My Thoughts on The Great Resignation

The pandemic and working from home has led to quite a revolution in the workforce.  People are realizing that life as we had been living it before the pandemic is not where it’s at.  Priorities have changed and this has led to people being fed up. People are feeling empowered to make changes.  People are realizing their worth, realizing what they want, and realizing that employment as we’ve known it is for the birds. And though I didn’t get it at first, I NOW GET IT!

Personally, I have had some realizations about work and life during this pandemic, and I cannot see going back to life as I knew it before this all happened. I feel like my life’s priorities do not line up with working the way I did before the pandemic.  And I feel like I just cannot see going back to the way things were.

People are realizing their worth, realizing what they want, and realizing that employment as we’ve known it is for the birds. And though I didn’t get it at first, I NOW GET IT!

I’m sure that along with the rest of the world, after two years of remote working, I now realize that going to an office every single day is for the birds. Don’t get me wrong, I know for some occupations, it’s required. I wouldn’t expect my dentist to virtually clean my teeth, no more than I’d expect my mechanic to virtually change my oil. I know for a lot of people, there was no such thing as working from home.

But for the millions of office workers and paper pushers like myself, working from home is what we did during the pandemic. Once upon a time, working 100% remotely once seemed like an impossibility–like…we really felt like there’s no way in earth we could fully operate without stepping foot into an office space.

What about our files and our print-outs and faxes and mail???

But obviously, we did it. And we did it darn well. And while doing it, we discovered a lot of things about what’s important in life and what’s not. Spending more time at home helping kids with school work easily outweighs devoting that same time to being in a car commuting. We’ve discovered hobbies and recipes, we’ve enhanced relationships and we’ve explored and vacationed more than normal–things that were at the very least made more difficult when we had a requirement to be physically present in an office.

I realize that I have it good when it comes to work.  I get paid very well, I have a lot of flexibility, before the pandemic, I did work three days from home, and when it comes to work-related stress, that really is quite low.  So, I have no plans to resign.

HOWEVER…there are some things I also have no interest in doing again. Ever. And I hope I can align my life up to these preferences in the near future.

So now that the return-to-work announcement seems imminent, I’m realizing that there are some things I haven’t missed and that I have no interest in returning to.

  • Spending 20 hours of my work week in a car fussing about my commute and crazy @ss drivers
  • Fussing over work outfits
  • Carrying around flat shoe and a work shoe (and a gym shoe if I plan to work out during lunch)
  • Mentally allocating hours and hours preparing for work and the associated logistics of getting to the office
  • Living my life around when traffic starts and ends
  • Spending money on just getting to, and being in, the office. (Gas, car wear and tear, meals out, coffee on the go, etc.)
  • Missing out on things because I can’t get there in time if I’m coming from work
  • Feeling like a race starts the moment I hit the door in the evenings (because things I’ve done during the workday during the pandemic, I’m unable to do if I’m in the office…such as running an errand that takes 10 minutes from your home but that’s not possible to do in a reasonable timeframe from the office, marinating chicken, doing laundry, prepping meals, going to a fitness class by my home that I can’t make it to in time from the office)
  • Attending meetings in person that could be an email, a phone call, Teams/Skype message, or a virtual meeting
  • Constantly being in a state of meal planning because I have to take lunch and breakfast to the office and then have an easy-to-make meal at home for dinner because I have to go to bed in two hours.
  • Going to bed two hours after I get home
  • Living off of convenient meals because there’s no time to cook and prep
  • Waking up before 8am. I literally cannot believe that I woke up at 6am and often didn’t start working until 9.  THREE HOURS wasted every single day.
  • Dealing with work drama.  So much of that disappears when you don’t have to deal with in-person foolishness.  I don’t see you, you don’t see me, and at the end of the day, I sign off and live my life. 
  • Not focusing on my side hustle and other interests because all of my free time and mental space is devoted to work things.
  • Spending money on clothing just to go to the office
  • Shoveling snow or dealing with inclement weather just to get to or from the office.
  • Awkward pot lucks
  • Paying for dry cleaning
  • The ability to zone out in the middle of the day which is not possible in the office because you always have to be “on”

This is just my starter list. There are so many more things I have no interest in dealing with once we are required to return to work. What have you not missed since being on full-time remote work? Anything on my list? What are your thoughts on the Great Resignation?

