Since the start of the new year, my life at home and at work has been nothing short of a whirlwind. It began with a host of issues to be resolved, massive company meetings in my company’s local office, a new direct report to train and a company party that I’d planned that had to be executed. Once that was done, I felt a sigh of relief and visited my company’s corporate office to participate in a recruiting event and attack 2020 projects with improved relationships and clarity. While I was there, things were going great… or so I thought.
In the two weeks after that visit, my work life changed dramatically. My leader abruptly exited the company, I was given a good-sized chunk of her work, and thrown head-first into a top-secret project. During this time several other executives also left the business, leaving a wake of stress and doubt in those around me. This season has left me bogged down in work, and has taken me away from my family life, rejuvenation time and caring for my home. My husband has stepped in like a champ, and I thank God daily that I have him in my life to keep the wheels moving on our familial bus as my attention is taken to other places. What’s also been hard is that I’ve missed many of my daughter’s Girl Scout meetings, put off my own doctor’s appointments, and slept less than needed in an effort to prove that I can do it to my new leaders, who truly don’t know much about me or my work. While I’m strong enough to pull through this season, I want to use it to make a difference and improve my visibility and work. Though I want to be optimistic about my work shaping the future of our team and department, the flip side is self-doubt, fear and worry.
What if it’s not seen or valued like I hope? What if all of this is for nothing, and my hard work and time away from my family is met with no improvements in my role or relationships in the business? Maintaining focus with a sense of optimism even when you’re tired, sad, exhausted, and scared is exactly the saga of what makes the seasons of work, life and relationships so unsettling.
During these seasons, things we’ve grown to love or value seem to be coming apart at the seams, and there’s no duct tape (or love or hard work) strong enough to stop it. Through it all, my focus being straight ahead and on the possibilities of what’s to come has allowed this season to become a vehicle for me, not only to propel me toward the future state but also charge my work-life batteries. I view it as a chance to be involved and shape my work, hopefully in a way that impresses a few people along the way. Griping, moping or being complacent won’t get me to Phase II of this situation. I acknowledge the feelings of loss, sadness and uncertainty, but don’t allow myself to dwell on them. As is often said in corporate workplaces, you’re either part of the problem or the solution. I always want to be on the side of the solution, and my focus on the end-game is what’s getting me there.
Since this season began, I’ve sought inspiration from two of my favorite writers and social media work-life gurus, Brene Brown and Laurie Ruettiman, as well as my grandfather, an intelligent, strong, and highly-successful man who managed to have a wonderful family and life outside of his demanding career. I think about how I’d want him to see me now, and be proud that he raised a granddaughter who doesn’t buckle when things become difficult. Instead, I want them to see that woman who rolls up her sleeves and gets heads-down into the work alongside her team in the spirit of making the today and next day as amazing as possible, even if we’re not yet certain what’s life’s going to throw at us. I strive to shape my future rather than be a victim of it.
Inevitably, this season will end like the others before it, and I will enter a period of recovery afterward that allows me to reflect differently on this topic than while I’m in the thick of it. And at another point later, the cycle of change will begin again. The seasons never stop, but they evolve each time with the death of something great and rebirth of the new normal.
Right now, I’m still in the thick of the chaos and remaining focused on the positives that lie ahead. It’s very likely that I’ll have a new leader starting in my company’s headquarters in the next couple of months, and hopefully two new colleagues to assist in making our team its best iteration yet. I commit to optimism and looking ahead rather than back at what was, and moving forward has never felt so overwhelming but so also so good.