Top 10 Reasons I Am Grateful To Be Starting My New Job

For those of you keeping track, my new job starts in just six more days.  I actually don’t know too much about what my working environs will be like going forward – except for my manager, I haven’t met any future colleagues, or even really seen the office space.  Even so, I can anticipate a few of the things this new job will bring – a long daily commute, again being subjected to the schedule of others, and a (more strict than being at home) dress code I will have to follow, including shaving every day!

While I am certainly feeling some trepidation about starting a new job, there are a lot of items on the “pros” side of my list too.  So with the goal of thinking positively, I decided to give you, David Letterman style, the Top 10 Reasons I Am Grateful To Be Starting My New Job:

10.  It’s the economy stupid.  Despite what may or may not be happening in the financial markets, the reality of life in the 21st Century is that companies leave such small margins that almost nobody can take their job for granted anymore, nothing is secure.  People lucky enough to be employed watch as their colleagues leave without being replaced, or get laid off in yet another “reorganization”, with those remaining left to carry an ever-increasing burden.  Any newly created jobs are more than likely to be lower-paying than their predecessors, if they are not outsourced, set up as temporary positions, or elsehow used as yet another cost-cutting measure allowing companies to meet highly demanding bottom lines.

(Note that while those banks that have been able to survive the crash are continuing the path of disaster that caused the whole damned thing in the first place, the top executives from these and other industries are still reaping incredible personal financial reward for the cost-slashing measures they take without heed to the long-term future of those forced to produce and sell these inferior products and services.)

9.  A return to normalcy.  As any parent knows, it is human nature to follow a daily routine.  Sure, it should be a flexible routine, and it is often nice, if not necessary, to stray from that routine.  But just having a “normal” activity to be doing on a daily basis is a reward unto itself.

There is a freedom to having every day be different, but it is a lot of pressure to keep even that from becoming routine.  While settling into a routine doesn’t have to be either boring or productive, it’s only human nature to find that rut and settle on in.

For the past couple of months, my routine has been to get the kids ready for, and off to, school before settling down in front of the computer.  I would read the news, check into Facebook to see what was going on in my own world.  Then I’d delve into LinkedIn and the job market.  I’d vary what to do with my late morning and afternoon, but whether I was writing or playing guitar or just watching TV until it was time to pick up the kids, it still fit nicely into my new routine.

But as we’ll see next, there is a lot of danger behind having so much free time.

 8. Idle hands are the Devil’s playthings.   Yes, I have used a lot of my time off productively – I have done a lot of writing, a lot of housework, and a lot of work towards finding work.  But there has been a lot of wasted time too – I would be ashamed to admit how many hours I have spent playing video games, watching terrible TV (most of which I have watched many times before) and elsehow found mindless ways to enable time to move swiftly.

Although working all day is not conducive to hobbies, knowing that I have a finite amount of “free time” does motivate me to get some things done.  Even with some R&R time in the evenings after the kids have gone to bed, I can also properly budget my time and energy.

Yes, in the end I will have less time on my hands, but that’s alright because the time I do have will be appreciated all the more.

7.  I can spend again.  Now, to be honest, things were never dire with the financial situation for my family, and with this new job being a few career-steps backwards (particularly in terms of salary), we’re still not in a position to be extravagant by any means.  But being (steadily) unemployed leads to many concessions in this area.

Over the past two years, I have found myself totally delaying even the smallest of purchases which were not absolutely necessary.  Sure, we still found a way to give the kids their birthday parties, to afford to continue to spoil our kids just short of rotten, and to otherhow maintain certain luxuries in life to which we have become accustomed.  But at the same time, we have ordered pizza or eaten fast food only a fraction of our previous level; even low-cost activities such as movies and day trips have been usually limited to walks to the park, and other cost-effective outings.  Hell – I’ve been walking around in holey socks for two years because I can simply do without.

Certainly factors like these help decrease the self-esteem of the unemployed everywhere – we certainly can afford a package of socks or the occasional pizza and trip to the movies.  But the idea of “waiting until I get a job” is tantalizingly logical, that is until the weeks turn into months and the months turn into years …

6.  I’ll again be a productive member of society.  While I have found some ways to contribute to society over the past couple of years, it pales in comparison to the volume of good I can do on a daily basis.  I have worked supporting scientific and medical research, which was much more fulfilling than working at the corporate ambulance-chasing law firm I had previously served.  Now I will be working in a much more direct way to ensure that needy kids get the healthy food they need, which promises to raise the fulfillment bar even further.

I know that in the end, raising my own kids well is the best thing that I will do for society in my life.  In a lot of ways, work is just work – a kind of necessary evil which should be tamed in whatever means possible.  But at the same time, doing actual good in the world (or at least the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania) is a nice way to help tame the necessary evil that work is.

5.  No more interviews!  Just as many folks in their late 20’s and 30’s start to tire of the whole dating scene, the excitement has long gone.  Sure, with each new opportunity that excitement would come back, only to be dashed by a polite “no thanks”, or worse, a total lack of response.

And unlike the dater, vowing to stay single is not really an option.  Sure, I could try to make a go at it with consulting, but it’s just not my style.