My Labor Day Thoughts

Labor Day Thoughts, black woman at desk
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Another Labor Day weekend has come and gone. I never really give much thought to Labor Day and what it means. I typically just bid farewell to the summer and enjoy the long weekend. But today I decided to at least reflect on the day a little, and what it means.

Labor Day, in summary, is a day that honors the labor force in the U.S. And of course labor means work, and work means jobs. Even though there’s some historical background to the day, overall it’s pretty cut and dry. People work, and this day shows appreciation for that.

But nowdays, we are in this time and space where mindsets are shifting. People are looking beyond the traditional 9 to 5 to seek fulfillment and they are setting up multiple revenue streams. People are using their talents to make money in ways that weren’t even thought of 10 or 20 years ago…and honey, I. LOVE. IT.

The world has more entrepreneurs, creatives, influencers, life coaches, financial coaches, bloggers, app developers, and first-generation business owners than any time before. People are using their genuine interests, their personal experiences, their education, and their God-given talents to start businesses, supplement income, and change their lives in dramatic ways. It’s inspiring. It’s motivating.

It’s also the reason for a lot of pressure.

Everyone’s doing it, and if they aren’t, they feel like they should be. People feel like they, too, should be blogging, influencing, working day, night and weekends for a side hustle…and the truth is, it just isn’t everyone’s idea of happiness. But the internet, the gram, and the blogs…have people feeling like if they aren’t “leveling up”, if they aren’t creating multiple streams of income, if they aren’t constantly on their grind, creating content, developing branding, doing product research…working towards independence and entrepreneurship, they are somehow lacking.

Personally, I have a lot of varied interests, and my day job just doesn’t fulfill all of my needs. For that reason, I have hobbies, and I have things that I’ve turned to as a way to make additional income. My side interests have turned into side businesses, and I do hope that they continue to grow and prosper.

But I do them because I love doing them. I’m not relying on it to put a roof over my head or to put food in my fridge. I do them because, whether I make money or not, I truly actually enjoy the things I do outside of my traditional job. They fill a void that my 9 to 5 doesn’t fill. They serve as an outlet for me. But maybe someday, that will change. Maybe my side hustles will pan out for me one day, and I’ll be able to live completely off the money generated from my businesses. That would be great. But I am also really into my “regular job” and I think that’s ok as well.

Let’s face it–everyone is not meant to, nor desires to be, an entrepreneur. Not everyone wants a side hustle. Not everyone has that hatred for the establishment. Some people truly and genuinely enjoy their 9 to 5.

Not every “regular job” is terrible. Everyone doesn’t view working for an employer as working for “the man”. Some people truly like their colleagues and they like whatever security they have in their 9 to 5. They like having a paycheck that hits their account reliably and predictably, a benefits package that suits their lifestyle, job expectations that are communicated, a mission that they want to be a part of…being able to feed their families, secure a mortgage, and take vacations without stressing about making payroll, covering expenses, and creating social media content. Millions of people live and love this life. And that is ok.

I think it is time we stop shaming people for not desiring the life of an entrepreneur. Or rather, stop shaming people who like their life, whatever it is, just because it’s not the life that YOU want for yourself. This world needs all kinds to make it go-round. And we need to get out of the habit of shaming people for playing the role that they want to play in the world.

I think we need to all agree that everyone makes their own decisions for their own personal reasons, and we need to focus on our own decisions and why we make them. Make the best decision for your life, be it an entrepreneur, a part of the labor force, or a combination of both. And let’s not worry about putting our work expectations on other people.

What are your thoughts on Labor Day? Or do you not even think about it? Lol. No shame here!

10 Take-Aways from Speed Mentoring Event

What it's like being on furlough (1)

I felt anxious and unsure when I was invited to attend a speed-mentoring event at work last week.  Yes, an opportunity to sit down with my agency’s leaders sounds great, but the thought of saying something stupid…or not saying anything at all…made my pressure rise.  Is this going to feel like an interview?  EEEK!

