My last year of employment with the company I’d worked for for the past 10 years, was probably my most successful. I had learned how to find my niche in a market where big banks ruled, I’d learned how to market myself as the go-to person for community banking and the money the office had on deposit was more than it had ever had since its inception. All of this despite the fact that I had been going through the most tumultuous times with upper management who upon taking over, had decided that I had to go and that I didn’t know how to effectively run my office even though none of them had ever worked outside of a traditional banking environment and had no clue what was involved in running a bank located inside of a supermarket.
Add to their ignorance of how things operated, they quickly realized that my employees were some of the best trained and began to use me like a Major League Baseball farm team and move my fully trained employees to their favorite offices giving me what they thought were problem employees but were just employees that didn’t fit their mold or were people they were unable to “control”. I called them on it more than once even going as far as to use the “Farm Team” analogy just so they knew that I knew what was going on. It wasn’t until we went head to head on a lie…and they lost, that management backed off.
In the time that I was granted a reprieve, I was able to focus on my office and do exactly what was needed to make myself and the office successful. I become a more community minded member of the business community but my community involvement was strategic and specific to the needs of the office. Knowing that I did not have the flexibility to promote my office the way a traditional Office Manager did, I took to becoming very involved with the local Chamber of Commerce. I positioned myself to become their go to person to promote/sponsor events in conjunction with my office and strategically sponsored community events, school events and the local college. Within three years the office went from having, as low as, $6 million on deposit to having $20 million on deposit- a feat never before accomplished by any Office Manager at that particular office. Oh and did I mention that most of this was accomplished while working with a staff of two people? Half of what the office should have had working in it to run efficiently.
All of this success, while marginally recognized, meant nothing to upper management. After months of being undermined and not receiving the support that was not only needed but considered mandatory, by said management, finally caught up to the office and as the head of that office me-the hammer dropped and when questions about who was ultimately responsible for the issues the office had (which were mostly due to having insufficient staff) the answer started to become clear that there were decisions made above my pay grade that contributed to the office’s failures. It became obvious, very quickly, that in order to save face, someone had to go and that someone became me.
Even though I was fired and more importantly, ready to go, I am glad that I can look back on my work with pride. While I was unable to see my vision through to completion, I am able to say that despite the setbacks and the underhandedness, my office was more successful than it had ever been and I was able to walk away with with the knowledge and the know-how that can be applied to any future endeavor and it was all a result of my hard work and dedication–a feat that no one can ever take away.
I always hated completing the self-assessment for my employer. Not because I didn’t want my work to be reviewed but because I hated having to remember everything I’d done throughout the review cycle that proved why I felt I was worthy of receiving an extra $2.25 in my paycheck! I knew it was important but it was the act of validating myself that bothered me. What is funny about me not wanting to self-assess my work, is that in every other aspect of my life, I am all about self-assessing myself and those around me. I’m convinced that I’d have made a great Psychologist!
I didn’t start self-assessing until after my divorce and the break-up of my family. Both were very traumatic events that led me to do a lot of soul searching. What was my role, if any, and could it have played out differently? How would I handle things differently next time, if there was a next time or how can I make sure that I don’t find myself in this situation ever again? These are just some of the thoughts I struggled with answering.
Self-assessing helped. I learned a lot about my likes and dislikes and I learned what I would and would not accept in both my personal and professional relationships. If I am wrong or act “out of pocket” with my significant other, by self-assessing (unfortunately and usually after the fact), I have been able to decipher what I could and should have done differently so that I can avoid mishandling the issue in the future and find a more appropriate, calm manner (I’m a work in progress on that!) to communicate.
I had an employee who could have benefited from a little “self-assessment”. She went around ruining every positive relationship she had because she couldn’t function unless she was surrounded by dysfunction. I tried everything I could think of to make her realize her potential and teach her that there was another way to interact without creating drama but I never got through and in the end, she tried to take me down as well! She was eventually moved to another office where she promptly began the “same old song and dance” until she was managed out of the company. How sad that because she couldn’t get ahold of and acknowledge her issues, all aspects of her life were effected.
Through my personal therapy sessions it has become more clear to me where I want all of my personal relationships to be and I understand the amount of work it will take to get them there. Most importantly, I am taking the time to focus on making me a better me and though I have and will falter at times, I’ve never stopped working on the end result.
…So what is your 5 year plan? I hate that question! It is a trick question if I’ve ever heard one and the answer given is usually bogus. Now let’s pause for a minute because I know that there are people who do truly plan out there lives and for the most part, their plans have come to fruition…I have always envied those people. I’ve dabbled in planning parts of my life; I have planned my vacations and I’ve planned where I would send my kids to school but I have never been one to plan where I would be professionally, 5 years in advance.
