Thursday, April 26, 2012

My Job

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that I've been pretty stressed out for the past year.  Here's the Reader's Digest Condensed version:

I've worked in my current company, in this same department, for 12 years.  I started as an administrative assistant, have promoted up twice, and am now a Procurement Analyst- the next step up for me is becoming my boss (manager of my department) or working in an entirely different area.  1 year ago, my job changed significantly.  Responsibilities were added that increased my workload significantly.  I stopped taking lunch breaks, came in early when I could, stayed late, and was taking work home most nights and weekends.  I was ramping up my training to run my first ever half marathon and this work change derailed me (I completed the event but not as well as if I had been able to stay on my training schedule).  In addition to the increased workload, well, let's just say that there are always challenging personalities in any workplace and sometimes we have to work closely with those people.  I like the people I work with and I work hard but there is plenty that can easily become added stress in terms of styles and personalities when the workload is bearing down.

In the past month or so, there have been things going on in my workplace that have left me... feeling unsure.  Unsure about why I'm here, how long I can keep this going, and what the future holds for me.  Over the past 9 months, I've tried to find my way.  I've sought advice from friends, I've prayed a lot, I've found ways to set limits.  Improvements have been made but my heart was still heavy with the stress I was constantly carrying.  My Job was my number one stress day in and day out.  I would do great for a couple of days and then the same-old, same-old would bring me back to Stressville.  It was impacting my relationship with my kids, my husband, my friends.  I didn't feel like myself but I couldn't figure out how to get back to the Liz I had been.

As I was preparing for my weekend Walk to Emmaus, I just knew that I would be spending time focusing on what I need to do next to improve things.  I am not happy with how things are but I am terrified of what the next steps might be.  I knew that this focused time with God was going to bring me a lot of answers, advice, callings, whatever.  I was eager to seek that guidance.

God knows my heart and my prayers even before I do.  I've been praying about my job for a long time and have been trying my best to let go of the small things, to not bring it home with me, to do my best work and let it go.  But I apparently needed a big demonstration to really get the point.

I didn't think or pray or worry about work, my job, my boss, or my career the entire time I was there.  Even when someone asked me what I do for a living... the stress and anxiety about my work situation wasn't present.  I just answered and moved on.

I didn't even realize that I hadn't focused on my Number One Life Stress until the weekend was done and a friend, knowing of my stress, asked me if I'd gotten what I came for.  That's when it hit me.

I sure did!

In my head, my job has never been my number one priority.  God, husband, kids, self, intentional family, and so on are the items floating back and forth, up and down in that top 5 bracket.  But I was living my life as if my job was a top priority as well as keeping my heartfelt priorities at the top, too.  No wonder I was so stressed and worn out and frustrated and cranky!

I've let this work stress seep into so many aspects of my being that I carried all of this negativity with me no matter where I went and what I did.  And while some of my prayers to get me through a trying day were necessary, I was spending so much time praying about my job that I was still giving it more focus than it deserves.

My job is not my life. 

I have important interactions with a wide variety of people throughout my work day.  Living my life as a Follower of Christ is massively important to those interactions.  I have important responsibilities and expectations in my job.  Following God's law and His purpose for my life help me to be an employee with a solid work ethic.

But that's it.

I need to show up each day, do my best, and then go home.  It is not God's purpose for my life to be the best manager of international safety products my company has ever seen.  It is not God's purpose for my life to have the highest cost savings each month.  It is not God's purpose for my life to carry the weight of frustration because of a difficult personality that I must work with regularly.

The weight off of my shoulders when I realized all of that was almost indescribable.  I was so used to carrying this giant ball of stress everywhere I went that I didn't even immediately realize it was gone until it was pointed out to me!  I thought of the wonderful week I took off of work for Spring Break.  My kids were at Grandma's, I had time alone, I was totally de-stressed but when Monday came... I dreaded returning to the office and the same old politics and the same old micromanaging and the same old crazy demands.  I had to force myself to walk into the building from the parking lot, praying in my car for strength to face the day.  After my Emmaus weekend?  I was eager to get back to work.  I was excited to be connected to the people around me.  I was happy to do my work to the best of my ability and then go home at the end of the day, satisfied that I had done the best I could.

I'm only 4 days post-Emmaus.  Maybe my attitude is going to change in the next few weeks, days, months.  There are certainly stressful times ahead.  Nothing in my workplace has changed- but I have.  I've faced a few of the normal challenges this week without any glitches to my new understanding.  I'm keeping my priorities in the correct order- taking time for God throughout the day, focusing on my kids and their growth, my husband and our relationship, and my intentional family (friends, church).

Matthew 11:28

The Message (MSG)
 28-30"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."



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CH_BeBestMe said...

I needed this right now, Liz! Thank you for your perspective. I fight that same battle. I've been with my company for 14 yrs and have only had kids for 4.5 yrs. A lot of my (self-imposed) "identity" has been tied to my job....what I do for a living has been tied to who I am. And that's simply not true anymore. What I do career-wise is not who I am. And it sure isn't in the top priority spot in my life anymore, although I struggle with that constantly. It was a top priority for 11 yrs, so no wonder I've struggled with changing it. :-)

Leah Beyer said...

I have been struggling the same way. So, in March I told my boss I had to slow down and stop letting the job dictate my family. I am taking a step backwards and giving up leadership, but have more flexibility for my family. Praying for you to continue to put #1 first!

Katherine said...

Right now, I live in such a way that my job often becomes my top priority. There is no other way around it. And when this happens, I start resenting my job for interfering with what are my actual top priorities (family, etc.) I look forward to a time when I will be able to say enough is enough and stop letting this job be my life.

Garret said...

Sorry to hear about all this stress Liz!

C. Beth said...

This is such a great perspective, Liz!