stay calm, even focused. And when I flush out all the worry about "being good enough" to be considered the best person on my team, if frees up a ton of time, both mentally and physically, and allows me to have some energy left to do other things at the end of my workday.

As I don't want it to be too obvious, I'll do things like act upset or outraged that something is taking so long for someone else to complete, but really, I don't care. They can take forever and a day for all I care. I've realized that in my role, I'm responsible for all the outcomes of a project, but have no direct authority over anyone on the teams I engage to get the work done.

So, right there is a reason to stop getting worked up over stuff I simply can't control. Sure, it's twisted that I get rated based on outcomes that I pretty much have no control over, but no one forced me to take the job, right? Additionally, I've also learned that if something's important enough to my chain of command, the thing I need done will suddenly happen.

If it's not that important, my manager will just tell me to keep trying, only after interrogating me eight ways to Sunday asking if I tried the numerous ways in which to reach someone. In other words, if a person doesn't respond or deliver, I'm not doing enough. Never mind the person totally ghosting on their commitment, I'm the one at fault.

So, another reason to just stop giving a shit. And, as I mentioned, if it's important enough, and if I've answered my manager in all the possible ways in which to reach someone short of flying to their city and kicking in the front door of their home demanding an answer, my manager will either make it happen, or not.

Again. Don't care.

So in a sense I think I've turned my daily work into a kind of a game. How far can I dance on the edge of not caring, while also feigning concern? As long as I get an "average" rating, I'm good. I stopped looking for promotions a while ago, as I've written in my previous postings.

And, even an average rating gets an annual pay raise, so it totally works out for me.

However, my wife said something to a friend the other day that really struck me. She said, "After coming back from such a wonderful vacation, I realized: Life is too short." Now, this is something I've learned a long time ago, but this is the first I've ever heard her acknowledge such a thing.

And she's right. Life IS too short. So, I'm gonna play it on my terms. If that means doing my work on only half power while my employer continues to embrace contradicting processes and a dysfunctional culture, then the work I'm doing is on my terms. When the time is right, I'll bail and move on to something else.

In the meantime, if they want to pay me to be ineffective by their own design, cool. I'm still learning new things on my own and expanding my horizons, but it's not in the things they want me to learn. I'm learning and exploring the things that interest me. And again, as long as I get an average rating, I'm golden.

To some it may sound like I'm just taking advantage of a company and should work to create change within the organization to make things less painful and problematic to get accomplished. But, I've tried, numerous times. The fight in me is gone, but I find things go much smoother for me if I just embrace the suck and move along.

So, I'm swimming through the adversity, ducking and weaving, and playing the game. It is what it is. And if the company ever decides to get it's act together and support their employees instead of enabling others to skate out on their responsibilities, then I'm all about stepping up. But, they constrain me and my colleagues at every turn, and even discourage any desire to go above and beyond in the way they treat their people.

If the right opportunity comes along, I'll take it. I won't stay here any longer than I need to. But, I'm also not hurrying along the process, either. This enables me to be very choosy, and only pursue the opportunities that interest me and pay me what I'm worth. Otherwise, I've got a pretty good gig right here acting interested and like I'm trying my best to get things done regardless of the adversity.

So, this wasn't meant to be a handbook on how I get over on my employer, it was really meant to showcase that even though I wasn't really burned out before taking vacation, our vacation reminded me once again what's really important. And, at the end of the day, what's really important to me is working to live, not living to work.

As my wife so deftly put it, "Life's too short."

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