La La Land was released for rental the same week that I quit the job that had been driving me into the ground for months. We saw it in the theaters and loved it, but I had forgotten just how applicable it was to my current state of events and life choices made, recently.
To say that my job has been difficult is like saying Mozart is instrumental. Yeah, it fits the same use of the word, but the same word...instrumental... can be used to describe any putz with a banjo or harmonica. Similarly, yes...my job was hard, but that is what work is supposed to be like, and that wasn't really the problem. The problem was never the tasks, it was who it was for and with. It was not the past or the present that was the problem, but it was the future....or lack thereof.
I mentioned in a recent blog how relationships and workplaces share the same process and outcomes. So, consider what my past marriage was like. I spent years sacrificing and doing and fixing problems that was created by my ex, only to ...instead of creating an attitude of concern and a sacrificial response and concern back...create an attitude of thankful expectation. Thankful, because she knew that she had someone to pull her a** out of the fire, whenever she overspent, worked too long, or otherwise acted without thinking...but she knew that she had someone that would CONTINUE to do so...or so she came to expect. So, rather than respond in kind, she gratefully expanded my....opportunity to fix things for her and be there for her. The idea that she would need to be there for me was beyond not only her observation but capacity to understand. So, when I left, she treated it as an attack on her, rather than what it really was...self respect.
So, now, we move to a workplace that hired me for my ability to adapt quickly, solve problems, and fill in to whatever emergency presented itself. And, that is how it went. Very quickly, I was not only tasked to fill in for a dozen different types of plants, when needed but was designated as the new system tester, back invoice payer, and much more. And, each time I did well (as I always do), they knew that they had someone that could fix what they needed fixed and be there for them, wherever and for whatever they needed, and that began the downward spiral to finally being put in the most complex roles without backup, training, or assistance, while shouldering all the responsibility and blame, so that they could do other ..funner.. things, without a second of concern about how it was impacting myself or my family. As I saw a cliff coming in the work plan and knowing what it would mean for my family and my future to be associated with it, I gave my notice and ...right up to the last day...continued to resolve this massive analytical burden that no one else was shouldering. And, in the end, I was criticized for leaving...even though I gave them a month's warning to prepare...because I was no longer going to be there for them, even though they had YET to be there for me.
Sound familiar? So, this week, as I have been looking for work, I have done some real soul searching on what it means to have a career and/or happiness. I say and/or happiness, because they are not often the same. I read a book some years ago called Choosing to Cheat ...while I was in seminary of all places. The gist of the book was this. No one has the time or ability to be all things with all of their strength and soul. We are finite beings with limited resources. For every increase at work, there must be a decrease at home. For every increase at home, there must be a decrease at work, and so on. However, all are important. Therefore, the key to life is being ok to CHEAT yourself in one or all of those areas. But, you need to start by asking, what is important to you.
Without giving too much of La La Land away, that is a message of the movie. You can have success in your career, or you can have a happy home, but you cannot fully have both to the max. So, you have to determine what is important to you and adjust accordingly.
Therefore, I don't consider it as failure to be leaving a higher paying job for what will probably be a lower paying one, if it provides me the opportunity to spend time with my loving wife and family that care much more for me than that job ever did. In fact, it would be a failure to miss that for a paycheck, and as the years went on, it would become more apparent.
So, take a few moments and consider how you spend your life. Are you investing the majority of your time and energy in what will lead you to what makes you happy? Or, will you "succeed" one day at reinforcing your misery. Your life is in YOUR hand, and you cannot blame anyone else for your choices or lack thereof.
So, choose wisely.