Thursday, May 30, 2019

Taking Time to Understand Yourself

It has been a challenging year at the office.  Dealing with budget cuts, securing a new project that required half a year's work, in five months on top of the half a year's work that was already scheduled.  Working with colleagues who are still learning their jobs, one who is unwell, colleagues dealing significant losses in their lives, unreasonable administrative requests, silly rules that are imposed on everyone, technology and web changes that are FUBAR.  

I have had some difficult moments, moments that make me set there and say to myself, "why do I do this?"  

There is a practical answer - I am well paid, and frankly I need the health insurance until Medicare kicks in a few short years down the road.  

But it takes more than being practical to keep me committed to a job.  My first real job, was with a small home building company that had a mission of building quality affordable homes, a mission I believed in. In the last couple of years I was there the company changed ownership and shifted to building homes that stroked the egos of management, even if few people could afford them.  When I resigned my boss asked why, and the honest answer that tumbled out of my mind was "I lost the faith, I don't believe in who we are and what we do anymore."  I had stayed on that job longer than I should have.

Recently I was dealing with a silly (stupid) administrative demand at the office.  I lost sleep over it, went into the office and found a way to work with it. The reaction of my colleague was that we shouldn't capitulate, we should fight the stupidity.  

In private, in my office I had a moment of crisis and out of my brain tumbled the following:

I don't get paid to fight the silliness of management,  I get paid to do work to improve understanding, policy and practice that improve the lives of older adults.  I get paid to figure out how to comply with silly administrative demands, not to fight them.  If my job was to help create a more sensible and efficient organization they would pay me 10-times as much. I do this work, because I want to improve the lives of older adults.  That is my mission.  If my mission was to improve the efficiency of the organization, I would be doing a different job.  My father never quite understood, why I did what I did after law school, and didn't pursue the highest paying jobs.  He was happy, that I was happy, but he never fully understood the hold that believing in a mission can have on a me.  I need to be true to my own self, I need to focus on the mission.  The administrative stuff comes with the territory, but tell me what I need to do to comply and I will.  I am working on two cutting edge issues that I think will shape my older-old age.  We will make a difference, hopefully a positive difference, but to do that we have to focus on the mission and not on trying to fight the administrative silliness.  

Are you mission drive, or only there for the paycheck? 


  1. I believe my company makes a useful product, and I like 5 of my 6 co-workers.

    the new owner is committed to us and he respects our knowledge; most of us have been there over 10 years. the boss gave us all raises this year! he always says he can't be in business without us. and he ALWAYS pitches in and helps; he's not the type to sit in his office on his ass playing dictator.

    I am well paid for the responsibility I have in my job; other people in my position make 1/2 of my salary. the job is close to home too. at this point, I am going to stay there til I drop dead.

  2. Sadly, I was mostly only there for the paycheck. When I worked for places I believed in I couldn’t afford to live the way I wanted. When I worked for places I didn’t much believe in, I didn’t stay long. But at least I didn’t work for places that were entirely against my value system, I suppose.

  3. I was always mission driven too.