The large conference room was set up with four tables.  At each table was a senior leader at my agency and four mentees.  Each leader had a topic that they’d speak about to their mentee group for 15 minutes, and then we’d then have five minutes for Q&A and discussion.  After time was up, the mentees would rotate to the next leader.  The four topics were:

  • Self-Marketing:  How do I (the employee) make myself known without being annoying?
  • Innovation & Technology:  Where is the agency heading and how do I (the employee) fit in?
  • Political Savvy: How do I negotiate with senior leadership?
  • A Picture of Success: What does it take to move up the ranks, and what strategies are needed to overcome challenges along the way?

I made some notes and prepared some questions in advance, just in case nothing came to mind as the sessions were going on.  I prefer a more organic conversation, so I was a little nervous because I knew my questions sounded canned and prepped.  But that’s better than having nothing and risking brain freeze in the face of leadership.

The event went so much better than I expected.  The conversation flowed effortlessly, the topics were really interesting, and I actually had to force myself not to interrupt other mentees in my group when they asked their questions.  I struggled between furiously taking notes because so much good advice was given, and trying to listen and converse with the group.

So here are my top ten take-aways from the speed mentoring event:

  1. Order business cards ASAP.
  2. Make yourself both visible and vital to leadership.
  3. Say something in every meeting, and have an interest in what you say or ask.
  4. Attend social events, brown bags, or workgroup presentations.
  5. Say thank you if your supervisor approves training, and then follow up after the training to say what you learned from the course.
  6. Push yourself to talk to people you know by sight but have never spoken to.
  7. Understand how your organization operates and how decisions are made.
  8. Take note of who sits where in meetings and who speaks up first.  Also note if your manager or leader looks to someone else for input when questions are asked of him/her.
  9. Identify parts of your job that can lead to an innovative solution.  Tasks that take up a huge amount of time and have a lot of repetition may be able to be automated.
  10. Take time to master emotional intelligence and self awareness.

If you have an opportunity to attend events like this at your organization, I strongly encourage you to attend, even if you are happy with where you are, you don’t see the immediate benefit, or if you are a bag of nerves.  The tips and strategies discussed in this event helped put me in front of leaders I may not otherwise have had exposure to, and also gave me food for thought for my own personal aspirations, both in and out of the workplace.

Have you ever done anything like this?  What did you take away from the experience?

tata for now -m- (2)

What it’s like being on furlough

what it's like being on furlough

Shutdown 2018 is trending everywhere and is on every news outlet.  It’s a pretty big deal and has the potential to impact almost everyone in one way or another.  From visiting national parks to filing your taxes to catching a flight, in some way your life could possibly be touched.  While you may feel one way or another about the circumstances surrounding the current shutdown, which is now on its 24th day with no end in sight, the reality is that there are real-world consequences to this whole ordeal.

Living in the region that surrounds the nation’s capital, the impact of a government shutdown is a little more prominent than regions outside of this political hotbed.  With the current shutdown impacting 800,000 workers total, about half of those workers are located in the DC metro area.  It is the livelihood of this region.  It is hard to find a household that doesn’t contain someone that works for the government, or that doesn’t contain someone who is a contractor for the government.  Nearly every business in this region relies on government employees buying their products or services.  Restaurants rely on patrons that are government employees.  Caregivers provide services to children of government employees.  Even ride-share providers such as Uber and Lyft rely on the comings and goings of government employees in this area for income.  In short, when the government shuts down, this region suffers.  Money is not flowing, inventories are not being purchased, services are not being contracted.  It literally takes food off the table of a majority of households in this region.  And with this particular shutdown overlapping the Christmas holiday, a time when people go above and beyond their normal spending, a major employer shutting down is huge.

I’ve been a humble civil servant for 13 years now.  Prior to federal service, I worked for huge multinational businesses.  But I was always told by family and friends that true job security happens when you work for the government.  Known for its stable work structure and great benefits, those that work for the government tend to retire from the government.  For most, the stability is the biggest selling point for becoming a federal employee.  It was for me.  I was in a place where I wanted to think about my long term future, I wanted to feel like I was doing something useful for my fellow citizens, and I wanted the stability that came with a job with the government.  And in my 13 years as a civil servant, I’ve had two second significant shutdowns (the first being in 2013 and lasted for 17 days), the second happened so quickly that we only missed a day’s work, and this one is my third.  In addition, there have been too many to count shutdown threats.  I never had anything like this in private industry.

