Yesterday at work, despite my best efforts to check off the 1,001 tiny things on my to do list and to clean out my inbox so I can figure out whether there’s anything that never made it onto the list, I spent much of my time on two Projects That Will Not Die. Just when I think about catching up, just when I dream of breathing space, up pops one or the other of these. Yesterday, both.
These were supposed to be finished months ago. In fact, they’ve been finished several times, so when I see one again, it’s like looking at a zombie. Now, I didn’t sign up to work with zombies. Nobody said there’d be zombies. And I can’t even take a shotgun to these zombies. No, I have to treat them just like any regular project.
So it’s time for a deep breath and to remind myself why I’m in this job in the first place.
- Variety. I can’t see it when I’m staring at a zombie, but very few people have jobs with as much variety as mine. I have my own research project, my own administrative project. I crunch numbers, write client materials, edit client materials. I’m an IT backup, on a data security team, and a “guru” for most of the applications we use locally. That can be a lot of interruptions, but it doesn’t get stale.
- Impact. I make a difference at work. My administration work is a chance to smooth the path for people going through tough times. My research project puts me in communication with decision-makers in the company and was recently disseminated outside as well. I can make someone’s day a little easier by helping make their computers do what they’ve been trying to do. What I do matters.
- Challenge. Most of the projects I get come as goals. “The client wants to do this.” or “The client wants to know this.” Sure, we repeat some work, and I’m not on my own to figure out how to get it done, but I get to do it because the client couldn’t do it themselves.
- People. Since this is the kind of work we do, and since we do it successfully, you know I have to work with a pretty sharp bunch. What you don’t know is that they’re also hired for their people skills. Friendly, funny, smart, minimal gossip, no backstabbing–what more could I ask for?
- Authority. I don’t have a boss. I don’t have anyone reporting to me. I have things that have to get done, people who work with me on them, and a coach who is also a coworker. I have effectively sidestepped the chain of power, and the arrangement couldn’t suit me better if it had been made for me.
- Compensation. This isn’t why I do anything, since I’m mostly internally motivated. However, it’s hard to feel under-appreciated when someone apologizes to you over a pay increase that is above most companies’ top of the merit range.
There are more reasons to stay and love my job, but those are the highlights. Besides, it’s time to go see whether I can finally lay those zombies to rest.