While work situations do have their own stressful meetings and other interactions with people, it is a different kind of stress, one that I am more willing and able to manage.  Just as a marriage will have its own share of disappointments, sadness and anger, there is a comfort there knowing that there is a common interest towards working together through any issues.

4.  My kids are driving me crazy.  Okay, I love the little boogers, I really do.  Their joy is my joy, and their sadness is my sadness.  I actually enjoy being the judge, jury and executioner where they are concerned, and with every new thing they learn I am that much more fulfilled.

But I need to talk with some adults.  I am sick of playing Go Fish, I cannot build another Lego building, and I simply do not have the lack of energy enough to sit through another episode of the Power Rangers.

I firmly agree with the bumper sticker, as cheesy as it is, that said, “Kids spell love T-I-M-E”.  I know have spent both quality time and quantity time with them over the past two years.  But still, I’m a grown-up, and it will be nice to get out of the darned house and talk with other grown-ups.  I miss those smoking breaks, huddled under an awning on a rainy day making small talk with the other huddled masses in the cloud of cigarette (and occasional cigar) smoke.

After all, there is more to life than super heroes, Star Wars and why I back the car into the driveway instead of pulling in forwards (or the other wackiness I get asked all day long).  I just hope I’ll be able to remember what those other things in life actually are.

3.  I am out of pens.  Okay, serously.  I used to work with a lot of marketing folks, and access to free branded pens was never an issue.  Notepads, staples and other supplies were also readily available, not to mention printers, faxes and copiers, resources not easily duplicated by the cheaper versions I have at home.

Sure, I bought a package of pens a year or so ago, but the kids have long since gone through those.  And while the prospect of free supplies coming with this new gig is slim, just being in an office environment on a daily basis gives me access to resources I can actually use.  Instead of making a list at home, I may make it at work.  I’ll certainly be doing most of my document printing there – it’s not actually personal documents I find myself printing, after all.

Besides, you can never have too many pens.

2.  I can exercise my brain.  Yes, I have had some consulting projects over the past two dozen months, I have read A LOT of books, and I do Sudoku, crossword, logic and math puzzles almost every day.  My brain has had the opportunity to recharge its batteries, after all, but like a cell phone always kept plugged in and charging, my brain’s stamina is probably shot.

I am so happy to be able to have the daily workouts a job brings – sure a lot of that is warm up and mind-numbing tedium, but even so it will be the difference between a steady daily workout and the occasional pickup football or basketball game.  Yes, it is less fun, and maybe less of a workout on that one particular day, but there is no question which method actually gets you (and keeps you) in better physical condition.

And finally, the number one reason why I am grateful to be starting my new job:

1.  So I can find another job.  Look, I am going to put my “all” into this job.  And there may be a long-term potential for this opportunity, a real growth path back towards a fulfilling career.  But this job also brings a long commute, a low salary, and a completely new working environment for me.  For the first time in many years, I am taking a job knowing that it really only makes sense to stay for a couple of years before moving on.

Even with the propensity for hiring managers to lean towards the employed over the unemployed aside, looking for work when you are already employed is in many ways easier, and is understandably more successful.  Having daily connections with people only creates opportunities, and despite the inadvisability of looking for work during office hours, the 24-7 world of electronic communications makes that unnecessary.

More importantly, the lack of pressure (or relative lack) removes a layer of desperation which eats at every candidate’s action, constantly lowering the job hunter’s self-esteem and ability to land that new job.  Having a position, even if it is a step or two backwards in one’s career, allows the job hunter to be more targeted, more selective in the job opportunities they do choose to pursue, providing not only better odds of success, but side-stepping the downward self-esteem spiral even further by eliminating that many more negative results.

So while I do plan to stay at this job for as long as I ought, I also know that I will keep pursuing opportunity in the background.

By staying 11 years at a job (following a three-year period of temp work at that same company), the easy growth, the contacts, the opportunities all get taken for granted.  There were several opportunities I turned down over the years, and surely there were many others which I simply let pass by without even trying, or noticing.  I falsely assumed that all of my work, all of my management contacts, all of the history I had with the company left me in a secure position for the future.

I was wrong – thanks to the fact that management moves on, the company moves you around, and politics throw you in untenable situations, anyone can suddenly find themselves faced with the fact that their position is not nearly as secure as they may have thought.

I had a friend at Thomson, way back when, who said she just picked up and changed jobs every two or three years.  She is a designer, so keeping one’s creativity flowing is a key aspect of that.  Staying at the same place just sucks the creativity, the drive out of you.

I would love to know that I was staying at this new job for the next twenty or thirty years, the rest of my natural working life.  Sure, I would hope to be promoted, perhaps change departments and even responsibilities.  But it would still be the same job, just as a house renovated dozens of times is still the same house in spirit.

But the reality is that the whole working environment, at least in the corporate world, is geared towards “new”.  Promotions from within seem more and more rare, especially at the management level, with companies looking to replace from without.  Maybe they think that new is truly better, or that they are “shaking things up”, but in the end they’re often all just shifting executives around an industry, much like a softball pickup game will find last week’s teammates enemies this week.

So, there you have it.  As I count down the days, and then the hours, until my life again gets turned upside down, I will keep reminding myself why I am grateful to be starting this new job.  I’ve listed the top 10 above, but I know as time goes on I will be able to add many, many more.

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