So on behalf of those 800,000 workers dealing with this situation, and waiting to know when and if they will return to work, let me explain what it’s like being on furlough.

Mild.  Initially.  The shutdown came as people were preparing for the holidays, doing last minute shopping, ripping and running to various events and parties, and traveling to their holiday destinations.  What better time for your office to close for a couple days?  The assumption was that come the new year, this would all be sorted out in time to jump back into work as scheduled.

Uncertain.  It began to become obvious that this shutdown had the potential to not see a quick resolution.  And then the real-world issues started coming to mind.  When and if I will receive another pay check, how far will those funds last me, do I have savings to last a while, what bills are due, how much money is available to spend on groceries and gas, how long do I have to prepare for?

Confused.  As you start weighing out the few options you have in front of you, you don’t know whether to hold your position and do nothing; file for unemployment knowing the consequences; or potentially be late with paying bills and deal with the dominoes that fall from making that decision.  It became imperative to start mapping out a few possible plans for money in the near future.

Worried.  I don’t want to say I am not feeling the stress of the shutdown, but I will say that I am fortunate to co-habitate with someone that’s not a government employee, and that my only dependent is my aging, ornery cat.  However, we are, at the moment, paying for two households, and our finances are kept separately, so any money that I may need will have to be asked for and paid back (my preference, not his).  While spending habits may have to be adjusted for the home, I am not likely to go hungry or homeless.  But…for those that live in single-income households, that have children, that take care of parents, that are dealing with a less than ideal situation, and that money paid on time every time, is imperative to their day-to-day survival, this situation is dire.  If you miss one check, you may be able to hold off a landlord or creditor for a little while.  You may be able to use gift cards from the holidays or tighten up the food budget to make ends meet for a little while. You can put yourself in a no-spend status for a few weeks and hope it ends quickly.  But that may not work for all situations because a lot of bills just do not work like that, and that’s worrisome.

Heartbroken. For those that are required to report to work with no pay, my heart truly breaks.  Commuting to work takes money, cleaning uniforms takes money, parking your car, catching a train, riding a bus…all takes money.  Paying for childcare while you’re at work takes money.  And for some, the ability to get to a job and work it, while getting paid nothing in return…is not only wrong, impossible, and f*^$’d up, it’s demoralizing and hurtful.  It’s causing people to call out sick, leaving their fellow employees overworked and vulnerable, which in turn puts the public at risk.  Workers ranging from prison guards to TSA workers, calling out sick because it’s too costly or too demoralizing to come to work, thus putting the other safety officers at risk because they are understaffed, or putting the public at risk because something slides through undetected.  Words like “involuntary servitude” are being used and that’s essentially what it amounts to.  It’s just heartbreaking to think about all of the people that are suffering or the people that could potentially be harmed.

Stressed.  As February 1st approaches, issues such as healthcare start coming into play.  With no paychecks, health insurance eventually will stop getting paid, and with no pay coming in, furloughed employees may be unable to pay their own premiums out of pocket.  Sickness and injury happens all day every day, and potential lack of healthcare leaves furloughed workers and their families vulnerable to risks.  In addition, February 1st will mark a month without pay, and the point where credit scores may start being effected, landlords may be unforgiving, and the pantry may start getting more and more bare.  All of that is scary and stressful beyond words.

Infuriated.  You feel like a pawn in a game that you have no control over.  You feel like people do not truly care about you, your family, your friends, or your livelihood.  All they care about are pride issues…winning, losing, saving face, how they are perceived, getting jabs in, media time, etc.  Meanwhile your family, friends, and neighbors are suffering in very real ways.

Hopeless.  The sides that control your situation are dug in.  Neither wants to budge.  Neither wants to listen.  And each day, it seems like they get more set on staying that way.  It feels out of your control, and it quite frankly, feels hopeless.

I do honestly feel like EVENTUALLY this situation will be resolved and things will get back on track.  I never thought I’d be at almost the month mark without knowing how long it will go on.  This has given me some time to do some things around the house (purge anyone??), and do some writing, which I feel like I never have time for.  But I’d love to put some of the emotions mentioned above to bed, and get back to work.

tata for now -m- (2)