Maybe it is because my momma always said, “If you wanna make God laugh…tell him your plans.” I’ve found that anytime I planned what was going to happen with my life, God’s plan superseded mine and took me in an entirely different direction.
Here are a some of my plans gone awry; I planned to stay married…that didn’t happen, I planned to send my daughter to our church’s private school from K-12 and learned that if I didn’t mainstream her she would graduate without having learned anything except the ability to pray and most recently, I planned to have a long successful career with my last employer…I ended up fired, so for the last year and a half, I stopped planning and decided it was finally time to give in and just go with the flow. I felt good about my decision but as soon as I started looking for a job, I began to hear that dreaded question again and again I was unprepared to give an “appropriate” answer, so I started telling the truth.
The truth, as we all know, scares people, so when I gave my answer the look I started to get when I told them, “I’ve never planned out my career path” made me nervous. I started to question myself. “Am I wrong for not having a set plan to say I’m going to be doing XYZ in 5 years? Why is it a problem that I understand that the best laid plans sometimes go awry so instead of a having a plan, I choose to have a goal in mind and what does it mean that even now, I am unable to formulate a solid plan for where I see myself in 5 years?”
The thought of coming up with a plan that will dictate my decision for the next few years seems very final and if there is anything that I have learned about myself it’s that having to maintain that kind of control makes me nervous and takes away from the way I want to live my life. So maybe my real issue is the control that having a plan in place will impose on me. With all of the twists and turns that life is going to bring my way, worrying about what is going to happen in 5 years seems pointless.
Plans are made to be changed and in my opinion, it would be fruitless for me to even attempt to try and figure out all of the what ifs that will change the direction of the plan so the next time I am asked, “What is your 5 year plan?”, my answer will be, “to handle what I am given and to adjust accordingly.”
We’ve all had that moment when we realize that our life has plateaued. That moment when you start to notice that no matter what you do, nothing happens. Whether it is career, financial, love or a physical transformation, your life just seems to be at a complete standstill…I am having that moment. My standstill is career related which has lead to being financially stifled and feeling extremely discouraged.
After being unceremoniously fired from a company where I had worked for 10 years, I decided to take some time to figure out what I wanted to do next. The summer of 2011 was the best I’d had since I was a kid. The family was able to take a well deserved trip to Puerto Rico and we were able to really spend quality time with each other. As time wore on, I seriously began to look for a job but I noticed that despite my qualifications, nothing I tried was working and I felt more and more like an undesirable candidate…for EVERYTHING!
I had always told myself that I wouldn’t go back into banking, which was the field I’d been working in for 13 years, but as I applied for positions outside of banking that made as much as $20,000.00 less than what I’d been making, I was getting nowhere. This went on for sometime. I finally buckled down and tried to get back into the field of banking, (I guess that is why they say never say never!) but it didn’t matter that I had given in and was trying to go back to something I said I’d never go back to…they didn’t want me! O.k…now what?
I should tell you that the entire time that I was trying to figure out what my new career should be, I was constantly hearing in my head that I needed to write. I had been saying for over 5 years that that is what I wanted to do but I always managed to have too much going on to concentrate on writing…at least that is what I told myself. Then, of course, I lost my job and had all the time in the world and again I told myself, “I didn’t have enough money to create my website the way I wanted.” So I kept looking for jobs that had nothing to do with the career where I claimed I wanted to work.
Finally, I found a job working in the insurance field. I had to jump through several hoops to show this employer that I was “worthy” of being “conditionally hired” by them and I did everything they wanted me to do. At first I was excited because I was FINALLY going to be working but as I started taking classes to learn how to sell their brand, the realization set in that I wouldn’t be able to give my all to yet another company. I had spent the last 10 years giving everything to a company that had no problem dropping me by the wayside and I no longer had the wherewithal to play the corporate slave game. “Now really…what the hell was I going to do?” This is the question I began to ask myself.
I made my daughter start writing a blog this summer so that she could improve her writing skills. I had told myself that that wouldn’t work for what I wanted to do (again with the procrastination) and I discouraged myself from what I said I wanted to be doing. My best friend, who was one of a few people who knew that I wanted to write, told me how to create my site the way I wanted for free…THANK GOD! No longer able to procrastinate, I set up my site and immediately started writing and something happened…the words just flowed…I was finally doing what I said I’d wanted to do!
It has taken me 5 years to overcome my issues with procrastination and self-doubt. The Lord knew I had to lose my job and be forced into the possibility of being unhappy working for another 10 years in order to make me realize my real calling. I am working to get past feeling stifled in my career and I now know that by following through with the plan I set up in my head 5 years ago, the financial rut I am in will also pass. It feels good to know that I am at a point in my life where I realize I can no longer just go with the flow…I sure wish I’d gotten to that point sooner but at least I finally did!