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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Ups and Downs and Work

Life is so interestingly unpredictable.

The last few weeks, actually, the last few months, I’ve been having an incredibly stressful time at work. My “not so new but still feels like new” job has been so demanding, challenging and chaotic. I’ve been single-handedly asked to develop, implement and manage a new department for over 400 employees. I signed up for the job thinking it would be hard work but exciting nonetheless. Little did I know we would be going thru a company reorganization, there would be so many different expectations and needs to be met, I would be entering an entirely different culture, plus working in an industry I knew nothing about. Talk about jumping into a 10-feet deep pool and then having to learn how to swim!

The last few months have been a true test to my character. There have been many times when I would rant and gripe about the pressures of work to my family and friends. I would work 10-12 hours days and weekends too, while asking myself “what have I gotten myself into?” I lost sleep over this and I got sick so many times I became immune to over the counter cold medication and doses of Emergen-C and Airborne became my drink of choice. It even went as far as having my parents and husband asking me to start looking for another job because no matter what the benefits were, it was not worth the unbelievable amount of stress.

I seriously thought about leaving. But I’d like to think I am made of stronger stuff. I was not yet ready to throw in the towel. I wanted to really try my best and give it my all. In the end, if things did not work out at least I could say I did my best. I was no quitter – well, that’s one way to look at it. Another way is the fact that I have been born with an incredible amount of stubborn pride.

Over the months, things at work got a little better. And more importantly, I was learning to deal with the stress and making promises to myself that I had to adapt a better work-life balance. I consciously limited my hours at work and kept my weekends free. During this time, my new department started getting some projects rolling and SLOWLY I was getting things done. But just before I could build any momentum, one of my projects went bad – really B-A-D. The worst part is it was because of something I totally had no control over. I couldn’t avoid it even if I tried. But of course, that is no consolation for someone like me who likes to beat myself up over every little thing.

It is one thing to have too many huge projects, looming deadlines, tough customers, and set-backs along the way. But the worst part is feeling unappreciated and alone. I received very little feedback – unless you counted criticism for how projects could be done better. Occasionally I would hear a positive comment or two but never from the people who I really needed to hear it from. It was physically and emotionally draining.

Yesterday, I was busy with a million and one things when my manager called me to his office. I was expecting him to ask about normal work stuff or to “lecture” me on something or the other. Instead, he said something I was very shocked to hear. He gave me a raise for a job well done. He and the top brass of our company had deliberated about it and I got a substantial and unexpected merit increase. The increase is even more surprising because we were getting a lot of slack lately for supposedly not meeting expectations. Pardon me for saying it one more time, but I was SHOCKED.

It’s not so much the money that makes me happy (of course, it plays a part in all this) but it’s really finally getting some sort of validation for all the work I’ve put in and all the drama I’ve gone through. Getting a higher salary and a bonus to match is a good sign of being appreciated - even if I know I have not been perfect either. I am sure it will not make things 100% easier when I go back into the jungle on Monday. But at least I know that somehow I am doing a good job even if I don’t hear it in so many words.

As with all things that lie in-store for me, I don’t know where this job will take me or if this is really where I am meant to be. But for now, I am content, re-energized and certainly ready to give it another go.


jol said...

Your hard work, unwavering commitment and frequent prayers have been answered. I am glad of this outcome as I have once said that you are the best person for this position. Still the best reward for doing a good job is actually enjoying it. That will be forthcoming! Congratulations!

jml said...

As the saying goes - "what doesn't kill you will strengthen you". The situation in your new job describes this perfectly and you have clearly emerged a better and stronger person. Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Joanne ! A Job Well Done is deserving of A Raise and a Pat on the Back. Kudos to you. Keep up the good work.

Uncle Jr. and Auntie Lillian

Anonymous said...

fantastic, jo.


Sareet said...


Believe it or not, I found your post very motivating. I've been in a work slump - a bit different that yours I think - it's not that I am working in a stressful environment, just more that it's a job that requires a lot of self-motivation (basically sales) and it's easy to slack off. It's motivating to be reminded that hard work does pay off! :)

Leslie Ty said...

I'm so happy for you Jo!!!! :) very proud too!

i've been feeling down and low about work too lately...i've been on leave for 2 days this week because i just need a breather from work...
(will just email you for the details :) )

Super Congratulations for the increase and a Job well done!!!! How did you celebrate? :)

Junarakasa said...

Thanks everyone! Your kind words and congratulations mean a lot. It was a shock - but the week after, I was assigned a whole lot of new responsibilities - which now sort of explains it :) I guess you can't win 'em all.

And Sareet, you are not alone, even with this, I still have to "motivate" myself to go to work every day too.

To answer Les' question - we are celebrating with a 3-day weekend trip sometime this April. But the rest goes into our Roth IRA. It makes me feel old knowing that my hubby's and my bonus and salary go into a Roth IRA - gone are the days we could just blow it all out on shopping! :)